Southern Area Wind Band – Conductor Position

The Southern Area Wind Band (formerly the Southern Area Training Band) operates under the umbrella of the Southern Area Concert Band Inc (SACB). The SAWB aims to provide an environment in which inexperienced and new musicians of all ages can develop their skills to a level at which entry into the SACB is possible. The SAWB Conductor will provide a positive musical experience for all members of the band in a supportive climate of trust and harmony while striving for the highest achievable practices in rehearsal, performance and music education.

The SAWB Conductor will support the Wind Band’s development of skills in both the theory and performance of music.

The role of SAWB Conductor is overseen by the SACB Music Director (MD) and SACB committee. Day to day operation of the Wind Band is the responsibility of the SAWB Conductor and SAWB Manager.

The following attributes are required:

· Demonstrated ability in the role of Conductor.
· Demonstrated ability as a music educator with the ability to work well with players of varied ability and experience and to help develop and maintain a strong sense of morale within the Band.
· Commitment to the development of the SAWB to its highest musical potential as an inclusive community band.
· A well-developed arranging and/or orchestration capability will be highly regarded.

The SAWB rehearses on Thursday evenings from 5.30pm-7.00pm at the NG Wishart Senior Citizens’ Hall, 964 Nepean Highway, Moorabbin. The SAWB is a competing D-Grade concert band and member of the Victorian Bands’ League. The SAWB participates in local VBL and community events, stages its own annual concert in August and presents an annual Christmas concert. Rehearsing music in a relaxed and nurturing environment is a priority for SAWB, ensuring an enjoyable experience of playing in a community ensemble. The SAWB Conductor receives an annual honorarium.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the SACB at to obtain a detailed role description and further information about our organisation and the application process. Applicants should submit a written Expression of Interest to the Secretary by Monday 22nd November 2021.

Reflections on ANBOC 2021

Bronwyn Oswell

Thank you very much ABODA Victoria for the chance to be part of what was a very stimulating and motivating few days of Professional Development.

As a string teacher and ensemble director I thoroughly enjoyed attending all the diverse workshops provided by the range of presenters and masters in their various fields of expertise.

I always enjoy listening to Anita Collins speaking about music education and advocacy, Mark Laycock talking about rehearsal techniques, and Brian Balmages was a wonderful addition to the team of presenters.

It was also refreshing to have the Australian contingent (Ingrid Martin, Loreta Fin and Karen Kyriakou) who always deliver quality sessions of inspirational and hands on practical ideas for what we are doing on a daily basis.

If I come away from a conference with even one new trick in my bag I feel as though it has been a worthwhile investment of time, and through this conference (especially focussed around life after COVID) I feel as though I came away with much more.

It was a powerful and varied representation of so many important areas. Being amongst like-minded and purposeful mentors (even in the virtual sense) one gathers strength, motivation and hope for the future in the studio, the classroom, in the school ensemble and in the community.


Bronwyn Oswell

Melbourne Grammar School

Grimwade House


Bronwyn was one of the recipients of ABODA Victoria’s Professional Scholarships to attend ANBOC 2021

ANBOC 2021 Professional Scholarships Now Available


ANBOC 2021 Professional Scholarships

Now Available For Current Members

Get yourself in the running to win an
‘Extended Access’ ANBOC Ticket! 

The Australian National Band & Orchestra Conference (ANBOC), hosted by ABODA Western Australia is just around the corner, September 23-26. This year the conference will be fully online, presented via the Hopin platform due to COVID travel restrictions. ANBOC will provide delegates with extensive professional development activities, outstanding performances and masterclasses, as well as a broad range of networking opportunities in 2021.

To celebrate the conference (we all need some good news right now)
ABODA Victoria is proudly sponsoring 10 Professional Scholarships for ‘Extended Access’ ANBOC tickets to current members (valued at $130).

To get yourself in the running for one of these tickets simply tell us how attending the online conference will benefit you and your community by filling out and submitting the google form found here.
Get your submission in by Monday, September 20. 

