A touch of master class for students

17:00, Jun 11 2014
MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT: Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi took time out of his busy schedule before his tour of New Zealand to spend time with violin students from Sistema Aotearoa.

It's not every day that aspiring young musicians meet, learn from and play alongside a world-class violinist.

But that is just the opportunity a group of students had when Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi visited the Otara Music and Arts Centre.

Chooi won the prestigious Michael Hill International Violin Competition in 2013 and is back in New Zealand for a countrywide tour.

He spent some time in Otara with students of Sistema Aotearoa, a partnership between the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra that provides musical group tuition in a community setting.

He played a piece for the admiring audience before answering some questions and taking part in the students' lessons.

The 25-year-old started playing the violin when he was 4 and feels honoured to be able to inspire budding young violinists.


"I remember being in one of these seminars. It's always inspiring. If I can maybe even teach one person then it's worth it," he says.

Sistema Aotearoa programme director Dr Joe Harrop says a number of top violinists have visited his students, including another previous Michael Hill competition winner and violinists from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. This kind of experience is important for the kids so they can see that they too could get to a similar level in their music, he says.

But it's not just the kids who benefit from such an experience.

"It's about showing those violinists what can be done at a community level with really well-developed group teaching. They can share their joy that they have with making music," Harrop says.

It's also good for tutors to get feedback on their teaching and show children and their families just how accessible classical music really is.

"Classical music is often seen as something for the elite but it's for everyone.

"It's fantastic to have big institutions like Michael Hill and the APO doing something for the kids of South Auckland."

Manukau Courier