Name: Rev. Rona Halsall
Location: New Zealand
Activity: Music teaching
Rev Rona Halsall ONZM LTCL FIRMTNZ lives in Westport, New Zealand, where she teaches music at a local high school, as well as in her private studio. Rona, who took her first graded music exam at the age of 8 and has been entering students for exams since she was 15 years old, is also Trinity College London's representative for the West Coast.
Coming from a musical family, there was never any doubt that music would play a big part in Rona’s life.
“I inherited, as many of us did, a very sound, solid teaching base with the Sisters Of Mercy - the catholic nuns. The same nun who taught me, taught my grandmother, my mother, my aunt. There are five girls in our family, and she taught us five girls.”
Rona certainly wasn’t the first one in her family to take a Trinity music exam.
“I still have my mum’s certificates from 1932 and 1933 from when she was about 10 and took her initial and first steps exams – it’s still in the roll with the stamp on it from England!”
By the time Rona was 15 years’ old, she had got to grade 8 in piano and grade 5 in theory, but then some sad news set Rona on a new path.
“When I was about 15, my music teacher became very ill, and I had to take over two of her students – I put a girl through grade 6 and then another girl through 5, and then my teacher passed away.”
After that Rona took some time away from music to focus on dental nursing, but it wasn’t long before she found herself knocking on the door of her old school.
“This rather elderly nun who answered the door looked at me very sternly and said don't you think it’s time you came back yourself? So, I was with her for 12 years and I did my ATCL and LTCL with her!”
Since then, Rona’s entered hundreds of students for Trinity exams, and never stops taking on new challenges.
“I’ve entered for 14 different instruments myself, so that’s been an absolute joy but very challenging.”
We asked Rona what it is about Trinity exams in particular that she values.
“I inherited a wonderful examination board, and my passion has never waned. For me it’s a personal yardstick, it keeps me on my metal, and it gives our children the opportunity to see that they can reach a worldwide standard.”
“The whole historical element to me comes in - the whole tried and true aspect of what Trinity is, what it offers and the fact that stays so relevant for the time.”
“I’ve got the best job in the world! I find it so exciting. I say to the children I’ll never ever reach the end of it because the more I learn the less I know.”