Piano teacher wants to form teaching trust

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 12:26 14/09/2012
Anna Cannon
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
IN SUPPORT: Music teacher Anna Cannon with student Hannah Gray, 13. Cannon wants to start up a charitable trust for Southland musicians to further their music careers abroad.

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Better to be a "teddy bear teacher" then a virtuoso who is like an iceberg, Anna Cannon believes.

The Invercargill music instructor wants to set up a charitable trust to send music students on to greater things at the Chethams International Piano Summer School in England where their talent can be gently - but intensely - nurtured into careers on stage or in the teaching profession.

The idea came after hearing virtuoso pianist Murray McLachlan in Dunedin last year, who stressed the advantage of keeping lessons intensive and encouraging in the beginning.

It's an environment she believes students - who normally have only 20 hours a year of lessons - will thrive in.

"Murray came across as a passionate performer and teacher who was concerned with helping each student achieve their very best [while] enjoying their lessons and performances."

Cannon said it inspired her to start fundraising for a trip to England, to sort out future trips to Chethams for her students so they could get the same encouragement.

"He spoke the same language as me," she said of McLachlan. Her own research led her to conclude that with any instrument the "quicker you get it, the more fun you have".

Though to do this, students with promise need to have the equivalent of a music boot camp. Cannon's own intensive workshops - with 60 students aged four to 80 - could only go so far.

"Top pianists down here have no where to go. We are losing our young people because of this . . . but why should we miss out?"

Fundraising would initially go towards a trip to the 2013 summer school at Chethams, with the intention of bringing young pianists with her in 2014 "and beyond", she says.

"I need to have done it myself, but I'm hoping to get other teachers on board."

It isn't just England, she says. There are opportunities for musicians to study intensively in Australia as well.

The point of the charitable trust is to give students the best opportunities early on, so if they have the ability to turn their music into a career, they have all the tools necessary.

Some of this might include flying teachers to Southland to give workshops, she says.

Right now, Southland doesn't have that level of professional development.

"Professional development doesn't come down here. People say ‘oh well that's the way it is' and I just think ‘well, no, lets help people reach their potential'."

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Cannon says she has already embarked on a series of fundraising activities, which will include the annual variety concert tomorrow night at the Lindisfarne Community Centre.

It will be a "gala atmosphere" she says, with raffles and silent auctions, cupcakes and entertainment.

The variety concert will start tomorrow at 6.30pm at the community centre. Entry is free, but people are asked to bring a donation of pet food for the SPCA. Raffle prizes, including $200 of music vouchers, will also be drawn.

- The Southland Times

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