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Itinerant music lessons make a difference for Avcol musicians

As 2022 draws to a close, many senior students are still coming into school, dressed in uniform, to attend their itinerant music lessons each week. The itinerant music instrumental scheme, funded by the Ministry of Education, provides free lessons for approximately 400 students at Avondale College. The team of instrumental teachers are selected for their expertise and experience in developing the skill and musicianship of our young performers, preparing them for success in competitions and examinations. Each of the classroom music teachers also teaches their specialist instrument as part of the programme, which ensures a strong connection between the co-curricular programme, instrumental learning, and the classroom.

Many students who have come through Avondale College’s itinerant programme have gone on to become formidable musicians in today’s music industry. Lucas Kewell, who was Y13 in 2021 and learnt jazz piano with Mr Robinson (Head of Jazz) as part of the itinerant programme, is now studying piano at one of the top jazz tertiary institutions in the world, Berklee School of Music (New York). Francis Whall, a top performing Year 12 Cambridge Music student, has learnt jazz piano, electric and double bass through the itinerant programme since Year 9, and will join many past Avcol students who have successfully auditioned for a place in Performance Music at Auckland University. Francis says “Avondale's itinerant music lessons have given me the opportunity to learn from really skilled teachers and have encouraged me to develop and explore on my own.”

Francis’s itinerant electric bass teacher, Dave Hodkinson, was himself an itinerant bass student at Avondale College many years ago and has garnered a reputation as one of New Zealand’s finest jazz bass players. He came back to teach at Avondale College 13 years ago and hopes to instil the same passion for Music in his students as he gained all those years ago from his itinerant bass teacher. Teaching alongside him in the Avcol music studios is itinerant drum teacher Alistair Deverick, also an Avcol Music alumnus and past itinerant student. Alison Salmons, who teaches violin and viola at quite a few secondary schools and has also taught in Australia, really enjoys the team environment at Avondale College, saying “it is rare to feel such connection between the classroom, co-curriculars and itinerant programme in schools. The whole music teaching team - itinerants and classroom teachers alike - all work together to achieve the very best outcomes in music for their students”.


I've been taking trombone, jazz piano and vocal lessons through Avondale's itinerant music programme. The technical skills I've gained have been really useful for the different music groups I'm involved with. I'd encourage anyone thinking about signing up for lessons next year to go for it! It's always fun to learn new things - and playing music is great for your brain!

- Jakob Elijas, Year 12


"Music lessons have given me the opportunity to develop my skills on the cello and have also allowed me to expand my musical knowledge. The teachers are very passionate about what they do and I have enjoyed learning a lot from them at every lesson. Itinerant lessons have especially helped me to improve my technique for orchestral and ensemble groups such as the Symphony Orchestra and Classical Academy."

- Anastasia Colaco, Year 10

"In my itinerant music lessons, I always have fun and have learnt a lot. In lessons (especially ones with other students) I made some good friends, which was great as I didn't know many people at the start of the year. I would definitely recommend this to people who love playing/listening to music or just want to try something new."

- Felix Wong, Year 9


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