“Providing our students with a supportive environment gives them the confidence they need to take risks and discover what they’re capable of.”
As one of New Zealand’s most influential music teachers, Kyle Proffit has helped shaped some of the country’s most successful musicians, including Broods and Robinson.
While Kyle’s delighted that some of his students have become world-class musicians, he is just as proud of the international students whose lives have been changed through studying music at his school.
A Japanese student who had given up a successful career as a travelling musician rekindled his passion for music at Garin College. “He came back to life here by playing the music he loved,” says Kyle.
Another Japanese student was shy and withdrawn when he arrived in New Zealand, but decided he wanted to learn the drums. He formed a strong bond with his drums tutor and ended up playing in an award-winning band – and becoming Dux (the highest academic performer) of his year.
“I am so proud of my international students and how they develop here: not just musically, but as confident, independent people,” says Kyle.
“I always make a point of spending time with new international students to find out where they come from, what their family is like and what their school was like.
“I want to build a connection with them and help them to feel part of our community.”
The New Zealand education system encourages lifelong learning, for teachers as well as students. Kyle makes it a priority to constantly stay in touch with new trends in music, music production and music technology.
“Every student is different, and the way students learn is changing so fast. As a music teacher and a mentor, I need to keep up to date and understand what students’ lives are like – inside and outside the classroom.”
Kyle says he sometimes only meets his international students’ parents for the first time when they come to watch their children perform just before leaving New Zealand.
“The parents of our international students are amazed to see what their children are capable of. They can’t believe how skilled they are, or how strong and independent they’ve become,” he says.
“They usually either break down in tears or get up and dance.”