The Marshall Laing Music School has been providing quality, affordable music tuition to kids for generations, and is well-known locally. What may not be so well-known is the influence this music school has had on countless individuals who have gone on to make music their career or life-long passion.
Jenny Rawlings’ children were all pupils of the school, and she recalls, “With two mortgages and a lease, and four children, we were extremely grateful for Marshall Laing Music School, as it opened up a door to different instruments that would not otherwise have been available.”
Jenny’s eldest, Deborah, learned violin and subsequently played in orchestras. While studying performance music at Auckland University, she also taught keyboard at Marshall Laing. Deborah is now pursuing a professional career in music in Germany. Another daughter, Christine, also learned the violin at Marshall Laing, becoming a member of the Auckland Youth Orchestra and occasional member of the St Matthews orchestra, while pursuing medicine. Jenny herself is now one of the team of dedicated and passionate music teachers at the school.
Generations have benefited, and former students have passed on the torch to their children. Heather Robinson, who lives in Lynfield, was a foundation member of the music school when she was 10 or 11 and learned the piano accordion. She recalls that leaflets came to Waikowhai Primary advertising that a music school was opening up. Years later when her eldest son, Warwick, received a leaflet at school and was keen to learn, she realised the music school was still going.
At this stage the effects of the 1987 crash were still being felt by many families, with unemployment quite common. Heather’s three children all availed themselves of the music school, and Warwick went on to teach there. After completing his music performance degree Warwick qualified as a secondary school teacher and is now H.O.D of music at Westlake Boys. “Orchestras became part of their lives,” says Heather. “Warwick met his future wife, Miriam, at a combined orchestra. All these opportunities would have been missed without Marshall Laing.”
The Marshall Laing Music School started in 1963 and is still going strong. Their aim is to provide group music lessons for primary and intermediate age school students, the majority of which are Ministry of Education subsidised. They also offer a range of non-subsidised music lessons for all age groups.
Music School Coordinator since 2014, Michael Greenwood, is enthusiastic about new developments at the school. A large, new, multi-purpose music space has recently been completed which has made it possible to now offer after-school lessons, as well as being perfect for orchestra rehearsals.
Michael is also excited about the new summer school in January being offered for the first time. This unique two-day school, called Feel the Beat. Put a Rhythm in your Feet! will be taught by Marie Willis, a specialist in the Dalcroze method. The course is designed to help children explore and understand rhythm, without the use of musical notes on a page.