The extended access ticket allows participants to view the pre-recorded sessions for an extended time after the conference has finished. A full list of Australian and international presenters and conference sessions will be released very soon. Head over to for more information.

Citation of Excellence – Jemima Bunn

Citation of Excellence

Jemima Bunn

On the 4th of October 2019, ABODA National presented ABODA Victoria Past President Jemima Bunn with the National Citation of Excellence. Congratulations Jemima!!

The citation of excellence is the highest award available to members of ABODA. This award recognises outstanding personal achievement and represents peer recognition of the work of the recipient both in Australia and overseas, for both ABODA and the music community. It is a recognition of enormous output and investment that this ABODA member has given to instrumental music education in Australia.  It is with great pride that I announce that the 2018 recipient of the National Citation of Excellence is Jemima Bunn.


In her role as a performer, educator, conductor, researcher, ABODA committee member and more recently, publisher, Jemima has achieved excellence across all of these modes of activity and on all fronts, has made a significant contribution to Australian music education.


We first experienced Jemima’s passion for the wind band genre when as a clarinet player she successfully applied to join the first Australian National Youth Band for their tour to Japan in 1990.  From there Jemima undertook a Bachelor of Education, specializing in Music Education at Melbourne University.  Jemima’s first teaching post was at Camberwell High School, where as a beginning teacher she took a small, below average music program and built it to a level of excellence, culminating in a tour to the USA where the Camberwell Wind Ensemble served as a clinic ensemble at the prestigious Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, USA.


Following this achievement, Jemima received a teaching assistant scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she completed a Masters of Music Education.  Upon her return, she soon took the position as Director of Music at Glen Waverley Secondary College in Melbourne, and again raised an average music program to a level of excellence in a very short period of time.  She is now serving as the Director of Music at Blackburn High School, arguably Victoria’s flagship music program, continuing the legacy of excellence in music education, as evidenced by not only her own Symphonic Band performing at the 2017 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, but also the Blackburn High School Stage Band also performing in the same conference.  This is a significant achievement for any school, and the first Australian school to have accomplished this honour.


Concurrently with her career as a highly successful music educator, Jemima also served on the ABODA committee, both at the state level and national level.  Throughout many years working with ABODA, she has held the post of Victorian State President and National President and was the driving force behind the committee that ran the highly successful 2014 ANBOC in Victoria.  Her selfless contribution to the design and implementation of countless ABODA activities has ensured that ABODA remains at the forefront of contributing to the betterment of music education in Australia.  It is immeasurable how many of Australia’s music educator’s have been positively impacted upon by the investment of time, energy and ingenuity that Jemima has brought to the ABODA community.


Aside from her teaching commitments, Jemima’s energies are now focused on her PhD research in Music Education, exploring the lived experience of music students and questioning our current music education structures, with a view to providing even more meaningful musical experiences for our students in the future, and as the owner of Brolga Music, expanding on arguably Australia’s most significant publisher of high quality educational music, ensuring a pathway for Australian composers to share their unique voice with Australia and the whole world.  Through her role as publisher, she has expanded the Brolga catalogue to include more genres and ensured that Brolga represents Australian excellence in music education on an international stage.


Two major attributes of a recipient of the Citation of Excellence are that:


  • They should have attained a National and an International profile for their service to music in Australia
  • They should serve as (an) outstanding role model for developing ensemble directors


There is no doubt that Jemima has established herself with respect to such criteria, both here and internationally. She is a fine musician, an excellent conductor and outstanding educator. To conclude, Jemima Bunn is a person of the highest integrity, and such integrity ensures she stands as a role model for her students, her colleagues and those she mentors in every facet of her work.



It is with great pleasure that ABODA National awards Jemima Bunn the 2018 Citation of Excellence.

