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.

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