Forty Plus Membership Reflection
by Helen Lovass (VMTA Member)
Forty plus years and the metronome still ticks beats to the minute, be it a mechanical pendulum, electronic or my Steinway app!
Much has changed since I first joined the VMTA. The world has become more accessible than Europe was for composers and musicians 2-3 centuries ago. IT and media are constant in our lives. Applied technological improvements have changed traditional instruments and musical access; digital scores can be delivered at the click of a button; songs can be transposed and music printed instantly; any amount of information can be Googled; music libraries can be searched and YouTube explored.
But much has not changed. You can't download a week's worth of practice in a minute; you can't download an ability to write lyrical melodies, harmonize exercises with specified vocabulary or instantly acquire aural skills. You can’t download an ability to perform and you can’t download musical flair! There is no replacement for the art of teaching. Lessons filled with a personal rapport that one builds with each student, learning to manage challenging workloads, personal encouragement and rewards for work well done. You can’t achieve technical facility or integrated knowledge at the click of a button; there is no easy way to achieve vocal control without mastering breathing technique and no such thing as performing a Bach Prelude and Fugue, or Rachmaninoff Concerto without fundamental musical understanding, a great deal of sensible practice, development of interpretive skills and much else. Balancing shifts in learning paths with traditional methods is essential. Whilst resources may have changed, personal application, self discipline and accumulation of knowledge are still key to aspirational goals.
I feel privileged to have had a full and rewarding career in music and education. Growing up in country Victoria, it was not easy to access quality music education, so it was fortunate that from boarding school to university I had access to a range of opportunities. I seemed to be a capable musician but always, my calling was to be an educator. Tours with AUFCM (Australian Universities Festival Choir) and Chorale gave me a taste for travel. Leadership as Director of Music at St Catherine’s School for 22 years, was preceded by positions in classroom teaching at MLC and the Education Department. Appointments as Examiner with the AMEB and VCE gave first hand insights into assessment process and procedures.
Although ever consuming, music has never been my 24/7. I can’t live without my needle and thread and creative design. I love to potter in the garden and enjoy regular travel to Europe, USA and beyond. In my studio, I continue to encourage independence and self assurance and to mentor and guide students as they acquire skills, insight and knowledge.