A Manawatu schoolgirl flautist has earned widespread accolades for her classical performances on an instrument she picked up for the first time as a teenager.
Nga Tawa College student Alice Wood, 18, a talented musician who divides her time between her Napier home and boarding school, has juggled such instruments as piano, guitar and flute throughout her school years.
Yet it is her success performing solo as a flautist that has seen her rack up awards and scholarships, despite having played the instrument for only six years.
She likens the sound of a flute to the human voice.
"Flute is, I think, a bit more expressive," Alice explains. "I could get a bit more expression into it than with guitar or piano. It is the closest I get to singing without actually singing."
The year 13 student earned grade 8 award with distinction for her flute efforts in year 11, playing Mozart's Concerto in G, Ballade by Reinecke, and Concertino by Chaminade for examiners and other musicians in a daunting recital which she calls her proudest performance to date.
Alice cannot put a figure on the number of times she has performed. "It's a big blur of music competitions, really!" When asked about her awards, it is with a touch of sheepishness that she admits she will need to leave the room to consult the trophy cabinet.
Among her achievements, most recently Alice competed as part of a Nga Tawa Chamber Music trio which scooped awards at a national competition this year.
She was also a runner-up for this year's Sonia Wilson scholarship which she has won in years past - an award judged by Whanganui's registered music teachers which requires entrants to perform a three-piece professional style music recital.
For three years running, Alice has won the Glenis Mobberley scholarship from the Manawatu Performing Arts competition, which is awarded annually to the musician who earns the highest score in any wind class, and at last year's competition she placed first in her senior wind division.
Alice says the key to her confidence is her dedication to practising every day. She practises for up to three hours daily when an exam is imminent. Blending her passion for music with rowing and a school timetable heavy with sciences and physical education, Alice says she devises herself a strict study and rehearsing schedule which she claims is quite simple: "I just get up early and do my practice and multitask."
Alice's music teacher, Ingrid Culliford, teaches flute and other instruments privately, as well as to Nga Tawa and Wanganui Collegiate students. She describes Alice as a dedicated flautist.
"She's very exceptional and she's a naturally talented musician. She has been a great asset to Nga Tawa . . . she has got amazing stage presence. She approaches her music with assurance and her playing matches that."
Despite her success as a musician, the Nga Tawa schoolgirl is bent on carving out an academic path when she leaves school.
Alice hopes to study law and psychology at either Victoria or Otago University next year.
Although she has no plans to study music at tertiary level, the budding lawyer is adamant she will not be packing away any of her instruments just yet.
"I've put so much time into it over the last few years that it would be a shame to throw it away."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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