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.
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 became 6 time Australian champs and competed at international five times, reaching 19th in the world thrice.
I also sang with a mixed quartet called Guys & Dolls in 2010, when we won our division at the BHA Western Region Quartet Competition. It was great fun, but also a challenge – I wish I had male lungs! In 2017 I sang in a mixed quartet called Twice On Sunday. We won the Western Region in 2017 and then went on to compete at the BHA National convention where we became Australian Mixed Quartet Champions as well as Pan Pacific Mixed Quartet Champs!
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. In 2023 I was offered a chance to be an International Faculty Associate – exciting times!
In the early 2000s I was involved in a group called YIBDI, interested in promoting barbershop to the youth of Western Australia. Although the “Big Barbershop Day Out” school events stopped some years ago, I have started a similar model at my children’s school. 2023 will be the 5th A Cappella Exposure workshop. On the back of this event, I’ve become the first woman to serve on the Barbershop Harmony Australia National Council as Vice President Youth Development, simultaneously taking up YWIH Coordinator with Sweet Adelines Australia.
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. We took 80 voices to the international competition in Las Vegas in 2016 and had a great experience. We were quite happy (!) to come second to the amazing Endeavour Harmony at the Perth convention in 2017, giving us a year to “relax” before heading to Hobart in 2018 where we were thrilled to up our score to 632, sending us on our way to New Orleans in September 2019. Not a bad first 10 years!
Sadly, dear Lindsey was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and although our quartet, Enchant, were 2019 regional champions, in the end I took the chorus to New Orleans alone and the quartet withdrew. She died in October 2019, leaving a grieving chorus, quartet and friends. But our grief was interrupted by Covid and the next few years became a struggle to manage grief, a global pandemic and shifting from a co-directorship into solo direction. 2024 sees ACW and myself turning the corner and gaining momentum again.
Since 2021 I’ve been honoured to serve on the SAI DCP Review Committee as well as continuing my work on Regional Faculty and with the Music Leaders Program that Lindsey began. In 2023 I was accepted into the ranks of Sweet Adelines International Faculty and look forward to new horizons serving on a new taskforce for SAI in 2024.
My new quartet, Skylark, are SAI Region 34 champions and placed 20th in our first International in Louisville in 2023 as well as taking out the Women’s Gold and Open Bronze at the BHA/BHNZ PanPacifics in New Zealand in September. Barbershop is my life!
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!
I have also been fortunate enough to adjudicate at several eisteddfods in Western Australia, including Northam Eisteddfod and the South Suburban Music Society Eisteddfod and the Joondalup Eisteddfod.
I also sing at weddings – mostly my friends’, but if you know anyone getting married……