Dorothy Hopkins is an inspiration to many New Zealanders of all ages. For well over 60 years she has contributed in areas of the arts and community. She devotedly achieves extraordinary things and makes a positive difference to the lives of others, as many Kiwis will attest to. She has had a wide and varied musical career, and is known throughout New Zealand both in the field of light entertainment and serious music.
Dorothy is a fellow of the Trinity of London College of Music and as such holds a FTCL Diploma of Music. This comes from years of singing, teaching singing, piano playing and music theory. She is also a Member of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers (www.irmt.org.nz) as she currently teaches singing and theory.
Dorothy married the love of her life ‘Rod’ (Rodney) in the 50s and they went on to have three children. Today she is an adoring Grandmother of seven and Great-Grandmother to five. Despite her busy career she has always placed great importance on her family.
Teaching Singing -
To date Dorothy is one of the busiest classical singing teachers in New Zealand. In fact demand has meant she has continued teaching well into her 80s. Many Kiwis of all ages have benefited from her teaching. Numerous celebrities including; Max Cryer, Ray Columbus, Tina Cross, John Rosser … But the pupils she finds the most enjoyment teaching are those just beginning out. She takes the greatest joy in encouraging and teaching them and loves seeing them blossom into all that they can be. She has a desire to see New Zealand singers competing on the world stage. She believes in the potential of individual Kiwis and keeps up with new and innovative techniques to bring their abilities to world standard.
“Dorothy … takes a special interest in helping young singers, some of whom have achieved considerable success under her guidance” - Roskill & Onehunga News, 25/5/66
Professional Development -
In 1981 she had the opportunity to “…make an observation trip to the world’s music capitals, to assess New Zealand’s vocal standards and to keep in touch with current vocal teaching methods” ( 24/8/81, Newspaper Article). The trip was made possible by an arts council study grant and provided Dorothy with an enormous opportunity to research singing and vocals at a world standard. She recognised the opportunity to take in as much as possible and to bring back her findings to New Zealand to share with her colleagues and pupils. Subsequently she was a University Extension Course Lecturer for Aspiring Singing Teachers.
“… singing teachers don’t just teach singing, they contribute to a person’s individual growth a great deal, just as a sports coach can”
- Dorothy Hopkins, 24/8/81, Newspaper
Vocal Coaching -
During her career she has gained knowledge of the vocals and subsequently developed into a respected vocal coach. This has been through her singing, being a singing teacher and working with other professionals (locally and overseas) within the music industry. This meant that in the 70s and 80s Dorothy worked as a vocal consultant for Television New Zealand (TVNZ), she has also consulted for numerous stage musicals. Following vocal studies with Dorothy, John Rosser (The NBR New Zealand Opera Associate Conductor and Chorus Master) has sung as baritone soloist with groups throughout the country and performed roles for Mercury Opera and Opera Boutique. In 2007 Ray Columbus took vocal training lessons with her to help improve his vocal range.
“After six weeks of silence I had to learn to sing all over again from the great Dorothy Hopkins...my voice was like an old jalopy trying to turn over…” – Ray Columbus, 2007 (http://www.grownups.co.nz/read/lifestyle/entertainment/november-ramblings)
Singing and Performing –
Dorothy Hopkins is known as a soprano of considerable reputation. She has been the lead lady in numerous stage musicals, sung for the NZ symphony, operas, and regular concerts and toured for the NZBC and CAS. She is probably best remembered as a singer for being a member of the Cheeseman Singers who performed on Television and toured throughout the North Island during the 1960’s. Twelve of New Zealand's best voices, six each of men and women, were gathered together as the Cheeseman Singers to record a "Sing-a-long" TV programme.
Korean War and Challenges -
Not so well known is her time spent overseas with the New Zealand troops during the Korean War. She went as part of a concert party in 1953, sent to entertain New Zealand troops in Korea and Japan. This had a profound effect on her personal outlook of life and gave her a greater empathy. She speaks of her time in Korea and Japan during the war with compassion and a heart for the local people and a great deal of respect and love for our troops. Her Brother tragically died as a New Zealand Pilot in training some time before the Korean War.
Wider Community –
Throughout the years Dorothy has voluntarily given of her time to individuals and groups. She is so passionate about music and helping people that it has always been her priority … not the money. Many community groups have benefited from her generosity with her time given to regular vocal training and singing tips. Baptist Churches such as Mount Roskill, Glenfield and Avondale have certainly valued her contribution. Wherever she can lend a hand within the community or with an individual pupil she has.
To Conclude -
Although outwardly kind-hearted, well-mannered and dismissive of any personal praise, in reality Dorothy Hopkins is a hugely talented singer and teacher. This, and her innate refined warmth and thoughtfulness, brings her deep respect from singers in all areas of the profession, from Pop Stars to Chorus Masters. Dorothy Hopkins has entertained thousands of Kiwis and through her teaching and training continues to entertain generations of New Zealanders by way of her amazing pupils. Her career is wide, but she has made her strongest mark in teaching and supporting other Kiwis within the music field. She has long been revered in New Zealand for her abilities and character and as such this has given her a legendary place in musical circles.
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