c. 1974 – somewhat naive, but ready for the road
L-to-R: me (guitar), Tony Mockridge (vocals),
Harry Curtis (bass, sadly now passed away), Bob Peel (drums).
We never quite cracked the ‘big time’, whatever that really means in the common ‘stardom-or-bust’ vernacular. Perhaps this was to do with my attitude about money and pay-scales – somehow those record company deals never seemed to quite add up. In any case, I became increasingly interested in the idea of more strings to my bow (what they seem to be calling ‘portfolio careers’ these days) and there was no way to avoid the fact that this was based on an arsenal of high level skills.
I subsequently relocated to Sydney in the late 70s, feeling the needing a change of scene and better musical chops. Jazz fusion was emerging at the time and Sydney had a burgeoning jazz scene together with a Conservatorium of some note that offered programs led by some of the jazz stars of the time. I auditioned and enrolled, trouble was, I didn’t like it and I didn’t like what they taught. Academic content and delivery seemed to be quite disconnected to working, but moreover, the jazz was way too ‘straight’ for my liking, delivered by who I then thought of as ‘old guys’. So, I found private tuition from a number of gigging rock guys with huge chops, dropped out of the Con and for the next five years or so, practiced and played harder than I even had before in my life.
I moved back to Brisbane in the early 80s to take up a number of great recording and touring offers. This was also time of the birth of the PC, MIDI (the musical Instrument digital interface), the CD and digital sound. I jumped right in, using my experience and love of recording studios to build a facility in Brisbane, probably one of the first, affordable ‘Home studios’ here. This used emerging technologies to synchronise software and microphone recording to produce a lot of original music in the next decade or so.
It was this trajectory that first bought me to deliver an invited masterclass on film music and recording technology at the Queensland Conservatorium in 1998. The ‘technology’ moniker stuck, and I somehow became to default ‘music tech’ guy because of my work with computers primarily, but my rock, R&B, and jazz music never really got much of a look-in at a mostly traditional conservatoire at that time. Still. I loved the teaching – and the challenge of being part of a team to bring the conservatoire into the 21st century.
During the 90s, I subsequently designed and convened a range of music technology-related undergraduate, postgraduate degree programs and specializations. I also built a number of recording studios (including the staff research space IMERSD [Intermedia, Music Education & Research Design], networked facilities and computer labs.
L-to-R: Griffith Vice-Chancellor Prof Ian O’Connor, [then] Qld Govt Arts & Education Minister, Anna Bligh [now Premier of Queensland]; Mr Robyn James (CEO, Pacific Film & Television Corp.); Mr Mike Lake (Exec. VP, Warners Village Roadshow)
The design of online, variously termed ‘flexible’ or ‘blended’ learning has been a feature research interest throughout my university career. I also had to build and establish academic cred., and in 2000 I completed a Doctor of Education (EdD) entitled New Learning: The Challenge of Flexible Delivery in Higher Education. Drawing on this work, and influenced by new millennia ‘web 2.0’, I subsequently developed podcasting platforms via Radio IMERSD and our role in Griffith iTunes-U.
Given my positive EdD experiences, I also lobbied for the creation of a professional doctorate-by research in music. In 2005, QCGU introduced the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA), these days bursting at seams with doctoral candidates researching aspects of their music.
Somewhat quizzically though, I sometimes reflect on the fact that while here and elsewhere in the arts higher education sector, we develop and assist some outstanding people to attaint their doctoral qualification though multi-exegetical thesis that incorporate creative products – it is much more problematic for academics to continue and be recognised for their own similar creative works. (see earlier 12 May 2010 blog entry, Monograph).
And this brings the story up to the present day: Since taking on the QCGU Deputy Director (Research) portfolio in 2009, this has most certainly allowed me considerable scope for refection(!) Steering an academic team and assuming responsibility for all QCGU RHD candidates in partnership with GGRS has provided me with a substantial ‘birds-eye view’ of complex viewpoints that I now deal with on a day-to-day basis.
This has allowed me to build on my past experience and to respond to the challenges of scaling, modifying, and/or refining my thinking. But also now, in terms of thinking about a research sabbatical (ASP, or Academic Studies Program as call it in Australia), something which I haven’t had the opportunity to engage with to date. I wonder if I can bring the musical past, the academic career and the future together in such a way that makes sense, that still serves my students and faculty well, but also allows me to rebuild some of my past music-making? A bit scary really – I have really ‘lived’ musicking for 15 years or so – that is, like a sports person needing the regular physical engagement: practicing, rehearsing, performing, composing.
We shall see. Next, I need to think about the instruments.