Free movement, social justice and great performances: Reflections on ANBOC 2018

Rob Squires

Anboc.2018 was held in Brisbane between 4 – 7 October at the State Library of Queensland. There were over 70 professional development opportunities for string, band, jazz and orchestral conductors of school and community ensembles.  Delegates attended keynotes, lectures, ensemble workshops, panel discussions and interactive sessions with the themes of:

  • Teaching (on and off the podium)
  • Navigating the middle-years 
  • Wellness

As a community band conductor, I found the wellness and teaching on/off the podium sessions most valuable.

One of the most popular sessions was presented by Dr. John Lynch of the Sydney Conservatorium.  John guided participants through warm up and free movement exercises for conductors. For those that are not familiar, free movement is a concept where you put on some music, close your eyes and move to the feel of (but not conduct) the music. While you may feel and look a bit silly doing this, it is a lot of fun. The concept encourages us to move beyond beat patterns and become more expressive conductors.

Also popular was a keynote and breakout session by Dr. Anita Collins about music education and the brain. Statistically, students who play a musical instrument are likely to perform better academically compared to their peers who don’t. Anita advised that a documentary “Don’t stop the music” will air on the ABC in November and there will be a national education campaign to go with it.

Two evening concerts were held in the Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium Theatre at Southbank. The first of these, was the Opening Gala Concert jointly presented by the Queensland Conservatorium’s Symphony Orchestra and Wind Orchestra under the direction of Dr Peter Morris.

The program was anchored by the theme of social justice, and highlights included: Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Bernstein’s Slava! (with added one-liners from our pollies) and New Morning for the World featuring Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech; (of which the line “…not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” is still relevant today in 2018.)

The second and final evening concert was presented by Queensland Wind Orchestra (QWO) under the direction of David Law and Guest conductors Prof. Rob McWilliams and Rachel Howley. A highlight of this concert was Percussionist, Composer and Educator, Nathan Daughtrey performing as a soloist in his own composition Concerto for Vibraphone and Wind Ensemble.

Lunches, Morning and Afternoon Teas were certainly a highlight of ANBOC. The caterers did an exceptional job feeding the masses each day. Over food and drink Delegates networked and visited the various trade stalls (without which ANBOC could not occur).  It was good to see the regular trade stalls at ANBOC such as those from Tim Ferrier and Brolga Music. At the latter, was our very own Jemima Bunn who was awarded a National Citation of Excellence from ABODA. (Well done Jemima!)  

ANBOC was a great opportunity to catch up with former summer conducting school clinicians Peter Morris, John Lynch and Rob McWilliams, each of whom presented topics they were passionate about. (some of these were a timely refresher on previous concepts from summer conducting schools).

Those who also attended ANBOC in Brisbane, I encourage you to share your experience with colleagues, in the hope they consider attending the next ANBOC.

Finally, I would like to thank ABODA VIC for giving me the opportunity to attend this year’s ANBOC and congratulate ABODAQ on the success of the conference.

Rob Squires
Mansfield and District (MAD) Orchestra, Mansfield

Rob was awarded one of two scholarships provided by ABODA Victoria for members to attend ANBOC 2018.

Inspiration and rejuvenation at ANBOC 2018

Bronwyn Oswell

It is always exciting to be surrounded by experts who are fully impassioned and engaged in doing what they do best…. sharing years of their own experience and knowledge, hard earned from hours spent in front of young musicians both on and off the podium. The ANBOC Conference held in Brisbane from October 4 – 7, 2018 was overflowing with seasoned music professionals; conductors, university professors, composers, directors, researchers and teachers from all walks of life and all corners of our planet, all with expertise and wisdom adding up to beyond what one might ever hope to find in one location over four days.

Held alongside the SHEP Orchestra and Band program (ensembles whose performances and rehearsals we were able to experience during the conference days), the ANBOC Conference presenters covered topics across three broad themes: “Teaching” (On and Off the Podium), “Navigating the Middle Years” and “Wellness”.

Over the course of four days, there were choices of over thirty sessions to attend (each of an hour’s length) each day running throughout four different venues within the State Library of Queensland with over fifty music specialists who were often presenting “between” rehearsals with the State Honours Ensembles.

