Young Achiever: Rebecca's in tune with studies

By Rebecca Cawston


Rebecca Whalley was just 6 years old and on a play date when she picked up her first violin.

Her friend had left behind a tiny violin and, for whatever reason, never returned for it.

"I started playing around with it and my mother realised I quite liked it so I started taking lessons at school."

Rebecca, 17, from Katikati College had the opportunity to compete with some of the best high-school violinists in the country when she took part in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra in Christchurch during the April holidays.

It was a week full of rehearsals, workshops and working with top tutors.

Ricky Balfour from Bethlehem College also attended.

"We started with the entire symphony and, of course, it sounded terrible so then we went into sectionals and it just got better from there."

Rebecca found the week quite challenging. "Being surrounded by so many great players ... it was hard to keep up."

The programme included mastering two pieces - Cuban Overture, by Gershwin, and Symphony No4, by Tchaikovsky. Two technically difficult pieces, Rebecca says.

She had auditioned by DVD and was "over the moon" when she found out that she had been successful.

The grade eight violinist was born in England and grew up in Yorkshire. Her family moved to New Zealand in 2006.

Last year was a successful one for Rebecca - she won the Bay of Plenty Institute of Registered Music Teachers 2011 Senior Scholarship Award of $1000 and the Esma Rickard Memorial trophy, for instrumental performance.

In July, she featured at the Tauranga Performing Arts competitions and was first overall for the instrumental scholarship.

She's now a regular feature soloist at local festivals, including the multicultural festival and Katikati's twilight concerts; she even plays at Mount Maunganui's busking festivals.

Rebecca also plays with the Bay of Plenty Symphonia.

Her teacher is Val Thorburn from Bethlehem who teaches the New Zealand Suzuki Institute's method of music.

Rebecca gives lessons herself and is currently teaching two children of 6 and 7.

Last year, Rebecca was first in her school for Year 12 classical studies, history and music. The plan now is to study for a law degree as well as music or arts.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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