Musical Life? Oh yeah!

It’s Sunday afternoon. In between doing laundry, preparing a Sunday roast, and writing up my student log, I want to post something!

This life! This awesome musical life! It’s real and it is far out!

I come home each evening all psyched up and rattling off to hubby Mike what happened and what’s on for next week. My students range the ethnic, age and ability spectrum. Adults, four-, five-, six- and seven-year-olds, teens. A mother is learning with her four-year-old, there are many siblings. One person is undergoing medical treatment and revisiting music from his youth. A mother came back to me after having “trial” lessons with several teachers; she said she liked the way I taught her son. I am stoked! Whatever I’m doing, I’m making a connection.

My teaching experiences have different settings. Students and their parents who come to me at the Music Express studios in Upper Mt Gravatt have the closest relationship with me. Interaction with the parents is informative, meaningful and nurturing.

I encourage all parents to sit in on my lessons with their young children. It means they can be supportive at home, and really experience and be part of their child’s path of discovery in this new musical world! With adults, I try and identify what they want to achieve, and think about how I might help them get there.

Elsewhere, I have a more challenging set-up, where the students are signed up with a music school, not with me. I am on contract. Initially I found games and exercises from the internet to reinforce something the student was learning, or strengthen a weak area. But I turned up with the extra stuff to find the student was no longer mine for one reason or another.

Still, I write up the progress of those students who are continuously with me, and I can see a difference: they care, and they come in keen to show me what they’ve done. That is the true shot in the arm and I am blown away by it. So, all good: I meet an array of students that I didn’t acquire myself, and it’s opportunity to learn as well as to teach.

The musical journey doesn’t end there. I got a call last week from a woman who said she is the Music Director of Sunnybank Theatre Group. She said she was looking for “a good pianist”.

“It’s so difficult to find someone,” she said. “The good ones are all booked and there just aren’t many pianists around who can play rock rhythms. They’re all classically-trained.”


“Yes. Really.”

June Gemell usually plays piano herself, but this year she wants to direct without playing the piano. So what’s the show? The end-of-year production is a jukebox musical Breaking Up Is Hard To Do featuring the songs of Neil Sedaka.

stg audition page

I met June at her home , plus John the band’s drummer (he found me from Gumtree) and Robyn who’s Assistant Musical Director and in charge of the singers.

“It’s a lot of work…a lot of rehearsals…” they all warned.

But that’s the Arts isn’t it? It’s always a labour of love. This is just what I needed to find, a community of passionate musical people in Brisbane. Instead they found me!

(This will hold me in good stead as I approach the terrifying status of empty nester. I’m sure gonna need some hobbies, and a few pets. At the moment I have refrained from pleading with my son to study in-state. How low can it go? Free laundry service? Pathetic. But curiously plausible.)

Anyway, the Musical Life is on! FULL ON!

Ooh… I hear Laughter In The Rain, walking hand in hand with the one I love….Tra la la la la la la la, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen…

Better get my do-wap chops going!



  1. Leonie Walsh

    We’re going to have a ball Joanna. “Breaking Up is Hard to DO” will have Sunnybank Theatre Group’s patrons rocking along to you and the band and cast… See you Sunday for auditions.

  2. uppervalleygirl

    Comme je suis jalouse! How I envy your musical life. I started teaching myself mandolin (portable!) 4-5 years ago (lost count) and in the last year probably picked it up twice total in my overwrought work life. I remember being so proud that I could (sort of) read music. I miss it. That you are a decent (and rock) pianist is beyond imaginable toi me. Someone told me years ago at church, “You can teach yourself guitar in a matter of months. The piano is REALLY HARD!!!” Kudos, fair lady.

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