Not even once during the four days of the conference was there a question of whether to attend each session that was being offered, but rather making the difficult decision of which of the sessions to attend given that the options were so varied, interesting and relevant to our current musical climate.

For myself (predominantly as a string player and educator) I found the smorgasbord of string offerings to be stimulating, useful and motivating. I was profoundly touched and inspired in particular, by the musical and humanitarian generosity of Richard Meyer in his “Giving Bach” session.  He demonstrated his experience in the context of giving back to his community through involving his students in reaching out to others less fortunate than themselves in their performances to blind students, youth of less privileged socio-economic background, and Down Syndrome children.

Richard is a man of enormous humanity and has empowered both his audiences and students alike with the incredible work he has done in his program. Just being able to see him in action and to watch footage of his work was life-changing.

Reflecting on “Programming in the 21st Century”, Cynthia Johnston Turner encouraged us to think outside the box about our audience and the perception of performance in future. Another personal highlight for me was Paula A. Crider’s presentation of her approach to Three Levels of Performance: Technical, Intellectual and Emotional in her session “Beyond the Notes”. 

Dr Anita Collins, the sensational Australian neuromusical educator and music education advocate presented two thought provoking and motivational sessions: “Fireworks and the Musical Brain” and “Music Education and Brain Development” which left us in no uncertain terms convinced of the value of music educating beyond what we already knew. Further information can be found at

No matter how much professional development one is privileged to have, it is always immeasurably valuable to have the opportunity to be able to catch up with ex-students, colleagues from previous employment, knowledgeable experts, amazing conductors and directors and see trade displays with the latest resources. Most importantly it’s vital to be engaged with like minded musicians and educators for a period of intense absorption of knowledge, inspiration, motivation and sometimes just pure affirmation that your program, your philosophy, your box of educational tricks or your ensemble is firing on all cylinders.

I am most grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this very well designed and organised event.

Bronwyn Oswell won one of two ABODA Victoria Scholarships to attend ANBOC 2018 in Brisbane. She is a busy string educator and pedagogue working in metropolitan Melbourne. 

Creating Accountability – An Interview with Conductor Carolyn Watson

by James LeFevre

With her outstanding manner with players, high expectations, ability to deliver concepts concisely and insatiable passion for the music, it is little wonder that conductor Carolyn Watson is making waves in the American system, winning the 2015 American Prize for Conducting. In 2019 Carolyn will lead the ABODA Vic Summer Conducting School. We sat down to chat about her career, and advice on conducting training, repertoire selection and conducting bands vs. strings.

Looking back through your career a little you started out as a violinist and worked with the Australian Youth Orchestra, what happened after this?

I did music education for my undergraduate, with a double major in Music Education and Violin Performance in Sydney. I played for a year professionally in the pit for Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon in Sydney before I moved overseas. Then I was in Hungary for two years at the Kodaly Institute before I went to Germany and completed more violin study and played with some orchestras there.

What was your first teaching position?

I taught for a term at Sydney Church of Grammar School where I have just done the Vivaldi Gloria and then at Sydney Grammar School for nine years after this.

When did you start studying conducting?

About five years into the job working at Sydney Grammar.  I wanted to learn a little bit more about conducting and what to do with my hands.  I thought I would just do a Masters in Conducting with no intention of doing anything other than that, and then one thing led to another and here we are.

I’m always interested to know what you feel are the most important things for a beginning conductor to start with.

Anybody can be a conductor if they are a good musician, it is easy to turn a good musician into a good conductor, but it is difficult to turn a conductor into a musician.  The depth and scope of your musical training and knowledge is really where it is at, and the rest you can learn. Maybe also conducting technique doesn’t matter as much as we think it matters… that has been my experience, anyway.

As an experienced conductor, what do you see the differences being between high school orchestras and somewhere like Interlochen or what you are expecting at Texas State?

