(Written by Murray – March 2013)
I was at Matamata College from 1968 until 1972 when I left at the end of 6th form proudly clutching my UE. The Mason boys (in order of age) Seager, Raymond and Murray (twins), Kerry and Grant (twins) and sister Julie were not famous for their sporting prowess but were very well known for their bowl haircuts (not Julie), academic success and musical achievements – they were in fact known collectively by the extremely embarrassing (and probably memorable) title of the Musical Masons of Matamata.
I was an extremely wheezy and shy lad (with quite poor self esteem) who went through college endeavoring to be unnoticed and I was totally unaware (until just recently) that I was held in high regard by a large number of girls because of my lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Wish I’d known!
I left school to train as a teacher at Waikato University (from 1973 to74) majoring (surprisingly) in music. In ’75 I was launched on an unsuspecting class of Standard 3 and 4 students at a little school by the name of Orini Primary and I discovered that I not only had a passion for teaching but that I had a natural and comfortable connection with children of all ages. I have since had a teaching career that spans almost 35 years and I have loved every second of it. Later in ’75 I met my wife to be (Elizabeth) and married in 1977. We are still happily together and have a boy and a girl who are now 29 and 25.
I taught at primary level for 4 years (’75 to’78) and in 1979 Liz and I did the big OE to Europe. On our return in 1980 Liz gained work in Tauranga as a nurse and I attempted to get primary teaching work but found it very difficult because of the interrupted service system they had in place at that time – a form of punishment for anyone who had the cheek to go off to see the world and become more rounded and empathetic as a person.
As a result of this, I kind of fell sideways into secondary music teaching as a career and ended up teaching guitar and bass as an Itinerant Teacher of Music (ITM), which I did for 11 years. I was offered a position in 1991 as a permanent music teacher at Tauranga Boys’ College administering the ITM scheme for the region and did classroom teaching. Eventually I became HOD Music.
In 2000 I moved down the road to Tauranga Girls’ College where I took up a part-time position as Performance Music Teacher so that I could free up time to set up my own recording studio.
During my long and passionate career as a music teacher I have seen my greatest job perk as being able to tease students and get paid for it. During that time I have also worked quite hard and I have been musical director of a vast number of successful and award-winning youth-based and adult musical groups including Big Bands, Jazz Combos, Rock Groups, Percussion Ensembles, Saxophone Ensembles, Guitar Ensembles, Barbershop Choruses, Orchestras and Musical Theatre productions. Big Bands under my direction have won the New Zealand National Youth Jazz Band Title a total of six times. Jazz Combos I trained have won the National Title three times in the last six years and in fact in 2011 groups I trained won both the Big Band and Combo sections at the New Zealand Championships.
At present I am Musical Director for what is recognized as New Zealand’s top regional big band, Tauranga Big Band, and I operate my own recording studio, FAT DOG STUDIO from my home in Welcome Bay, Tauranga. My present dog (Holly), unlike her much-loved predecessor, is healthy, fit and not particularly fat, but by constantly and conscientiously supplementing her diet with stolen avocados, walnuts and macadamia nuts, she has the potential to become a four-legged blimp.
I spend my at-home time recording some artists, but mostly writing and recording original compositions (for three acoustic guitars, bass and drums) which I have published on my own website (www.fatdogmusic.co.nz) and I am selling to secondary schools throughout New Zealand (and hopefully eventually the world!).
In my spare time I maintain an acre of land and follow a love of boat building and restoration, spend as much time as I can on the water and try to run four times a week to prepare for half marathons – I am no longer a wheezy little chap. Liz and I also try to devote as much time as we can to each other and family and friends, who are very important to us.
Where to from here? We have done quite a lot of travel over the years and absolutely love it, so in about seven years we will both retire (kind of) and we are talking about purchasing a canal boat and seeing the amazing river systems of Western Europe.
Hopefully by then my compositions will be earning us heaps of loot so that can see out our days in blissful splendor.