ICELANDIC-born, New Zealand-based singer-songwriter Hera, has toured the globe for many years playing her unique music which has been influenced strongly by dual emotional investment in both of her cultures.
Hera has a gold record in Iceland, and has been named 'best female artist' at the Icelandic music awards in 2003, and her song 'Makebelieve' was a finalist in the United States song writing competition.
For many years she has been involved in NZ Commission’s Musicians Mentoring in Schools Programme alongside artists such as Jon Toogood, Maisey Rika, Chris Mac of Six60 and Julia Deans, who have shared their expertise in songwriting, instrumental and vocal technique, recording technology, and music industry insight.
Believing in the Programme and what it does for Kiwi students, Hera finds inspiration working with emerging talent.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE PART IN MUSICIANS MENTORING IN SCHOOLS?
I chose to take part in Musicians Mentoring in Schools because I believe it’s a wonderful programme. Creating and performing original material is a very powerful and personal thing, it can be scary.
I love seeing the students let go and start using music as a medium of expression and release.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN IT?
It’s been so long I think I’ve lost count...maybe about 12 or 13 years now?
One of my first sessions was back at my old high-school; since then I’ve been all over the country and have worked with students from 4-years-old to university students, spoken at seminars, have run adult workshops as well as one-on-one writing sessions.
It’s an awesome programme to be a part of.
WHAT KIND OF WORK DO YOU DO WITH THE STUDENTS?
I run songwriting workshops, but it’s quite broad really.
I do an introductory session and talk about the music industry and what it means to be a performer, stage-fright and collaboration.
The kids have a huge opportunity being in school around peers with different interests - I try to encourage an environment of support and cross-promotion, tell them to get together to work on a project; find each other and make use of the resources available; for example a music video or recording collaboration, band-poster creations, photography, social media and website design.
I like to look at lyric writing and trying to encourage the students to find new ways to say things, think about what you’re putting out there, write and re-write.
The opportunity to share your work with the world is literally at your fingertips - it’s also important to let go and have fun with it.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT BEING PART OF THE MENTORING PROGRAMME?
I recently went back to a school I mentored at just over a year ago, and seeing what the students had done in the meantime was awesome.
They were writing more songs and performing regularly - the difference was amazing to see and hear.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT YOURSELF FROM BEING INVOLVED?
It's a great reminder to have fun and try something new, inspiration is definitely an infectious thing and it’s great to be in and help create that supportive environment where you’re not afraid to let go and sing the wrong note, just roll with what comes out and keep playing with ideas.
It’s healthy to be silly.
HOW DO YOU THINK MUSIC EDUCATION IN NZ SCHOOLS CAN BE IMPROVED?
I think it’s changed a lot in the 17 years since I was a student, wonderful to see ukuleles being used, I think that’s a great first instrument for a singer/songwriter.
There is always room for improvement but it’s absolutely great to see where it is going, with things like the mentoring programme with the number of experienced and talented mentors available, in different areas of the music industry and with such a huge variety of styles, and there’s a real opportunity to cater to students with a keen interest in music and performance.