Obviously the context dictates how far you as a conductor can go. You may have the most wonderful gestures that reflect every nuance in the score, however, if you are in front of a Year 7 band, that may not be necessarily the most important thing.  That aspect of being practical, and being able to help the players with practical matters and logistical things, what I call ‘geographical things’ like “This is where we stop.” “This is where we go.”  “This is where you need to watch, this is what you need to watch, and this is why you need to watch.”  Obviously the more advanced the players are the more subtleties they are going to pick up on in your conducting.

It is the age old concept of being what the players need us to be.

That’s right.

There is often debate about Strings versus Band conducting and some say that music is music but perhaps there are nuances between the two. How they produce sound is different if nothing else. Do you have thoughts on this and are there differences? Perhaps there are differences within the sections of an orchestra? 

There are some differences. Working with young orchestras, I find I have to work much more closely with the strings and offer more many more directions and much more advice than with the wind and the brass generally.  I think there are a number of reasons for that, obviously the person that gets to be first chair oboe or second chair clarinet in a youth orchestra or even in a high school symphony, they have reached a certain level and are by definition a soloist, given that nobody else is playing the first oboe part or the second clarinet part. That’s a very different thing for a second violin section that might have 15 people in it. And each one of those 15 who would die on the spot if they thought that they had to play their part by themselves! There’s that sort of thinking shift – there is a big difference there. I’ve found also I have to give a lot more information and directives to the strings because I think to get young musicians on string instruments to sound good, there is a lot more involved, and it’s a longer process comparatively than with wind and brass instruments. I think we as conductors certainly working with high schools have to remember this and factor it into our approach and our pedagogy.

As far as conducting and ensemble direction goes, would you mind please sharing some of your most valuable pieces of wisdom?

Choose appropriate repertoire. That is probably my first one. I have done a lot of listening to young musicians and adjudicating at competitions with young bands and orchestras. I often hear young musicians working and playing very hard, and doing their best with music that is beyond them at this particular point in time, at this particular stage of their development. I think it is a wonderful thing to set the bar high and to push them, and to challenge them to be the best they can be, and even better.  But also at the same time this kind of approach has to be balanced with positive performance experiences and it’s about them going out onto stage with absolute confidence, that they can play together very, very well as an ensemble, and walk off feeling very proud that they have done a good job.

I’ve heard the 80/20 “rule” referred to before where 80% of the repertoire should be technically comfortable and 20% might be challenging. What are your thoughts on this?

I probably have a different philosophy to that because I tend to set the bar high and just a little bit beyond what the students think they are capable of.  When you say to them we are playing this piece and they go “oh no!”. Then you say “no I programmed it because I think you are good enough”. Straight away if it’s a piece they know and a composer they know or something that they have been dying to play, that gives them a lot of confidence. So you are instilling a lot of trust in their ability and as all of us that play an instrument know, when somebody believes in us you can achieve more that what you think is actually possible.

I guess that is also about making the musician accountable for their part and setting them up to understand that they are the ones in charge of the results. 

Absolutely, and it’s a team, it’s exactly the same as a sporting team and with someone sitting 5th chair, inside 2nd desk, 3rd viola part, they might not feel like they are fundamental to the ensemble, but I think it is our job as directors to get the point across that they are fundamental to the ensemble. Nobody else is playing that particular part and if they don’t play it then nobody else is going to play it. Like sport, for them to do well and do their best, everybody has got to go to training and just because you might not be picked to play that week, that doesn’t mean that you don’t go to training… it actually means that you train harder.

In your experience as an adjudicator, other than poor repertoire choices, what are some of common mistakes you see and hear?

For ensembles, stage presence is something. You can often tell how well trained a group is simply by the way they enter and exit the stage and the means by which they go about getting themselves ready to play. There is a level of professionalism that comes with performing, and performing happens from the minute you walk onto the stage.  How you look, how you walk out on stage, uniform, dress attire, a school uniform, a performance uniform, coordinated clothing, deliberately unco-ordinated clothing, it is all part of the performance experience.

