17 Sep 2019

Music Teacher of the Year finalists announced

From RNZ Music, 6:00 am on 17 September 2019

The three finalists for the second annual Music Teacher of the Year have been announced.

The 2018 Music Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Sneyd, with prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

The 2018 Music Teacher of the Year, Elizabeth Sneyd, with prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Photo: Supplied

The Music Teacher of the Year Award is part of the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards (VNZMAs) and recognises the incredible impact teachers have on their students and the local community.

Last year's winner was Elizabeth Sneyd who runs the Virtuoso Strings programme for students at low decile schools in Porirua.

The winner will be announced at the VNZMA Artisan Awards in November.

The finalists this year are Jane Egan from Gisborne Girls High School, Duncan Ferguson from St Andrews College in Christchurch, and Sue Banham from Rosehill College in Auckland.

The three finalists were selected from 200 nominations received for 76 individual music teachers/mentors across Aotearoa.

Jane Egan: transforming through music

2019 Music Teacher of the Year nominee Jane Egan

2019 Music Teacher of the Year nominee Jane Egan Photo: Supplied

Nominated for her second year in a row, Jane has made an impact on hundreds of children’s lives as Head of Department at Gisborne Girls High School.

She believes in the magic of the music room, where shy and insecure students transform into flourishing individuals, passionate and confident in their ability to compose and play music.

Gisborne Girls High School is home to two choirs, a combined-schools orchestra and six chamber groups, as well as 12 Rockquest bands and 15 entries in the Smokefree Rockquest Solo/Duo competition.

“I encourage students to try everything. Just because they’ve never written a song before doesn't mean they can't. Just because they haven't ever heard their voice recorded doesn't mean they can't sing,” Jane says.

Duncan Ferguson: bustling curricular and co-curricular activity

2019 Music Teacher of the Year nominee Duncan Ferguson

2019 Music Teacher of the Year nominee Duncan Ferguson Photo: Supplied

Duncan is the Head of Music at St Andrew’s College in Christchurch, where he manages 30 co-curricular groups across all genres of music from orchestra and chamber music to jazz, rock and electronica.

More than 140 students are involved in these groups, which he fosters in the local community. In the classroom Duncan redesigns his courses annually to maximise student motivation and engagement.

“My students are not allowed to ask, “What do I need to do to get excellence?” We are always looking at where they are at as performers, composers, producers, musicologists and what do they need to do to get better,” Duncan says.

His students have strong representation in national competitions. Under Duncan’s stewardship, rock groups have flourished at the school, with ten bands entering in this year’s Rockquest (the most of any Christchurch school).

The orchestral programme at St Andrew’s is equally as strong, numbering around 60 students a year. There are six groups in this year’s Chamber Music Contest, and last year the school made regional finals at the event.

Sue Banham: international aspirations

2019 Music Teacher of the Year nominee Sue Banham

2019 Music Teacher of the Year nominee Sue Banham Photo: Supplied

Sue is Head of Department for music at Rosehill College.

Over the past 14 years, Sue’s worked with students to organise ‘Concert Music Tours’, where they perform in schools, churches, and public venues, connecting with musicians in other parts of the world and forging lifetime memories.

On top of travelling the North Island and South Island, Sue has toured with her students through Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Argentina.

She even had a group perform on the Great Wall of China.

“I strongly believe that students need to have a place at school where they feel they belong and can be accepted for who they are. I am committed to providing students with ensembles to which they can belong and feel the sense of family,” Sue says.

Related:
  • Virtuoso Strings after school programme silenced
  • Elizabeth Sneyd is NZ's first ever Music Teacher of the Year
  • NZ Music Awards 2018: RNZ live coverage
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