Kelvin Haisman


What do you teach at the Con?


What genres do you teach?

I teach all genres from Classical through to Latin and Jazz to Contemporary Pop and Soul. I also teach composition and arranging, and coach vocalists in selecting repertoire/keys/arrangements and in developing the ability to lead an accompanist/band and vice versa. I love focussing upon harmonic and rhythmic awareness, ear training and learning to memorise in my lessons.

What is it that you love about teaching music – particularly at Wollongong Conservatorium?

Watching any student grow in confidence and develop both pride in their skills and a commitment to music is what motivates me. Whilst I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to work professionally with a quite number of past students, it remains equally satisfying helping an absolute beginner to take their first steps.

I think the Wollongong community is very lucky to have this Conservatorium and all its associated activities so accessible . It’s a wonderful facility in surroundings that are certainly conducive to music making and teaching.

Please share a particular career highlight and why it’s special to you.

I’ve been a professional musician for over thirty years and have performed and taught in many many different and sometimes quite bizarre situations. Stuck in Naples on a broken-down Russian Cruise ship whilst fronting a Jazz Trio; working in Holland and having an absolute ball with Nelson Mandela’s close childhood friend, the ex boxing champion, soccer star, TV personality…and great Jazz Vocalist(!), Darius Dhlomo; touring the Western Desert in a ute giving songwriting workshops and performing and hanging out with Sammy and Gordon Butcher from the Warumpi Band, are just a few that spring to mind!

It’s impossible to nominate  a single career highlight but I think as a teacher, it’s been the privilege of living on and working with remote Indigenous communities and seeing first hand the joy and pride that music brings. Hearing seven year olds who’ve likely never seen, let alone  touched a keyboard before, play a complex phrase straight back to you is an education.

What’s one piece of music that you’d recommend people listen to?

Donny Hathaway’s live performance of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You”. Donny could go seamlessly from Ravel to pure Gospel on the piano and his vocals on what is already an amazing song are just unbelievably good and rightly famous.

…and Yo Yo Ma’s recordings of Bach’s Cello Suites. Wonderful compositions and my go- to listening when I can’t find my Donny Hathaway albums.