From a conducting standpoint, having a conductor that is in touch with what the ensemble is doing is an important factor. Often I look and observe that the ensemble is doing one thing and the conductor is doing another, and they’re not necessarily corresponding.

The place of conducting literature – are there any conducting texts you found particularly beneficial?

At one stage I read every text that was out there, as I was writing my doctoral dissertation. But I think conducting is not something that can necessarily be taught by books. This opinion might be a difference between a kind of ‘American band-type approach’ and a more traditional operatic and orchestral focus, which is the realm in which my work lies. Of course textbooks are helpful for the basic information, but once you’ve got that there is a whole lot more. In terms of books or texts, the composer’s score is really where it is at.

It is like choosing a favourite child, but who are your favourite composers?

Whoever I am conducting, so at the moment it’s Bartok, Liszt and Kodaly.

You mentioned that nothing is a substitute for the score and a mentor.  Who have been your musical heroes?

My number one music hero is Carlos Kleiber, every conductor’s musical hero I think! And Bernstein ranks up there very highly as well.

If you could look across the world and see everything that is going on musically, and could pick your gig, what would you jump at?

Oh wow! I’m not sure that I’ve got the answer to that question actually. Most conductors would say the Berlin Philharmonic or the Vienna Philharmonic, but I am fairly adamant that’s not a job that I would embrace with open arms as it were. Often life chooses and has a way of putting people where they should be and you know yourself where you are at, and where you can be. With conducting it can be a big game of chance, and some people are fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and get opportunities and make the most of them, and their career goes from there. It is difficult to know if somebody else got a similar opportunity, whether that might have happened to them and whether their career would have developed similarly.  As to my ideal gig, I guess I have to say it is the one I am about to start.  I chose it didn’t I….!

As music educators, music advocacy is important and there are a few different approaches to this. What do you lead with when telling people about the joy that is music?

I don’t know that I have had to do too much of that in itself as I have been very fortunate in the places that I have worked as students have come to those places specifically for music and for orchestra. There are tests that say “yes if they do music that will do better in maths and science” which is all very well and good, but I don’t know if that is why we should be selling music.  I don’t think scientists are selling science as it makes better mathematicians. The media seems have a lot of stuff written about that, that’s a great thing.  However, music is of intrinsic value as of itself and that’s really what we’re about and hopefully that message can get out.

Growing up was there a piece that sparked your love of music or took your love to the next level?

“Go tell Aunt Rhody” from Suzuki Book 1.

To find out more about Carolyn and the wonderful work she is doing visit:

Want to work with Carolyn to improve your conducting? Register for the 2019 ABODA Vic Summer Conducing School now!

Register for the 2019 Summer School

From Kooweerup to London – ABODA Life Member Claudia Barker’s remarkable career

Music Educator Claudia Barker was recently awarded Life Membership to ABODA Victoria. Here, she shares her journey as a passionate music educator in rural Victoria. 

It was such a delight to be amongst the ABODA family of music educators at the 2017 AGM. The Life Membership was a highlight in a career that has spanned over 50 years.

Humble beginnings

My passion for music stems from my family’s wartime experiences. In the 1930s my Italian father was living the idyllic life in Singapore, a small luxurious island that everyone thought was far enough away from the troubles in Europe. It was unthinkable that Singapore could ever be at war. In 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and England declared war on Germany.

Overnight my father went from living the society high life to becoming an enemy alien. In September1940 he married my mother, a British subject of Portuguese descent. She immediately lost her British citizenship and along with a large number of Italians, Germans and Austrians was transported to Australia on the giant liner, the “Queen Mary”. In Victoria the internment camp established at Tatura became the home for 12,000 friendly “enemy aliens” who were deemed a security risk even though they had no adverse political records

In Tatura the inmates realized the importance of organization and keeping everyone busy. They appointed their own leaders. They ensured that the children received an all round education and the adults were kept usefully engaged. Amongst the internees were some of the cream of Europe’s artistic society. Despite the primitive living conditions, the lack of freedom and the barbed wire they managed to establish a cultural and intellectual atmosphere which would have been hard to match elsewhere in Australia at the time.

