Recognition for teaching music
A longstanding member of the music community, Daphne Stevens was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal this year for services to music.
This after more than 70 years of teaching piano and music, and providing support and encouragement to local musicians.
When Daphne Stevens was a girl, Waitoki was a tight knit farming community and rural backwater. Auckland was a long way away and she and her family worked their farm Verona.
Their father Tom had been captivated by the farming philosophies of Rudolf Steiner while looking to manage bloat, and ran the farm using biodynamic methods long before recognised organic farming came along.
Along with organic farming, Daphne and younger sister Ina were also encouraged to play and perform music. Daphne played harmonica and her deft fingers on the keyboard saw her a regular for much of her life playing the organ at the local Waitoki Community Church.
Daphne left school at 13 on the cusp of World War II. After two years study she was ready to pursue a career in garment design, pattern making and sewing as her mother Florrie had done.
But after giving her young cousin some piano lessons, Daphne changed direction and began a career teaching piano.
Similar in many ways to Steiner’s teachings, Daphne found herself drawn to the Suzuki method of teaching music which includes learning to play before learning to read music. Teaching piano and music theory, alongside farming became her life and soon saw Daphne giving lessons to Helensville school students.
Generations of young musicians over more than 70 years have benefited from her skills and love for piano and music.
In later years Daphne was able to concentrate all her efforts on her music and she was heavily involved with the New Zealand Suzuki Teachers Association, coestablishing the ‘Mainly Music’’ preschool programme at Waitoki, and other committee work including organising afternoon concerts of local musicians.
When she turned 90 she set up a scholarship fund to encourage young musicians.
Now residing near Orewa College, Daphne is still close to the students that were a big part of her life.
After over 70 years of inspiring young musicians Daphne Stevens has been recognised by the Queen.