Austrian-born music teacher and Sefton resident Sigrid McTurk talks to Cullen Smith.
How long have you been teaching music?
I've been a music teacher for more than 20 years now, in Europe and here in North Canterbury.
When did you come to New Zealand?
Fifteen years ago. Austria is my birth country. I married Chris McTurk and I've enjoyed living here ever since.
How and when did you meet Chris?
I met him in North Canterbury. I travelled New Zealand 17 years ago with my backpack and did "woofing" (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) as I have a background in agriculture and horticulture and I thought I'd like to get to know the country.
My family has a long association with the Ashford spinning and weaving equipment company in Ashburton. My parents had a business distributing Ashford products in Europe and I had an offer to come here to see the land. My mother and I had a wonderful time being hosted here for three weeks and I stayed on.
What sort of family business was it?
Selling sustainable housing products - everything from paint to materials. Part of it was spinning wheels and weaving looms. My mother became one of the well-known weaving teachers in Austria. I've taken up her passion for craft and fibre as much as my music.
How did you become a music teacher?
I've grown up with music all my life. My parents played instruments and my siblings, too. My twin sister is a highly trained musician, but I never pursued a higher music education because there were so many violin players around. I carried on taking lessons.
Do you specialise in teaching violin?
And flute. When I came here I played at our wedding and from then I've had students coming to me. I always have music students who want to come and play.
How many students are you teaching now?
I have nine. I keep low numbers so it's one on one. Most of them come here to my house and for some of them I go to their homes in Christchurch.
What are you teaching?
Violin, flute and recorder. I hope to extend the focus to early childhood music and movements and have small groups coming as an introduction to the world of music.
You're also a qualified early childhood teacher?
Yes I teach part-time at the Rudolf Steiner School in Opawa.
Have any of your students gone on to a successful music career?
Three of the nine top music students in North Canterbury have been students of mine and all have carried on to high achievements, so I must be doing something right.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm 44. I met Chris and went home with a marriage proposal. He's an electronics engineer. He came over to Austria for half a year but it was another 1-1/2 years before I finished my social worker training until we got married. He came over again for our wedding then we came back here together. We love living in Sefton.
Do you have a message for any parents considering a music education for their children?
I think everybody should have music in their life. There is a strong evidence from research to show that brain development, especially in the early years, benefits from music and movement.