Week Nine of this term was a significant one for the Music Department as we had two days of mentoring with Julia Deans who is the frontwoman of New Zealand band Fur Patrol, followed by our annual concert hosted by Thames Music Group.
Julia’s mentoring comes through the New Zealand Music Commission, and we have been fortunate in having the same mentor for two years running. Julia arrived with an already-established rapport with many of our senior students, something that is needed when you are delving into a person’s heart and soul, and streamlined the initial process so that they were able to get straight to work.
My Year 10 music class were lucky to have time with Julia to create a band and learn a Bob Marley song together before some of our more courageous students performed for her. They then spent time talking with her about what it is like to be a professional musician, and how she developed her own career.
One of the things I find Julia does well is to guide our composition students into finding their own direction so that they come up with new, and perhaps unexpected ideas from places they may not have thought about. This means that the taiohi keep control of their own creative journey while developing and applying new concepts in their own way. This nurtures the creative courage of the students as they find their own voice. While the timing of Julia’s visit meant a big week, it was great to hear her teaching being put into practice at our concert that happened on Friday 23 June.
Held at St. George’s Church, the ‘road crew’ and sound technicians did an amazing job of packing and unpacking two cars (twice each) in the rain, without damaging any gear. Two of the four bands that played had spent time with Julia, and we had every year group presented in some way. The Year 9 piano students are an asset to our department and will become a strong focal point for us as time goes on. We ran several senior performance assessments as a part of this concert. Our vocal ensemble book-ended the programme with a Matariki-themed waiata to open, and a three-part setting of the Celtic Blessing to close with. Students stage-managed, problem-solved, and compèred together, and it was potentially the slickest on/off stage movement that I have ever seen.
I am very proud of the performance my taiohi did, and I am proud of – and grateful to – my department for the way they all pitched in to support those who were performing on the day.
I look forward to doing it all again next year.
Kaiarataki / HoD Music Teacher, Kaiāwhina / Dean Yr 11