Aotea mu­sic teacher hon­oured

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Mar­i­lyn Baigent is the first to shy away from any lime­light – but this time there was no es­cap­ing.

The Aotea Col­lege head of mu­sic has built one of the strong­est bar­ber­shop pro­grammes in the coun­try since 2000.

With bar­ber­shop coach David Brooks, Aotea Col­lege has dom­i­nated in re­cent times, with quar­tets and cho­rus groups win­ning four of the past six na­tional ti­tles and a quar­tet that won the In­ter­na­tional Ris­ing Star con­test in 2011.

On May 22, at the Welling­ton bar­ber­shop re­gional fi­nals in Lower Hutt, Baigent was hon­oured for her ser­vice with the Young Women in Har­mony award. Typ­i­cally, she wanted to de­flect praise to oth­ers but Brooks was hav­ing none of it.

‘‘Of­ten, people like my­self and Char­lotte Mur­ray [Tawa Col­lege], who are con­duc­tors, win these awards,’’ he said.

‘‘But it is so fit­ting that Mar­i­lyn has won it this year be­cause of her amaz­ing con­tri­bu­tion and all the work she does at Aotea.

‘‘It’s the other side of bar­ber­shop and cho­rus – the man­ag­ing, sup­port­ing, tak­ing groups to na­tion­als and over­seas, ad­min­is­tra­tion, talk­ing with par­ents, fundrais­ing – that she does that is so im­por­tant.

‘‘ Mar­i­lyn has cre­ated an ex­tra­or­di­nary fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents and we are lucky to have her.’’

To top off Baigent’s big night, Aotea’s quar­tets (AC Times and MarvelUs) won the boys and girls sec­tions (an­other quar­tet, Take Four, placed third in the girls) and were sec­ond to Tawa Col­lege in the boys and girls cho­rus.

Baigent said the re­cent com­pe­ti­tion with Tawa and Kapiti col­leges was healthy for mu­sic in the re­gion.

‘‘It’s a very pos­i­tive at­mos­phere and get­ting harder ev­ery year, a good thing. Most of all, ev­ery­one’s hav­ing fun.’’

Aotea Col­lege has 110 stu­dents, out of a roll of 950, tak­ing part in girls and boys cho­rus and up to 10 quar­tets a year. It is a cen­tral part of Aotea’s mu­sic cur­ricu­lum.

Baigent and Brooks said bar­ber­shop was a chal­lenge to teach, with the dif­fer­ent singers each year pro­vid­ing dif­fer­ent strengths and weak­nesses, but that the stu­dents’ enthusiasm was in­fec­tious.

Baigent said bar­ber­shop in­stilled dis­ci­pline, com­mit­ment and team­work, raised self­es­teem and taught young people to per­form to large au­di­ences.

‘‘One of my favourite things about it is the way it cre­ates in­ter­ac­tion with com­mu­nity. I love that.’’

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Sec­ond mother: Mar­i­lyn Baigent, cen­tre, with the Aotea Col­lege singers, who say she is like a fam­ily mem­ber. Clock­wise from left, Sina Esera, Daena Sis­sons, Kis­han Thanawala, Stephen O’Con­nell, Evan­der Seiuli, Ju­lian Wright, Anas­ta­sia Leu­luai, Anas­ta­sia Seu­manutafa, Roseta Leasi and Juanita Leynes.

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