By Jamie Kennedy
PhD candidate (Griffith University) and freelance trombonist in Brisbane
If you (or one of your students) are looking to study trombone at university in 2014, this brief survey will outline some of the tertiary music institutions and teachers on offer around Australia. Application deadlines at most Australian universities fall between August and October, so now is a good time to begin comparing institutions and thinking about what you want to get out of your future education.
There is more than just institutional prestige to consider when planning to study an instrument at university level. Firstly, have a think about what you want to achieve – we would all like to improve our playing, but is there a style of music you prefer? Are there gaps in your experience that you want to fill? The music performance industry has changed vastly over the last century, with today’s musicians often pursuing careers that involve a mixture of performing, teaching, event management, publicity, the use of recording and notation software or managing their own small business. Many musicians find a successful combination of some or all of these activities with most only moving into those roles after graduation. So while it’s good to have a think about it, if you only have a general idea of what you want to achieve then that’s ok – the more you experience, the better you’ll know what you want to do with your career.
Once you’ve thought about what you want to achieve you can think about how to get there and what skills you might need. Most Australian cities have a number of tertiary institutions that offer a Bachelor of Music, so take the time to look at each one. The traditional elements of the conservatoire model are instrumental lessons, solo and ensemble performance, as well as studies in music theory and history. The choice of a trombone teacher is possibly the most important aspect in choosing a place to study and I will discuss that later on. Being around other trombone and brass players – teachers and students – is also vitally important for learning the craft and becoming part of that network of practitioners.
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