While Hawke's Bay has a thriving music scene, established artists say sometimes there are hard choices to be made if artists want to keep on rocking for a living.

A case in point is Havelock North deputy principal Joel Wilton, who was eyeing up a career on stage - even playing with one of New Zealand's best musicians - before embarking on his teaching vocation.

"I used to be in bands for years and years," he said.

"I first got into music when I was really young, playing the piano. Then eventually my parents succumbed and bought me a drum kit, and then I played music right through school with friends - in things like the Smokefree Rockquest.


"I kept playing after school and finally started a band called Golden Horse later on.

"I was adamant growing up that I was going to make a career of it. I taught music and the drums, played with Dave Dobbyn's band and a few other bands. So, I was doing my best at making a living out of it and then things change in your life - you have kids and you stop wanting to tour all the time."

In 2000 he made the switch to teaching chemistry, after previously teaching the drums while touring.

Now at Havelock North High School, he said he was thrilled to still be able to be involved in music.

"I think schools are incredible places for developing young people's potential in all sorts of areas. The fact Havelock North High School offers so many opportunities for students in so many areas is a real attraction for me.

"One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a teacher is having the opportunity to watch students develop as young actors, musicians, sportspeople and academics. I still recall attending the Year 13 leavers function in my first year at HNHS and watching two students playing bluegrass on an old acoustic guitar and washboard. I remember thinking 'this is definitely the school for me'."

Acclaimed Te Awanga performer Ben Throp also knows the difficulties of touring and trying to make it as a musician but points out that the scene in Hawke's Bay is blessed with people well able and willing to help people along the way.

Ben Throp, formerly of Intimate Strangers, now on a new gig with Hail to the Thieves. Photo/File
Ben Throp, formerly of Intimate Strangers, now on a new gig with Hail to the Thieves. Photo/File

"I was encouraged into the local music scene by already established musicians who I had met at open mic evenings. I surrounded myself with experienced musicians from the outset and learnt much of my trade by listening to their advice and playing in pubs and cafes as much as possible. Open mic nights were great places to meet other keen musos."


At the end of last year he joined a band - Hail to the Thieves with Jeff Boyle - and he was happy to give some advice to any up and comers.

"Play with the best musicians possible, never neglect the musical elements such as Tone, Dynamic Variation, Texture. Find your own style/voice and, dare to be different.

"If an original idea comes into your head - capture it before the magic leaves you."

He also urged people and musicians to support venues like the Cabana, the Paisley Stage and the Common Room, which support musicians.