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.