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Janetta McStay: A pianist and teacher's legacy

This thesis investigates the life and legacy of pianist and teacher Janetta Mary McStay (20 May 1917–14 June 2012) as one of the foremost musicians of the twentieth century in New Zealand, exceptional in her achievements and skill. McStay was the country’s first full-time lecturer in piano at the University of Auckland where she taught from 1963 to 1982. The majority of the data was gathered through primary research in a series of interviews with McStay’s former students in order to find out her pedagogical methods, their impressions of McStay as a performer, how her diverse interests and life experiences informed her musicianship, and her enduring legacy on themselves as well as the author. The first two chapters supply McStay’s biographical information, from her early childhood, to studies in London, followed by years of touring for the Allied troops in the Second World War as part of the Entertainments National Service Association, post-war life, and her return to New Zealand. Interviews with McStay conducted by Catherine Mayo were a great help in constructing this narrative. Chapter three investigates McStay’s pedagogy in depth, informed by the personal stories told by her former pupils. McStay’s initial years of teaching at the University of Auckland, the general atmosphere and pastoral care, and her methods of cultivating musicianship and technique, and criticisms from the students are discussed. The last chapter details McStay’s last years and reflections from the students on the legacy she left behind. The thesis culminates with a story of my own experience while getting to know McStay through the stories of others, and the legacy she imparted unto me.
Type of thesis
The University of Waikato
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