littlecolourfulteacher

littlecolourfulteacher

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changing of the torch

January 27, 2019

I have recently come back from directing the Young Composer School at Gondwana Voices National Choral School, a role that I have relished as it combined the paradox of creativity with the responsibility of quality choral education.

Creatives who are choral composers are always asked to straddle the line between imaginative possibility and what choirs are able to do for them. Write a work that is too specialised, and only the very best choirs with well-developed technical ability can perform them. Write a work that is too juvenile and simple, and choirs will find it unsatisfying on both counts. Even more than for instrumental writing, choral composition requires the composer to write as both a creative and an educator. 

Write a piece that resonates with choristers of a certain age-bracket and ability, enhances their vocal development, and expands their performance confidence + sound, and you will have a sustainable and well-loved piece of repertoire which has the power to affect choristers long after the final performance of the piece.

And this is where I find complete joy; trying to find that sweet spot. I write like an educator, always looking for words that will stick, and what feels good on the voice, and how to create a choral framework whereby a developing choir will feel and sound good performing my pieces. I also seek to extend and develop quality vocal technique but in the “Mary-Poppins-spoon-full-of-sugar” kind of way, through embedding choral technique in a way that it is unnoticed until you have reaped the rewards of it through rehearsing and performing an engaging piece of music.

And this is what I have spent that last week mentoring and teaching to the young composers at Gondwana NCS.

I had an incredibly nostalgic realisation during the choral school; that when I was 25 years old, someone took a chance on me as a young composer. That someone was the artistic director of Sydney Children’s Choir, Lyn Williams, who saw something worth developing in my writing and in my love of choral education. Now, at age 37, I realise that my time for looking for mentors is being overlapped by actually doing the mentoring myself. Rather than cold-calling for mentorship, I am now cold-calling to mentor. When I see that spark of determination, uniqueness of voice, a love of the voice, dedication to developing as a composer, resiliency, and a talent that resonates with my own creative values, it is my job and privilege to offer to nurture that talent.

And so I did this. There were two stand-out composers in my small group of 7, and I wrote emails acknowledging the manner with which they embraced the composing school, their quality of work, and their ability to collaborate in a healthy and productive way whilst still maintaining their creative voice.

It’s now my responsibility to look for places where I can shine the torch on the brilliant and innovative young talent coming through. And what an honour to look at things so differently, whilst still having the chance to work as a creative myself.

It feels enlightening to be holding the torch and illuminating the journey from the other side!

a real-life saxophone!

April 3, 2016

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Sir Year 12 Trombone Player performed one of his Solo Performance pieces in the Easter service today.

Teeny-tiny Little Miss Kurrajong kidlet was overwhelmed…”Thank you so much! I’m SOOOOOOOOO excited! I can’t believe it! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to hear a real-life SAXOPHONE!”

Sir Year 12 Trombone Player grinned and said, “You’re welcome!”, knelt down, and gave her a high-five.