Amanda is a well-established freelance composer, performer and piano teacher. Her special areas of interest are in contemporary classical and world music genres. She is an active performer, and a composer with three CD releases. Many of the works from her large catalogue of scored compositions are published through Wirripang Pty Ltd. Amanda also gives regular performances as the leader and singer in her quartet Canto Latino.
Amanda is a dedicated practitioner of the Alexander Technique, which underpins every area in her music making. This approach fosters healthy psycho-physical habits optimising human design in movement as it deepens both musical and self-awareness.
As a teacher Amanda has extensive experience spanning four decades, with a long record of happy and successful students. Her objectives are to awaken creativity, foster spontaneity and deepen artistry within all her students. Her piano teaching practices at the Penrith Conservatorium and private studio in Katoomba are thriving hives of learning activity.
Navigating the nexus of classical contemporary and world music, Amanda is a composer with a unique and distinctive musical style.
Her music has been described and reviewed as “... hauntingly beautiful, creative, cohesive and compositionally advanced...”, “...engaging and evocative” and “seductive with a Spanish tinge, and a lot of grit”.
Amanda has a Masters’ Degree in Composition with a thesis titled Music of Balance: The Circle in a Square. She has also undertaken private study and tuition in flamenco and tango music abroad. Her compositions explore a range of themes such as mandalas, mythologies, landscapes and dance forms. Her catalogue of scores includes many commissioned works for various ensembles and soloists. Amanda’s music has been performed in National and International Festivals, broadcast on radio, and recorded on CDs by other artists.
Her first compositional models include Bartók, Debussy and George Crumb. Since then she has extended her craft to incorporate themes as eclectic as the mandala, myth and landscape, and broadened her scope in an experimental collaborative project.
The mandala is a symbol which embodies the perfect balance of form and expression - a circle inside a square. In her portfolio of works for her Master’s Degree Amanda employed cyclic rhythms and motifs layered with drones and shifting pedal points in a search for the sonic manifestation of this universal symbol.
Myths and legends have inspired another body of Amanda’s work in which exotic tales and moods of distant times and lands are conveyed metaphorically. Rich and luxurious colours and textures emerge from her unique treatment of unusual modes and tonalities.
Symbolic aspects of the Australian landscape and environment also inform her creative work. Elemental and visceral with rhythmic vitality and harmonic edge, her “nature” works ponder the geo-physicality of a particular place and the experience of it.
Amanda has enjoyed seeing many of her compositions choreographed and performed by her friend and colleague Fiona James. Most notable of Fiona’s many choreographies to Amanda’s music the are pieces presented for the Ghosts and Angels live concert at the Joan Sutherland Centre in 2008 with dancers (Fiona), Kelly, Grace and Keegan James.
Amanda’s catalogue of scores represents music for a range of acoustic instruments suitable for professional players and for students from preliminary, through to tertiary levels.
INFLUENCES & APPROACHES TO COMPOSITION
Read about Amanda’s composition process as published in a textbook by J. Burrows for HSC students HERE
“Listen deeply” is my credo in making and teaching music. This maxim speaks not only about the obvious - listening to music - but of how I apply myself as a teacher in hearing and seeing the unique persona of each student.
My approach to teaching takes on a boutique style as I create individualised pathways tailored to meet the musical desires and abilities of each student. Simultaneously imparting knowledge and training with a solid base of skills, I seek to imbue them with a life-long love of music and the confidence to explore it creatively.
For those who wish to enter for exams, I offer the AMEB and ANZCA syllabuses (I am a qualified ANZCA examiner). I very much enjoy working with HSC students and those who are interested in alternative performance scenarios, improvisation, analysis and/or composition. My methods with young children and beginners are drawn from various sources (including adaptations of the Kodaly system blended with song writing and improvising), to build solid musicianship and facilitate ease and fluency.
Many of my students are now professional musicians and teachers and I’m proud of their achievements, but my satisfaction is equaled by the great number of former students who continue to play for pleasure in their adult years, sustained by a love of making music. Whether you are an adult or a child student, my objectives are to awaken your creativity, improve your sound, explore your spontaneity and deepen your artistry through making music.
EXTRA INFO & PEDAGOGICAL ACTIVITIES
My teaching practices are based from my home studio in the Blue Mountains, and at the Penrith Conservatorium of Music. I’ve been on the teaching staff there since its opening in 1991.
Over the decades I have written many pieces for developing pianists and other instrumentalists. These include a series of pieces specifically crafted for teenagers and HSC students titled Migrations in Music (Grades 3 - 4 | 5 - 6). The pieces introduce students and teachers to modal tonalities and unusual time signatures. The music is published with an acoustic CD, musical analysis and program notes. It is designed to be attractive and engaging for teenagers and adults playing at grades 3 to 6 level. The next volume for grades 1 and 2 is on the drawing board. For samples and sales CLICK HERE
Two of the pieces from Migrations in Music are published in recent AMEB Pianoforte Examination books: Stalactite (grade 5) and Dreamboat Blues (grade 6). All of the works in Migrations in Music - along with a few others - are included in the ANZCA examination syllabus (grades 3 to 8). I’ve given a number of presentations to introduce modal music and unusual time signatures to piano teachers at various conferences, including the Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference in Melbourne in 2015.
As part of my teaching practice, I offer consultation sessions to student composers – especially to HSC students. Some years ago I taught subjects: Analytical Models and Harmony & Counterpoint for the Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Western Sydney, and I have given guest lectures on composition at various festivals and seminars over the years.
Last year I was invited to make a one page contribution in a Wirripang Publications book by Joanne Burrows (Head of Piano & Music Craft, Riverina Conservatorium). The book assists general high school music teachers to prepare their students for the HSC composition component of courses 1 & 2. This is what I wrote about my process in composing music. To read CLICK HERE
For the last ten years I have been involved in the practise and study of the Alexander Technique (AT). This is a psycho-physical approach to human movement which enables us to develop conscious control and co-ordination of ourselves as we play and learn. I employ these principles in studio teaching discretely and indirectly. Whilst I am nurturing a strong and healthy piano technique in my students, I approach the technique area with delicacy and care, always keeping it strongly bound to musicality.
Currently I am studying the subjects “Human Movement” and “Anatomy” to complete my certification as a “BodyMinded” practitioner. For more info about the Alexander Technique click HERE
Last year I wrote a three part series of articles for the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW. Titled “A Rocky Road to Revolution”. It tells the story of my lucky encounter with the Alexander Technique and how this approach relates to my studio teaching work.
Here is a downloadable pdf of the article for your interest. It is published as a series in the association’s journals: August and November 2018 and February 2019.
“A Rocky Road to Revolution” Part 1 - Published in The Studio, Vol. 24 No. 3, August 2018 and reproduced with permission.
“A Rocky Road to Revolution” Part 2 - Published in The Studio, Vol. 24 No. 4, November 2018 and reproduced with permission
“A Rocky Road to Revolution” Part 3 - Published in The Studio, Vol. 24 No. 5, February 2019 and reproduced with permission