Playing the violin at 6...Early Influences

Having been encouraged to learn the violin from the age of 5, as part of a fantastic music program at Methodist Ladies’ College (Perth), I sang and played my way through school, completing my final year of school as Faction Choir Conductor, Speech Night vocal soloist, Senior Strings Ensemble 1st desk, 1st Violins and Lead Viola in the Intermediate Orchestra (it being difficult to play both instruments at once in the same ensemble!).

Although I was keen to join a choir after graduation, there was no such facility at Curtin University, where I was studying Computer Science and Japanese.  So it wasn’t until I found Perth Harmony in my last year of uni that I was singing regularly again.

Barbershop

I joined Sweet Adelines in 1993 and spent 7 years as an active member of the Perth Harmony Chorus, Region 34 (Australia). During that time I served as a section leader for 5 years, then after completing 6 months of training, I served for just over a year as Assistant Director and Vocal Production Coach for the chorus, leading to Regional Competition in June 2000, where the chorus was ecstatic to achieve a score of 640 points. I gained frontline directing experience, both in rehearsal and public performance situations as well as learning and developing some excellent section rehearsal techniques and a lot of PVI experience.

For 6 years I also performed as a member of the quartet “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”, winning silver medals in all 3 Regional contests we entered and exploring the exciting world of the recording studio as we released our 2 CDs in 1998.

In 1999 I was invited to join the Regional Education Faculty for Australia and travelled to choruses in my state to evaluate and coach choruses as an official representative of the Regional Education Coordinator. I also coached choruses and quartets in a private capacity for a number of years during my time in Western Australia.

I arrived in the UK in September 2000 and after settling into work and home life, I started to make contacts in the Region.  After the Regional Workshop in Peterborough in November 2000, I began to coach a few quartets and choruses on a regular basis.  In the two and a half years I lived near London, I coached 60% the choruses in the region, and a few quartets along the way. I also ran a workshop for quartets in Aberdeen, some public workshops for individual choruses, helped to set up the Regional Education Team, and served as a member of that team for the year before we returned to Australia.

I accepted the role of Education Coordinator for Region 34 (Australia) in 2004 but unfortunately had to resign after only one year of service due to Joseph’s illness. I hope to return to the role sometime in the future!

I took a break from quartetting in 2009 after 6 fantastic years with Audacious/The Latest News (we won bronze and silver during that time as well as helping me stay sane!) and a brief stint concurrently with JJAM (a fun quartet with my sister).  Luckily, through A Cappella West, my sister and I found two more and formed a novice quartet called Fling! who competed in 2011 – an interesting challenge for me as I sang lead!  Sadly, the tenor moved inter-state so we could not continue, but that turned out well when I was asked to join 3 great singers to form Hi-Jinx Quartet.  We are now 4 times Australian champs and have competed at international three times, most recently in 2014 coming 19th in the world!  In 2015 we head for Las Vegas.

I also sang with a mixed quartet called Guys & Dolls in 2010, when we won our division at the AAMBS Western Region Quartet Competition.  It was great fun, but also a challenge – I wish I had male lungs!

I coach quartets (men and women) as well as providing individual and small group vocal workouts on request. I am back on active duty as a member of Australian Regional Faculty, and am travelling to choruses around Australia in the coming year.  I am also involved in a group called YIBDI, interested in promoting barbershop to the youth of Western Australia. Click here for more details.

In 2008, I became involved with the start of a brand new chorus in WA called A Cappella West.  I was lucky enough to be part of this from the first night and became so enthusiastic that I joined the Directing staff as an Assistant until I passed my DCP, officially becoming a Co-Director with Lindsey Dyer in November 2008.  At our first contest in 2010 we were flabbergasted to come 4th – we had not anticipated medals with a 2 year old chorus!  It was a fantastic experience, and I received an award for Novice Director as it was my first time out!  We came 6th in our second contest in 2012, and 2nd (and Most Improved) in our third contest in 2013! We took a year off, then returned to contest in Hobart in 2015 where we were blown away to win the Gold with an amazing score of 626!  This made Lindsey and myself Master Directors – an amazing jump of 44 points from our last contest.  The challenge now is to get our 80 voice chorus to Las Vegas in 2016.

Classical Work

As part of my desire to improve my performance in my quartet, I studied classical singing with Joan Hind until we went to live in London in 2000.  I also completed my 3rd grade theory at the same time, then continued my theory studies in 2004, completing my 4th grade exam at 8 months pregnant!

Since my return, I have also been fortunate enough to adjudicate at several eisteddfods in Western Australia, including Northam Eisteddfod and the South Suburban Music Society Eisteddfod in 2015, and the Joondalup Eisteddfod in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

I also sing at weddings – mostly my friends’, but if you know anyone getting married……