THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE TEACHERS' QUESTIONNAIRE: Jane Egan of Gisborne Girls High School

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THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE TEACHERS' QUESTIONNAIRE: Jane Egan of Gisborne Girls High School
When the organisers of last year's annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards were considering the landscape of local music they wanted the awards to acknowledge the past, the present and the future.

The past is taken care of with the winner of the Legacy Award, the present is acknowledged on the night and the future is . . .

Well, that is largely in the hands of the hundreds of music teachers around the country who tirelessly encourage, coax and cajole new talent to express itself.

So last year for the first time music teachers were being acknowledged in an inaugural award.

Nominations were called for (hundreds came in) and a shortlist of three finalists emerged.

One of them is Jane Egan of Gisborne Girls High School.

As Head of Department, she provides students with the chance to work with and learn from local musicians, encouraging the students to get involved with music at an extracurricular level. 

In 2018 alone, Gisborne Girls High School saw the development of 12 Rockquest bands, eight Tangata Beats Bands and 15 entries in Rockquest Solo/Duo. There had also been two choirs, an orchestra, six chamber groups and a ukulele group.

Last year Jane Egan answered a specially designed Famous Elsewhere Teachers' Questionnaire . . . and because she has again been nominated for the 2019 award we invite you to read again her answers.


The first piece of music which really affected you was . . . 

I quite distinctly remember as an 11 year old watching RTR countdown and hearing Shona Laing Drive Baby Drive and thinking woah you can be a Rocker and be a Woman and be from New Zealand. I guess as a teacher I try to give “my girls” the same sense of possibility that this made me feel, as girls, even with role models like Lorde still lack the confidence in their abilities that their male counterparts seem to have.

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

Because my Mum was a folk musician I spent considerable time hanging out at folk clubs and festivals when I was really small, so people like Phil Garland, Mike Harding and Graham Wardrop were really influential in shaping me musically. Hearing and seeing Graham play definitely pushed me further into exploring the possibilities of what guitars could do.

Any inspirational teacher you had a child, if so who and what made them special?

I had two inspirational music teachers who had obviously a massive influence on my life and can really be credited with where I am today.  Maurine Anderson & Gina Shanks were both music teachers at Gisborne Girls High School. They saw potential in me that I didn’t. In year 9 I was so shy that I hid behind the curtains in the hall to play tambourine in our class performance, but because of the kindness shown to me by these music teachers I continued with music and in year 13 topped the class. Not only did they give me a great musical education but they taught that with kindness, compassion and music positive change can happen.

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

Well at one point I wanted to be a signwriter but being Dyslexic that probably wasn't going to be the best career choice.  I was pretty keen on woodwork so maybe a luthier

The three pieces of music you would love everyone to hear are . . .

Seriously - Sara Barallis & Leslie Odom Jnr

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room - John Mayer - I’m a sucker for the guitar solo at the end!

Things Change -Camille Te Nahu and Stuie French

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home...

Give it a Girl poster given to me by Debbie Harwood and signed by Deb, Annie Crummer, Shona Laing, Sharon O'Neill,  Julia Deans, Margaret Urlich & Lisa Crawley an inspiring powerhouse of NZ Woman musicians.

jimiThe best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Room Full of Mirrors, a biography of Jimi Hendrix

If you could perform with anyone it would be?

Probably James Taylor although after the recent concert I would have to say I quite fancy being Pinks guitarist, just don't think Im quite up to the acrobatic skills required of that job.

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

*Sister Act 2 - Often feels like me that this is my daily life especially if I’m  going to fancy choir competitions!

*Edward Scissorhands - kind of my alter ego in a way

*Coco - think I was Mexican in a former life and can relate to the fact the main character’s Dad wasn't keen on him doing music as a career but comes around eventually.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was  . . . (And your most recent downloads include...)

Last CD purchase (well technically given to me)  was “Looking for Alaska”

Last downloads

Paramore - After Laughter

Julia Deans - We light Fire

Missy Higgins - Solastalgia

The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

I have part of a Ben Harper poster from his 2003 Australia tour that my sister tore off a bollard in Sydney. Its got no words, just a stencil of his face and is really thick with layers of posters holding it together, its been on my wall that long so I guess its a keeper.

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

The score of the opening bars of Jimi Hendrix Little Wing around my forearm always wanted it just haven’t found the time to do it.

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where and doing what?

Finishing my album - been five years in the making at this point! Where - right here in Gisborne actually always pleased to come back to my beautiful hometown.

And finally, given that teaching is an increasingly demanding job these days, why do you keep doing it?

I love creating and pushing the boundaries, whether it’s helping students realise new songs or creating a new arrangement for choir, or creating an event for students to gain experience through, or putting a crazy combo of kids and instruments together to see what happens.  its an amazing ever changing whirlpool of creative energy so you just kinda jump (or get sucked) in and hold on for the ride. 

Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, Spark Arena, Auckland. Thursday 15th November

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