How did you come to be a musician?
My parents are retired Salvation Army ministers and music is a significant part of the Salvation Army culture. I started learning piano when I was six and the cornet not long after, playing in the local Salvation Army learner band. I trundled along with the cornet – I was never very good – but it was in my teens when I decided I wanted to make music my career.
Early on there were few successes and many failures but eventually I was accepted into tertiary study and have since enjoyed a very varied musical career. I have worked as a defence musician with the Australian Army Band and as a civilian, with most of the professional orchestras in eastern Australia.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of playing music? What’s the hardest part?
Sitting where I do, I always feel like I have the best seat in the house. I get to watch the conductor’s direction and the audience reaction, and be surrounded by, and contribute to, an amazing product.
The hardest part would be dealing with nerves. I often compare performing on stage with an extreme sport such as skydiving or bungee jumping. It is an unusual combination of joy and terror!
What are you doing when you’re not on stage with the CSO?
For most of my working week I am involved in music education at Canberra Girls Grammar School, where I am Head of Brass.
I am also still an active member of the Australian Defence Force; I have recently taken up a position with the Defence Force School of Music as a military instructor and I often perform with the Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
I often compare performing on stage with an extreme sport…It is an unusual combination of joy and terror!
What’s one of your favourite places in Canberra?
When the sun is out, I enjoy being down by Lake Burley Griffin. Running the ‘bridge to bridge’ is always a treat.
Any book, podcast or movie recommendations?
Star Wars (the original trilogy). Spaceships in dog fights, sabre duels, shoot outs, arguably the most recognisable villain ever, all set to the score of John Williams. Perfection!
I always feel like I have the best seat in the house. I get to watch the conductor’s direction and the audience reaction, and be surrounded by, and contribute to, an amazing product.
What’s something you love that has nothing to do with music?
I wanted to learn Martial Arts all through my teens and as a young adult but never did. I finally started studying Aikido when I enrolled my oldest son into classes. Our Sensei (teacher) has built a beautiful community where parents will often train in the adult classes and then assist in their children’s. Through training in Aikido, I gain new insights into the teaching and learning process which I can then include in my own brass pedagogy.
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
I would like to be able to slow down time; life seems to move too fast sometimes.
Sweet or savoury?
I love to BBQ using my traditional Weber kettle. Recently, I have been trying to replicate the low and slow BBQ techniques Americans use to cook ribs and brisket.
However, I also have a terrible sweet tooth.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Identify and concentrate on what is really important.