What do you teach at the Con?
Drums and percussion.
What genres do you teach?
Usually a balance of three things:
- whatever I think is necessary for the student’s development,
- whatever they are working on, for example at school or in an ensemble, and
- music they are interested in.
The combined answer to these questions leads some students to focus more on rock, some focus more on jazz, some focus more on concert band repertoire for a while, and so on.
I have deliberately avoided answering the question! We’re really lucky to play an instrument that can be found in, and used to play, an incredibly wide variety of musical genres and traditions.
What is it that you love about teaching music – particularly at Wollongong Conservatorium?
The students! I love seeing students learn, find their own path, I love it when they finally figure out something they have been working on for a while, I love it when they say ‘I want to learn this song but I just can’t figure out this part…’
Also, Wollongong Con is one of my favourite places in the world because we are surrounded by great students, teachers and ensembles all the time. There is a very strong link between lessons, ensembles, student performances and professional performances, which Eric Dunan has been cultivating for over 20 years.
Recently my teaching room has been between Trish Delaney-Brown and Jeremy Sawkins’ rooms, sometimes I walk past them and think “I don’t know what they’re working on in there but it sounds awesome.” We have a great group of teachers at the Con and it’s really nice to be working in that environment.
Please share a particular career highlight and why it’s special to you.
Honestly, I have highlights all the time when I’m playing with my friends, teaching, and working on projects. A couple that really stand out were playing with Wadada Leo Smith in 2008, and in 2016 when The Vampires brought Lionel Loueke here. Those projects were special because we had a special guest that was really amazing, they were with some of my closest friends, I was really proud of the music we made, and we worked really hard to make those projects happen.
What’s one piece of music that you’d recommend people listen to?
Monk’s Mood, from Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall