When asking if I am really an Australian composer, and if it mattered all that much anyway, I was asking for trouble. Especially in the week preceding Australia Day. Comments posted to my Facebook page convinced me that when I questioned the value of national identity I did so in a myopia of macro-thinking (thinking “do I represent this nation?”), and was forgetting all about the micro-realities about identity (“do I live in my community?”). Of course it matters if I am Australian to the children from Australia who play my music: me being from where they are from tells them that composers live in their community, which is a double shock to some people (the fact that composers are alive at all, and that they live down the road). It matters to the Kiwi kids who find out I grew up half an hour away from where they live, or I went to school at their high school. Knowing
It has often struck me that describing myself as an Australian composer is not an overly enlightening statement. Sure, I
It used to be my wont around this time of the year to think of my musical misdeeds and resolve to engage in behaviours that would counter my deficiencies of the previous twelve months over the subsequent 365 days. I would resolve to practice longer. Mastering more repertoire. In a more focussed fashion. I would resolve to put musical pen to manuscript paper for a set period of time per day. I would resolve to listen to more music; to become more than a passing acquaintance with the orchestral canon, the operatic oeuvre, the chamber music catalogue; to attend more live performances. I would resolve to work my way through recordings of famous jazz pianists, jazz trios, jazz quartets and quintets and big band ensembles. Learn to play the hundreds of standards I still didn’t know. I would resolve to get to grips with world music just a little [more than before]; to learn how to compose for hurdy-gurdy, how
This blog has been a bit of an experiment so far – an experiment in how-to-blog, as far as I am concerned, and I’ve realised that I probably haven’t included a whole lot of useful factual information about myself so far….. So to rectify a little: I’ve been composing educational piano music since 1995 when an adult student (probably no older than 22 at the time) said to me “But what I really want to do is to play the way you do when you are playing your own music”. This set me back quite a bit, as I had never given any thought to teaching my students to play the way I did when I wasn’t performing ‘repertoire’. My teaching was somewhat traditional in terms of content, style, outcomes and expectations. But my performing life was anything but traditional, and many parents had sent their children to me to have lessons after they had seen me performing. My adult student
Previously: A childhood in New Zealand, desperate to start piano lessons so I could compose more easily, not enough books in the school library but plenty of sexism to confront and theology to deconstruct. Growing up on a farm, growing up in a city, sick through enough of my childhood that I didn’t quite expect to grow up. Composing came easily, but what to choose to say to the world, and who to decide to be? Sometimes charting a perilous course between incompatible identities, irreconcilable expectations. Choosing to change the culture. The culture I’m changing in 2009 is the culture of piano teaching (see “P Plate Piano”, “Getting to” and other topics in weeks to come), but this very niche educational market is only one terrain I hope to help change (for the better).