Many of the inmates produced lasting masterpieces and went on to make a significant contribution to Australia after the war: Karl Duldig, the Austrian sculptor, Felix Werder the German born composer who had made the horrific journey to Australia on the Dunera  and the musical director of the Vienna Boys Choir, Dr Georg Gruber. My father played violin.

At the end of the war my father decided to remain in Australia. He took us to a small fishing village and so began our childhood growing up in Mornington – growing up in paradise. My father insisted that I and my siblings receive a musical education. I attended Padua College in Tanti Avenue – a college by the sea. It has now been converted to apartments and people pay millions of dollars for the view that we took every day for granted.

In the 50s in Mornington, very few young people learned a musical instrument and we often resented the time devoted to practising but our father gave us no option. I studied piano with the nuns and my sister learned the violin from Leila Steedman who had been the conductor of the Mornington Peninsula Orchestra. Dorcas McLean, a celebrated violinist was the wife of the local doctor, Andrew Taylor. Often in his waiting room in Barkley Street we kids would hear her practising.

I was appointed to Kooweerup Secondary College in 1965 and for years was the only music teacher there. We now have a staff of 7 music teachers in the Claudia Barker Performing Arts Centre.

Our marching band has attended the Melbourne ANZAC march since 1999. One year by chance we led the 39th Battalion which had defended Australia at Kokoda. The diggers reckoned they had never marched so well and decided that if they hailed us as their very own they would always have a band to march to on ANZAC day. Ever since we are known as the Band that leads the 39th Battalion and we always do – even in pouring rain.

The band from rural Victoria goes to Westminster Abbey

Of interest could be how the Kooweerup Secondary College Band came to give a performance  at Westminster Abbey:

In 2012 our Assistant Principal, Peter Bottomley had received an email from Peter Bottomley, British Member of Parliament for Worthing West, UK.  B2 (apologies to Bananas in Pajamas) had been contacting all the Peter Bottomleys in the world and had seen B1’s name in a newspaper article on the internet. B2 wrote a cordial email to B1 inviting him to the “House” if he were ever in London.

Back in the band room I was facing problems. The band trip to London that I had organized had fallen through when the Travel Agency cancelled.  Rather than disappoint my students I decided to plan my own tour. I could organize concerts in Paris and the Western Front but London was proving difficult as the tour would coincide with school holidays there. In desperation I reminded B1 of his London namesake and asked if he could contact B2.

B2, who had received a knighthood in the meantime, replied immediately. The Band’s credentials were scrutinized and within days  emails arrived from Sir B2 and the Dean of Westminster Abbey granting approval for a lunch-time concert.

Now I needed something special to add to my repertoire. In France we would be going to Fromelles where the 1916 battle was the biggest military disaster of all time for Australia. Melbourne composer Barry McKimm accepted a commission to compose a piece of music that would capture the reality of what happened. His “South from Fromelles” was confronting and powerful. In Westminster Abbey when we finished playing many of the audience were weeping. To top it all off at the conclusion of the concert Sir B2 invited our entire contingent of 42 for a light luncheon at his beautiful London Apartment.

Then to the Western Front! They stopped the traffic as we marched down the main street of Fromelles to the Pheasant Wood Cemetery. There, on behalf of the Australian families who have suffered generations of grief, we spent a silent moment.  Our students, not much different in age from those who died, knelt in the drizzling rain and wiped the mud from the gravestones. And then we played Waltzing Matilda and the Last Post for all our soldiers who will lie there forever.

Now in the autumn of my teaching career I can reflect on the strongest of friendships and the countless concerts. There have been 50 Music Festivals and 38 Musicals but best of all is the high calibre of the young music graduates who come to teach at Kooweerup. They are ensuring that our students are instilled with a passion for music that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.


