EXTENDING TRADITIONAL PEDAGOGY...
As a teacher, I remain a perpetual student.
In addition to over a decade of classical music education (Suzuki and thereafter Classical violin and guitar traditions), I am also a graduate of the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia (Bachelor of Arts in Communications in Media Arts) where I was recently nominated for a 2017 Alumni Award, recognizing “outstanding achievement by alumni from each UTS faculty”. I spent the better part of the late 90s cutting my teeth in the emerging 'dot-com' universe, operating as a digital designer, video editor and post-production jockey (Media 100, After Effects, Macromedia Flash) whilst creating music and working as a radio radio producer for Sydney stations 2SER and FBi Radio concurrently. This, of course, was before Berlin called me...
As both performer and sound-designer, I've been fascinated by the frequent disconnect between 'traditional' music education, and emerging audio visual paradigms - as educators are challenged to provide relevant tools to help inspire new students. Which metaphors remains of enduring musical value in this quest? What traditional literacies are becoming less relevant? What audiological notions help us best explore tonality, form, and embedded sonic meaning in a digital context?
What NEW paradigms might be helpful to develop in order help educate those who have moved far from the visual paradigm of a 12-tone staff, growing up using timelines, layers, and 16-square grids? What of the students who are inevitable casualties in the DAW upgrade cycle - who can't practically afford extravagant new tools?
How can we move beyond the traditional polarities dividing 'audio' from 'music', to re-imagine sound in a more comprehensive sense, as a holistic language? Oh, and remember when making music was fun, just because....
I continue to teach and lecture in both sound-design process, philosophy and technical competencies, and remain passionate about exploring critically engaged and sophisticated approaches to creating work with my students.
As a lecturer, I have been engaged by institutions as varied as Sydney University, The University of Technology, SAE College, Ableton Liveschool, Sydney Institute of TAFE, Heaps Decent, Hack Sounds, and the Australian Institute of Music – as a weekly lecturer, disability-support teacher (for students with physical & neurological disabilities) and 1:1 elective mentor for advanced students, as part of the Electronic Music Diploma.
I teach production almost entirely within the Ableton Live environment, with a background firmly ensconced in hardware production.
I am convinced that Western music pedagogy preferences a great number of (questionable) assumptions regarding what constitutes legitimate ‘music’, and I feel compelled to examine and ‘unpick’ these in my teaching work and critical discourse. I seek, additionally to foster a rigorous, truly ‘practice-based’ approach to audio work with my students – exploring notions of minimalism, improvisation, non-western form and active-listening to help empower informed and confident work.
Ultimately, I'm fascinated by what I'd call 'the Silence around the silence'.
Fundamentally, I believe that arts-practice best serves us when it mandates equity, critical thinking, self-inquiry, informed risk and playfulness above commercial imperative.
By concurrently exploring the history and political economy of contemporary music, notions of hypnagogia, collective amnesia and nostaligia, the physical, imagined and liminal spaces in which audio is experienced, neoliberal tropes in pop culture, and referencing critical writings and inter-disciplinary discourse, I attempt to develop teaching exercises and practical tools which prove accessible and relevant beyond the ubiquitous ‘technical’ resources available online.
I am of the opinion that effective musical mentorship should aspire to a muscular synergy between technical skills with personal enquiry, in order to formulate genuine thesis - preferencing creative 'play time' with concurrent historical case-studies.
From developing material for the national teaching curriculum to running Ableton Live short-courses, teaching continues to deeply inform my own practice, and I'm continually humbled and inspired by student insights...
I am indebted and inspired by the work of the following, who continue to inform my work both as a teacher and student of music, alike:
Goldsmiths University (London), Mark Fisher (The Wire), Kodwo Eshun, Brian Eno, David Toop, John Akomfrah, Lewis Hyde, Mathew Herbert, Seb Chan (ACMI, Australia), Sun Ra, Robert Henke, John Cage, The Caretaker, Philip Glass, Bill Drummond, Adam Curtis, Kate Crawford (NYU), Douglas Coupland, Delia Derbyshire, Dennis DeSantis, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Burial, Warp Records, Stefan Goldmann, Alan Lomax, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Terry Gilliam, Undergound Resistance, Drexiya, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Jean Baudrillard, Matthew Barney, Samuel Beckett, Philip Sherburne, Marcel Duchamp, Marc Leclair, Max Richter, Erased Tapes, Autechre, Noah Pred (BIIM), Luke Warren (AIM), Damien Goundrie (Sydney Institute of TAFE), Radovan Klusacek (SAE, Sydney) … and so many more…