The New Discipline and its Artificial Hells: On Art, Pain, and Responsibility


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We are none of us inviolable. We are none of us free to craft affectual experiences without taking responsibility for those creations.

We do not have the artistic right or social license to signify recklessly, simply because we feel bored or creatively limited or unsatisfied with our current domain and have chosen to play within the bounds of another—with no examination of the contexts of ethics and consent that underwrite that craft.

This piece deals with questions of creative ethics that arose from my experience at the Darmstadt 2016 Summer Course. I specifically speak to the Composer-Performer Workshop “concert” on the night of August 10th.

My response arises from and details a personal experience that was true, non- optional, and not at all represented in either the student concert or the performances and discourses at the Summer Course as a whole.

The Composer-Performer event of August 10 was an evening…

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Mixed feelings: returning home


My little blog post on why KP is really awesome and George Brandis’ changes to arts funding are really not.

on chamber music


A really awesome post by Canadian-clarinettist-based-in-Cologne Heather Roche on the ins and outs of being in an ensemble.

heather roche

A few weeks ago, as part of a week long residency at Bangor University (specifically to play a rockin’ concert with Xenia Pestova and Carla Rees), I was asked to lead a workshop on chamber music performance. I don’t teach very often, so it was a great forum for developing my own thoughts in terms of what skills I’ve developed over the last three years, principally as a member of hand werk.

Just over two years isn’t a particularly long time to be working as an ensemble, but it seems to me that it’s at this point that one starts to feel a sense of consistency on stage. Even when we aren’t as individuals feeling our best (exhaustion at the end of our tour has been a contributing factor recently), we are still capable of delivering a high energy and convincing performance. It’s taken us more than two…

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Some commitments


This week I will:

  • get all of Triple Duo to crotchet = 70

  • memorise the 3rd mvt of Kate Soper’s Only the words…

  • read Kathy Fairfax’s pamphlet about Bolshevik women

  • talk to OzCo about best funding pathways for Kupka next year

  • write at least 3 blog entries

  • go to yoga class at least 3 times and stretch daily
  • do some serious personal planning about next year, including finding out application/audition dates for the masters courses I am interested in

  • also, planning for Kupka: program for next year, repertoire for July concert (‘Imaginary Colours’?), finances and business management
  • organise lessons w/ Patrick and Alexis

  • clear up all organisational tasks with the schools I teach at ahead of the last weeks of term

The Art of Possibility: practices #1 & #2


Alethea put me onto this book by Boston Philharmonic conductor Benjamin Zander and his partner Rosamund Stone Zander called The Art of Possibility – it was recommended to her by the wonderful Bettina (my flute big sister! x x). The book was written for the Harvard Business School, and the corporate speak is grating, but I think it may contain some very interesting thought exercises that will be quite worthwhile for me at this point in time. Each chapter briefly explores a concept, before giving suggestions for a practice so that the reader might find their own way into this theme. I have no idea if I’ll make it through all of these, but I’ve been looking for a new way to chip at my regular problems (avoidance, lethargy, anxiety, imposter syndrome, the blues) and I am more than happy to try anything suggested by either Alethea or Bettina!

These posts, should they continue, will likely prove fairly confusing and not especially interesting for any reader not familiar with the Zanders’ book, as I’m not going to bother outlining each of the concepts put forward in the text. Nevertheless, I appreciate anyone that bears with me, and who might provide their own insight on my progress.

Practice #1: It’s all invented

Here there are two initial questions to respond to, firstly:

What assumption am I making,
That I’m not aware I’m making
That gives me what I see?

I’ve been musing on this question all day. What is the context? I’m already worried I’m going to choose the wrong thing, and I won’t be able to think outside the confines of my current reality. So to start with I’m assuming there’s a right and a wrong way to go about engaging with these questions. I’m assuming I need to find a response that is relevant to my practice of music, as that is what I feel I’m struggling with right now (when in reality, I struggle this way with many aspects of my life – for example, sending invoices, a task that takes all of 2 minutes, is something I will put off until it is not only rudely late but I am also left with only $27 in my bank account). So already I suspect that working with and expanding the confines of my day-to-day thinking I might actually be able to affect change in my approach to flute practice.

