Music career ends on a high note

LAURA MACDONALD
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2013
Shona Murray
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
DEDICATED: Tawa woman Shona Murray received a New Year honour for services to music and choirs.

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A Tawa woman who has dedicated her life to music says being awarded a Queen's Service Medal is a tribute to the whole community.

Shona Murray received the New Year honour for her contribution to education and music, areas in which she has worked since the 1970s.

She says that while it was a lovely surprise to be given the award, she felt a bit guilty receiving it.

''It's an honour for the community; it's hard to think of it as an award just for me,'' she says.

Mrs Murray, married to former New Zealand test cricketer Bruce Murray, worked at Tawa College from 1977 until 2011.

She was the driving force behind the Tawa Schools and Community music festivals that have made the suburb a strong centre for music in Wellington.

The festivals, which began in  1979, are now huge events involving more than 700 people.

She organised her 21st and final festival in 2010 and was succeeded for the 2012 event by one of her former pupils at Tawa College.

''[It] was the first festival I actually got to watch,'' she says.

Mrs Murray was raised in China until she was 8.

Her love of music began in the church - her father was a minister and a violinist.

''I grew up in a family really keen on music. I was at church early on, singing.''

In the sixth form at Mana College she realised just how important music was to her and after Teachers' College, completed a bachelor of music degree at Victoria University.

Mrs Murray says as a musician she has had the ''privilege of playing, performing and conducting in a wide cross section of venues''.

She even played for prison services at the Arohata Borstal, a former correctional facility for young people, where her father was chaplain.

''I often think this had a profound influence on me as well,'' she says.

Her parents believed that every person deserved a new beginning: Something that was reflected in Mrs Murray's own education philosophy.

''I truly tried to give each child I taught a clean slate every morning as they came through the door.''

She says the best thing about her career was seeing children who did not think they had talent realising they could play music.

Although officially retired, she says she is still involved with choirs and wants to learn the drums by the age of 80.

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- The Dominion Post

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