I was born and raised in the Riverina with the majority of my years spent in and around Griffith, New South Wales. It was a beautiful place to grow and change, affording me a great deal of freedom and exploration. Music was not prominent however; I had very supportive parents and there was a town youth band that provided the opportunity to learn the clarinet. This lead to other opportunities such as music camps and the chance to play in regional school ensembles.
After completing my Bachelor of Music in Composition with Larry Sitsky at the Australian National University, I ventured back into the country to provide music opportunities for young students in remote communities. It was 9 years later that I completed a post-graduate teaching qualification and commenced classroom music teaching, alongside wind band instruction. In those 9 years I taught clarinet, saxophone and keyboard to a wide range of students from varying backgrounds. I also directed a variety of music ensembles and composed 'custom-made' music due to the diversification in instrumentation and ability.
It was this experience that shaped my 'student-first' approach and allowed me to experiment with alternate orchestration techniques. When I studied Education through New England University I was tremendously inspired by Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory and the Orff-Schulwerk approach. Since then I have further developed the compositional skills I acquired at the 'coal-face' and combined them with learned educational practice to create innovative works for symphonic wind bands at all levels.
About my music
It was during educational studies that the question was posed 'As a teacher, what do you want to achieve?' For some time I did not know the answer, but after a while it became apparent. Upon reflection I realised that I was sincerely concerned about my students, about their welfare, about their personal growth and the pathways they chose. So I decided that as a teacher, my ultimate goal was to foster self-esteem and love of self through music.
Now that I am a full-time composer, I achieve this in my music by offering students the opportunity to make decisions and be creative with the material. This experience enables the players to take ownership of the piece they are learning to play. This simple idea is incredibly under-utilised in educational wind band literature yet it offers students and the Conductor an opportunity to grow and change in ways they had perhaps not thought possible, at any stage of learning.
Unless otherwise stated, all photography, including portraits was done by the very talented Annie Rose Armour. Click on the title above to find her on Facebook, click on the photo to the right to see her webpage 'Keep the Channel Open'. She is a sensitive photographer with a unique view through the lense and understands musicians and artists alike.
Thank you Annie for allowing me to share your beautiful photographs.