My musical education began with the piano when I was about 6 or 7. I had a few different teachers for a number of years, but it wasn’t until I started with a teacher called Mrs Adamek, that I really began to love music. She had a commanding presence, and I still remember knocking on her door for my lesson feeling very nervous! Her musical knowledge was vast and she had a way of putting a piece into context that made it meaningful. She was exacting and passionate, and bit by bit, I started to practice differently. It was then much more fun to go to lesson better prepared and be able to dig deeply into the pieces. After my high school years, I started studying at the Conservatorium. I had access to the music library there and many different books and concepts on the philosophy and aesthetics of music. It was paradise.
After University, I decided to work so that I could take singing lessons and possibly travel. I was back at the beginning all over again. Although I was still working with sound, the approach to understanding the unique instrument of the voice was a universe apart. With the piano, I could listen to the sounds coming out of the instrument. With the voice, I had to learn how to feel for the sound and listen in an entirely different way. There were many challenges!
During my travels, I took language classes, and studied with teachers from Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, and London. Within these diverse cultural contexts, I was aware for the first time, of the way in which music reflected its surrounding landscape. The composers came alive, and learning repertoire amongst the texture of its origin, added another dimension to what I’d been studying and took on a new meaning. It was a pivotal part of my education, and something I couldn’t have understood inside the University library, with my head in a book, as exhilarating as that was.
After a number of years overseas, I returned to Australia, and wanted to continue studying the voice. I was very fortunate to be able to work with Anna Connolly. Her understanding of the voice encompassed the body, mind and spirit, and although she had extensive scientific knowledge, Anna recognised the vulnerability and unique challenge that a singer has as a living instrument. She was compassionate and humble, and every lesson was fresh, as if we were on an exploration. That gave me room to become more aware of the process, and I started to notice that the slower and quieter I was the easier it became to subtly shift the way I was standing, the shape of the vowel, the rhythm of my breath and so on. Life was reflected in the sound, and I was astonished how one balanced the other.
In all these years being with music, I have returned again and again to the beginning. I’m learning all the time, starting anew; and there is so much yet to discover. Perhaps it is like being a patient gardener; planting, pruning, watering, feeding – and not knowing precisely what will sprout from the soil. Welcome to the studio and I wish you all the very best with your digging…