Category: Performing Arts
Specialisation: French Horn
I know that continuing to build a sustainable portfolio career in music will require me to further develop all aspects of my work as a musician. I not only want to continue to grow as a performer, but also as a teacher and researcher. I applied to undertake a series of courses. Masterclasses and lessons in Germany and England that would not only focus on horn playing but also vocal pedagogy and the Accent method. This interest follows on from my Honours research project which looked at the application of vocal pedagogy to my horn practice. I found this research to be very promising and was invited to present my findings at the QCGU Breathing Symposium. Exploring vocal training was transformative for my playing and after struggling with my own breathing for so long, it was great to see how the techniques and exercises I was taught by my vocal teacher also helped my students’ playing when I introduced them into my teaching. I am very inspired to continue researching in this field however, it became clear to me during my Honours that I still have a lot more to learn before I can expand on this topic and begin formal research.
I would like to attend two, week-long courses in Germany with Sibylle Mahni. Sibylle is a leading horn professor in Germany who I have previously had a lesson from. I learnt so much from her in this hour and believe my playing could advance considerably if I learnt from her over an extended time. During this time in Europe I would also travel around Germany and the Netherlands to get lessons from other leading horn players and teachers (including Katy Woolley, Principal Horn Concertgebouw Orchestra and Johannes Hinterholzer, Professor at Hochschule für Musik und Theater München) who explain their approaches to playing as similar to ‘singing through the horn’.
Learning from these teachers would not only allow me to further unpack a vocal approach to horn playing but also provide focused instruction to improve my horn technique and artistry. I will come away with a wealth of knowledge that I can continue to draw upon in my daily practice as I continue to work towards becoming the best horn player I can be. Mastering my own playing is not only key to increasing my employment as a performer but is necessary to understand the interplay of horn and vocal technique and to develop informed and effective pedagogy for my students.
Secondly, the proposed courses in England would allow me to engage with world-class vocal teachers including Janice Chapman. Janice Chapman is arguably the world expert on scientifically informed vocal pedagogy and her book and teaching underpins the concepts used by my vocal teachers who I believe have had a significant positive effect on my horn playing.
The opportunity this scholarship would give me to engage with the teaching of Janice Chapman and other like-minded vocal coaches in England through the courses provided by Classical Voice Training would be incredibly valuable to my career in all aspects. These courses are highly esteemed with people travelling from all around the world to participate in them, something that I didn’t think would be possible for me until I heard about this scholarship.
I believe this interdisciplinary approach to horn pedagogy, although building upon hundreds of years of connection between voice and brass playing, is innovative as it connects a scientifically informed vocal method to an under-researched and misunderstood part of horn playing. Working with the experts discussed above would increase my industry experience and provide me with knowledge so I can continue to work with experts here in Australia to advance our knowledge of the physiology of brass playing and the pedagogical techniques used to teach it. Australia has an incredibly rich history of world-class brass players and I hope that the knowledge I could gain from this overseas trip would contribute in a small way to continuing that tradition.
I wish to travel to Germany for several reasons. Not only is Germany a world class training ground for horn players, I find I work very well with the German approach to teaching horn, something I have experienced when travelling in Germany with QYO and AYO on previous trips. Moreover, I have always had an affinity for the sound produced by German orchestras, and I play a German instrument. I was also part of a German language immersion program in high school, spending two months there on exchange and therefore can speak German. I have considered studying a masters in Germany, so the time I would spend with Sibylle, would also allow me to see if she would be the right teacher for me to commit to studying a Masters with. I believe that Germany is the best option for this because not only do they have some of the world’s best teachers, but it is far more financially feasible than studying a masters in America or England which have incredibly high course fees. I would also be incredibly excited to travel to Amsterdam to get a lesson from Katy Woolley, a trip which is very easy to do from Germany. I have watched the content she has available online during which she constantly talks about singing through the instrument. I think a lesson/lessons with Katy would provide a wonderful chance to learn from her and explore how she incorporates this notion, something that has made her one of the best horn players of her generation.
England is absolutely the place to go for vocal pedagogy. London has the world’s most famous vocal teachers including the incredible pedagogue, Janice Chapmen. Her book formed the basis of my honours research, a publication which she collaborated with Ron Morris, an expert speech pathologist based in Brisbane who I worked with during my honours. I believe that through this personal connection, I will not only be able to engage with the formal courses on offer by Classical Voice Training which Janice runs and teaches in, but I also may be able to observe further lessons at the Guildhall School of Music in London or even potentially work one-on-one with Janice. London is also a hub of world class horn playing with leading training schools who have produced notable alumni such as Katy Woolley. While in London I would be able to get horn lessons from leading teachers as I have a couple friends who are currently professional players there who could put me in touch with teachers. Engaging with both vocal courses and getting horn lessons would allow me to maximise my engagement with industry professionals during my time overseas.
