2024 Sydney Music Educators Conference – Session Abstracts

Below you will find the confirmed session abstracts for the 2024 Conference. We will add to these abstracts as they become available.

How we teach is as important as what we teach: 20 ways to energize your rehearsals
Dr Peter Boonshaft

This session offers ways to improve and focus our rehearsing and teaching, offering specific techniques to solve everyday concerns. A practical look at what, why and how we can teach to achieve better results faster, easier and more efficiently. Useful for teachers and conductors of any level and type of ensemble.

How do I get them to watch? How do I get them to listen?
Stephen Williams

Being an accomplished and musically sensitive ensemble player centres around the two essential elements of watching and listening. In this practical session Steve offers many strategies to enable you to have real control of your ensemble, while also teaching your players how to take more responsibility with the music they are playing and their role within the ensemble.

Power up your Program
Garry Clark

In this session Garry highlights the many ways you can invest in your ensemble’s success, with particular focus on young bands. From recruiting for a well-balanced ensemble, to achieving the ‘balance pyramid’ in practice (Bass guitar – play the part or write your own?) Garry will guide you through timbre preference tests, the role of tutors in your program, suitable method books and repertoire, along with a host of practical rehearsal tips.

Conducting Calisthenics
Dr Peter Boonshaft

This session will explore how we can become better at the technical and expressive aspects of conducting through a series of exercises and short excerpts we will conduct as a group. This fun and enjoyable approach offers ways to further develop our hands, face, and body language to be more effective and efficient in rehearsals, as well as help our ensembles achieve even greater musical goals.

Improving Your Band One Instrument At A Time
Mandy Fara Boonshaft

Each of us has instruments that we teach more confidently than others. This session aims to provide band directors with valuable tips and techniques to enhance every section of the band. It covers advice on tone development, posture, playing position, technique and other essential aspects.

“Groove, Doos, Dats and Dows” Practical tips to impart Jazz Ensemble language
Simon Sweeney

Have you ever thought “Why doesn’t my band sound like the recording on J W Pepper?” In this presentation Simon presentation will to impart some simple but very practical tips to make your ensembles sound more like a professional band based on his experience directing high school, university, and primary school bands for over 30 years.
Individual coaching sessions
Paul Vickers
Paul will provide individual sessions throughout all three days of the upcoming Sydney Music Educators Conference (17-19 July, 2024). In these specialised sessions, delegates will be supported in exploring their own professional growth, and the development of the ensembles and music programs they lead. Individual sessions can be focused, at the participant’s choosing, on:
  • Coaching; guided reflection to level up learning during the conference
  • Consultancy; mining expertise relevant to a delegate’s context, or
  • Conducting; developing technique through a focus on known repertoire.  


ASBOF ‘How to’ Series

ASBOF’s popular ‘How to’ Series will run throughout the Conference. Run by instrumental specialist, these sessions are designed to upskill MDs in directing the sections of their ensemble/program where they might have limited playing/performing experience, and as a refresher for more experienced players/performers. Sections to be covered will include:

Fun With Flutes
Mandy Fara Boonshaft

Working with a group of volunteer, novice flute players, this practical session covers aspects of teaching beginner flutists.  This hands-on session will cover everything from producing the first sounds, assembling the instrument, to the basics of playing. This will help teachers to see, first-hand, effective ways to start off their beginners to make sure they meet with success, as well as troubleshooting problems encountered by young and developing flute students.

Lower Brass for the Non-brass player
Presenter: Cathy Chan and Rod Herbert

Cathy is a freelance conductor, working mainly in Sydney’s Inner West. She has a Masters Degree in Conducting from the NSW Conservatorium of Music and works regularly with school and community groups. Cathy plays many instruments but especially enjoys the euphonium and tuba and has helped to coordinate International Tuba Day events and an International Tuba Conference. In her spare time, she enjoys scrabble, vegetarian yum cha and chocolate.

Percussion for the Non-percussionist
Presenter: Murray Parker and Luke Thatcher

Murray Parker is a professional musician, specialising in percussion and timpani performance across many genres including film score, popular, orchestral and historically informed early music. He has played with (amongst others): The Metropolitan Orchestra, The Orchestra of Opera North (Leeds, UK), Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Opera Australia Orchestra (AOBO), Australian Chamber Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia. He has taught widely at primary and high school level, and has a particular interest in setting up foundational programs for primary school percussion groups.

Luke is a dynamic drummer, percussionist, and educator from the United States, who holds a Master’s degree in Music Performance from the University of Florida and a Bachelor of Arts from Rollins College. His early career was marked by performances at Disney World, for Princess and Norwegian Cruise Lines, as well as various venues on the Las Vegas Strip. Since relocating to Australia in 2012, Luke has emerged as a central figure in the percussion community. Luke has toured extensively across Australia and, as a writer, has been published in Rhythm! Scene magazine and has also written a method book on snare drum technique called ‘The Definitive Drum Drill’. Luke is endorsed by Dynasty Drums and Innovative Percussion and is thankful for their support with his diverse musical pursuits.

Sax/Clarinet for the Non-reed player
Presenter: Nic Russionello

Nick is a highly accomplished and dynamic saxophonist, composer, ensemble leader and educator. A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Conservatorio di Musica “Giuseppe Verdi” di Milano, Nick has appeared as a soloist or guest musician with many of Australia’s premier arts organisations including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian World Orchestra, the Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra, The Metropolitan Orchestra and the Acacia Quartet. He has been the recipient of major awards including the ABC Symphony Australian Young Performer of the Year Award, Fine Music Kruger Scholarship and a finalist for the Australian Freedman Fellowship. Nick holds a doctorate from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, is a Yamaha Australia Artist, D’Addario Woodwind Artist and a Represented Artist with the Australian Music centre.

Upper Brass and French Horn for the non-brass player
Presenters: Anthony Heinrichs (SSO Tpt), French Horn – TBA