10 Conductors share what they learned from the ABODA Summer Conducting School…

We asked participants from our 2017 ABODA Summer Conducting School shared their thoughts about how the school improved their conducting practice during the year that followed.

What was an unexpected benefit of coming to the summer school?

“I always knew that my conducting technique would benefit, but something that was a
pleasant surprise was how much I learn about rehearsal technique. I found that I learnt a huge amount from not only the tutors, but also my fellow participants on rehearsal strategies, possible troubles and solutions and great ideas of how to implement expectations and good musicianship from the very first rehearsal. “

Jessica Berton, woodwind multi-instrumentalist and freelance conductor

What was the most valuable thing you learnt at the summer school? 

“The impact that a conductor has on an ensemble is amazing. Working with all the different ways you can conduct one piece – even just 8 bars – was great to see.”

Leon Duncan, St Columba’s College Essendon

“Apart from advancing my stick skills, I learnt how to communicate more meaningfully with my body. Over the year I’ve been able to trial and hone these skills, replacing or adapting them to my existing technique…The most valuable idea for me was to consider economy of movement and the skill of being physically ‘quiet’ when necessary.”

Diane Gardiner, conductor, Gosford Selective HS (NSW), Avoca Beach PS (NSW), Central Coast
Concert Band and Central Coast Youth Orchestra

“For me personally, the most valuable thing I learnt from the summer school was to follow my passion and to ‘act yourself into a new way of thinking’. Although I am very early in my conducting journey, everyone I worked with was so helpful in answering all my questions and boosting my confidence both on and off the podium. All the mentors were extremely supportive and really cared about helping improve everyone’s conducting/music directing.”

Nicole Marshall, music director, novice wind band of the Southern Area Concert Band (City of
Kingston) and associate director to their concert band

“I think the most valuable thing I learnt was to breathe with the ensemble as if you were going to play that entry, phrase etc. I believe it has changed the sound of my ensembles in an amazingly
positive way. I’m even finding that ensembles I am guest conducting sound better, which I didn’t think was possible!”

Fiona Lucas, Chatswood Public School

What was an unexpected benefit of coming to the summer school?

“Viewing recordings of myself conducting was incredibly valuable. I don’t think I would have been able to comprehend and adjust to the feedback from my peers without seeing for myself. The thought of doing this was originally terrifying to me, but now I see it as a necessity to anyone
wanting to improve their conducting and rehearsal technique- I highly recommend it.”

Vanessa George, instrumental music teacher and ensemble director, Eltham High School and
Xavier College, Burke Hall

“…it was very enjoyable to see how all of the participants improved over the week. No matter what the level of experience, every single person came away better than they were at the start, and I thought that was great.”

Captain Rachel Beeton, Australian Army Band

“…the community I met at ABODA were so supportive, inclusive and encouraging, the people I met there were unlike any other classical music group I’ve ever encountered before.
 Their guidance and teaching was wonderful and I am very thankful to have been given the
opportunity to attend such a great summer school.”

Victoria Landy, Kilbreda Girls’ College and Mentone Grammar School

What is the one reason you would most recommend the summer school to a colleague?

“Inspiration.  So often we labour alone in our little cells, losing sight of the joy of what we do.  I have been to a number of schools and in every case the clinician and my fellow course members were inspiring people. The video you receive of your own performance is well worth [the] study – even if it feels embarrassing at first.”

Lance Cowled, training band conductor, Clarence City Band, Hobart

“I would encourage all my ensemble director colleagues to sign up for the next ABODA Summer Conducting School for one simple reason – unequivocally demonstrate to your ensemble members that we exist in a state of continual improvement in our craft. Just like we expect them to practice their parts, technique and musicality, so too can we improve these aspects in our conducting to ensure we are delivering a rewarding, exciting, and, most importantly, an essential musical experience for our ensemble members.”

Jarrod Butler, Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School

Want to take your conducting to the next level and meet like-minded fellow conductors? Register now for the 2019 ABODA Summer Conducting School. Read more…

2019 Summer School Registration