While these countries are at the forefront of technical training for horn playing and singing, visiting these destinations would also provide unique opportunity to attend concerts and be immersed in a world-renowned music scene. England and Germany exude historical and cultural context that is innately connected to the Western Classical Music tradition. While Australia has its own incredibly rich musical heritage that we must promote, significant amounts of the music we play as classical musicians originates from these historically significant music centres. Being able to travel to these places and gain a better understanding of the history and culture would allow me to be more musically informed when performing such works. Extending on this historical context, London and Germany are also at the forefront of contemporary music and travelling there would allow me to engage with the innovative projects happening in this space. Therefore, during my time overseas I would be able to attend performances that would further extend and inform my own artistry and provide me with insights that I can pass on to other fellow musicians and my students in Australia.
My long-term Goals
My long-term career goals are ultimately to be the best horn player, teacher and researcher I can be. I believe that striving for excellence is a sustainable goal that will open doors. When I began my degree, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to do the variety of jobs I have done over the past year and a half. I always work very hard in everything I do, and I believe that has been key to the opportunities I have had so far. My medium-term goals include studying overseas and winning a job in a part-time or full-time orchestra. I know that I still have huge developments that I can and need to make in my playing, and I believe that the BBM scholarship would provide me with the knowledge and experience that will help me achieve my goals.
I graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium in 2018 with First Class Honours and a university medal. Since then I have been establishing a portfolio career in Brisbane. I have worked with orchestras such as the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Pops Orchestra, Camerata ‘ Queensland’s chamber orchestra, and Southern Cross Soloists. Such performances include playing with the Bolshoi Ballet (Spartacus) and Palace Opera Ballet (Swan Lake) for their guest seasons at QPAC in Brisbane and performing with Katie Noonan in her collaborative concert with Michael Leunig. I also played with the Australian War Memorial Orchestra in the world premiere of The Diggers’ Requiem written by Australian Composers as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. In 2019 I went on international tour with the Australian Youth Orchestra and this year performed as Principal Horn in their Summer Season and will participate in their Chamber Players and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Fellowship programs later in the year. Furthermore, I have worked in other areas of the arts industry including: artist liaising for the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, guest tutoring at school music camps, working as a research assistant at the Queensland Conservatorium, and I am currently on staff at two schools teaching horn and conducting ensembles. As a research assistant I worked on two projects last year and am currently working on a third, larger project that will span most of this year.
Numerous recent studies have shown that artists, especially those who are young and emerging, must engage in portfolio careers to forge sustainable income. The current COVID crisis has demonstrated this to me more than ever. During this semi-hiatus from live performances I have found myself even more enthused to dive deep into becoming the best horn player I can be. I believe the next step for me is to go learn from the best in the world about the multitude of ways that people approach playing the horn and specifically how they incorporate ‘singing’ into their playing and practice. I believe the trip proposed will not only make me a better horn player and teacher, but it will give me unique knowledge that I can build upon, leaving me with what I believe are valuable and unique skills that will increase my employability in the future.
I always take every opportunity I can, and I believe this is important to become the most well-rounded musician I can be. Specifically, this year I begun taking regular vocal lessons so that I could be as informed on this topic as possible. I have already found this to be incredibly valuable for my playing – every week I am discovering new things that align between the disciplines and it has made me even more motivated to further explore this topic. I also believe this preparation is important so that I am skilled enough to get the most out of the vocal pedagogy courses I wish to undertake in England.
In my Community
I believe engaging with our own communities is really important and for me education is the primary way I can give back, and something that I hope is empowering for those involved. I currently volunteer each week for an education and community support organisation that works with and provides tutoring for refugee families. I would love to see this expanded to include music as a way to facilitate the formation of communities.
Developing sustainable projects in these spaces is incredibly difficult so I hope that as I gain more industry experience and expand my networks, I will be able to develop and trial something soon. I have however been able to explore this interest from an academic perspective this year while working on a project that looks at expanding the community engagement of music institutions and how they can provide more equitable musical experiences and education opportunities for the socially and culturally diverse communities they aim to serve.
I also contribute to my community through my teaching and performing. I think instrumental teaching gives me a unique opportunity to work with students in individual and small group lessons. I hope that through my teaching I impart to my students a joy for music, something that will see them through life even if they don’t continue to play their instrument after school as music is everywhere around us. Performing is another way to give back, and I have performed with my chamber group, Edgey Brass, in a variety of settings including free concerts, education programs and as a form of music therapy in hospitals and hospices.
The Horn is an incredibly difficult instrument, especially for beginners. The idea of helping other university and school students to practise more efficiently and productively is an incredibly rewarding concept for me. Beginners are often disheartened by the persistence required to play simple music at the beginning while their friends on other instruments appear to advance much faster. Similarly, university horn students spend hours trying to master the seemingly simple but incredibly difficult task of breathing along with all other aspects of playing. I would love to develop better brass pedagogy and performance techniques that would contribute to helping all students progress faster and practise more efficiently.
“Jessica offered an intelligent approach, well written, and demonstrates broad community mindedness through her approach to pedagogy.” – BBM Industry Panel