Follow-up question:

What might I now invent,
That I haven’t yet invented,
That would give me other choices?

A whole life approach to ‘being’ a musician? Perhaps while this is something I feel I already do – eating well, taking care of my body (to be honest, this is something that happens for discreet pockets of time; the rest of the time I forget about it, slouch and slump, drag my feet and resist helpful exercises), scheduling my life around practice (more honesty: this is actually a rarely realised ideal) – I could devote more attention and energy to living every second as a musician, my every action laced with intention toward my musician self. Is this in itself a restricting ambition? Or a liberating one? I’m unsure… Is this the right response to worrying about finding the right response?

Practice #2: Stepping into a universe of possibility

After outlining the concept of the ‘measurement world’, the book poses further questions:

How are my thoughts and actions, in this moment, reflections of the measurement world?

I was looking, in answering the first two questions, to be the star pupil – to give the right answer to the questions. In that way, I was hoping to set myself apart, measured against any other readers as someone that could truly discover something new about themselves and click onto that easy, linear path. I felt lost because I really didn’t know how I could use these questions to make immediate progress towards improvement of my music practice.

How are my thoughts and actions, in this new moment, a reflection of the measurement world?

I am secretly desiring a magic moment where things such click into place and I suddenly see success after success, which in my mind’s eye seems to be shrouded in a radiant golden glow. I am goal orientated, I want to be an accomplished and admired musician.

And how now?

I want to be able to delve deeper into this question, to find the root of the problem. Like I want to delve into my psyche, find the fault, and cast it away.


I doubt my ability to keep questioning. In addition I find myself thinking that this will be an awfully dreary blog post for anyone that should attempt to read it.


It is impossible to escape being shaped by the assumptions that underlie all of life. (This is a statement of the book, but while I can on a kind of surface level recognise it, the premise frustrates me somewhat.)

Thoughts in a bit of a muddle, but hey that’ll do for now. Perhaps some clarity will arise in time.

Some things I need to do

  1. Drink more water.
  2. Stretch more (today I am nursing a very sore, seized-up shoulder and neck), do more yoga, remember to heat pack my muscles after practice, etc.
  3. Find some more (paid…) work, perhaps marking. Earn enough that I can afford a massage on occasion.
  4. Eat less cheese, more vegan. More green smoothies.
  5. Take lessons with Alexis Kenny, looking at flute festival competition repertoire and other standard rep. Work out some way of getting to Sydney for a chunk of lessons with Laura Chislett.
  6. Organise my practice time much better, and spend more time playing things like the Händel sonatas for style and sound.
  7. Mimic recordings I like. Return to the slow movement project of my new year’s resolutions.
  8. Tidy up our house and keep it tidy…
  9. Do more exercise in general, walk Ernie everyday.
  10. Write more blog posts. Monitor my progress (and lack thereof) better and more often.

But right now I’m going to sit with my heat pack on my shoulder and watch Doctor Who. You, on the other hand, should watch this – it’s eighth blackbird and friends playing Andriessen’s Worker’s Union – in honour of the Labour Day marches around Australia today.


The Rambler’s fantastic IWD female composer listening lists were how I first came across this great blog. Get listening to this year’s fantastic playlist! I intend to spend some time thinking about how I can better champion the work of young female composers … more thoughts to follow.

The Rambler


Today is International Women’s Day, and as in previous years the Rambler is marking the occasion with a celebration of contemporary music by women. The Radio Rambler playlist has been updated with 5 hours of music by female composers, all of it rather fantastic. Enjoy!

Liza Lim – Weaver of Fictions (ABC)
Annette Schmucki – Arbeiten/Verlieren. Die Wörter. (Musiques Suisse)
Annea Lockwood – Thousand Year Dreaming (Pogus)
Judith Weir – Michael’s Strathspey (NMC)
Ursula Mamlok – Confluences (Bridge Records)
Nurit Jugend – Bows to Brushes (innova)
Juliana Hodkinson – Fish and Fowl (Dacapo)
Carola Bauckholt – Gerauschtone (Coviello)
Jennifer Walshe – i: same person / ii: not the same person (Interval)
Elodie Lauten – Rhyme and Reason (self-released)
Julia Wolfe – East Broadway (Point Music)
Chaya Czernowin…

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