Thursday, July 21, 2011


This tour was my first major tour of Australia since the late 1980s (if memory serves me right) and was arranged by Hal Leonard Australia. They distribute Microjazz and all other Boosey & Hawkers products) as well as the Frederick Harris Connections series, as well as American Popular Piano. The tour was called, appropriately, “Beyond Microjazz”.

Unusually for me, I had a co-presenter on this tour, Elissa Milne ( Elissa is a leading educational composer in Australia, published by Faber Music in the UK and a regular presenter for Hal Leonard in Australia. She is a dynamic presenter and a talented performer and it was a great pleasure to be in a double-act with her.

1. Rockhampton, 11th July 2011

We started the tour in Rockhampton, a city in Queensland, north of Brisbane. It was held at Green Brothers, a well-established music store in the city. This session was unusual in that we had keyboards for most of the teachers to share, so they were able to play along when I got onto the improvisation section of the presentation.

Don’t they look happy?

The presentation consisted of an introductory interview of me by Elissa, along the lines of “what have you been doing since you were last here?” and I then ran through recent (ie post-1990) Boosey & Hawkes publications before doing a presentation on American Popular Piano, ending with improvisation for everyone. In the second part, Elissa ran through the excellent new publications from Hal Leonard Australia - "Getting to Grade Two" and "Getting to Grade Three" ( before I wrapped up proceedings with a whisk through Connections. The teachers found it all interesting and stimulating, at least according to the feedback sheets!

I also did a masterclass with local students, which was very enjoyable. One young performer played and after the masterclass asked for a photo. I did a double-take:

I was amazed to see my photo in the window of the shop, taken at the MTNA in Denver in 2009. And in 2010 the hosts of the event had flown David and Lesley Gereghty from Recreational Music center in San Diego to work with students – I did an event with Lesley and David in San Diego last year (see the blog archive again) Small world…

2. Brisbane 12th July 2011

This event was held at the AMEB (Australian Music Education Board) in Brisbane – see The interest in the event was sufficient to warrant a repeat of the presentation and enthusiasm and excitement from the audience were high at both presentations. Sales were also strong – here are some happy buyers after the first presentation:

There were some younger teachers at the second presentation, who were full of questions and positively buzzing (Elissa on the far right):

3.Melbourne 13th July 2011
The Melbourne workshop was held at Pat’s Music in Oakleigh and was packed. Again, enthusiasm was high and the whole presentation was regarded as both entertaining and informative. As I always do, I used an audience member to help me with improvisation and the picture below is my “student” after she did her unexpected public performance:

In the afternoon, I did a very enjoyable masterclass with students at a local Yamaha music school. This went very well – I’m always pleased to work with students as well as doing teacher presentations. Here are 2 of my delightful young students:

4. Sydney 14th July 2011

The Sydney workshop was held upstairs at Music on the Move, the dealer who supplied music at Wagga Wagga. At this point I should pay tribute to the great work done by Gina Wake, the Hal Leonard Australia organizer of the tour, who was always alert to the needs of her demanding co-presenters and was always cheerful and positive. Here she is with John from Music on the Move:

The Sydney session was repeated and both audiences were really excited by the material. Here is a cross-section of one of the audiences:

All of the audiences on this mini-tour were pleased to hear that this was a taster for a bigger tour in January, involving day workshops and some days with students. I am very much looking forward to seeing many of these new Australian friends again in 2012 – it was heart-warming and humbling to hear the difference that Microjazz made to teachers in the 1980s and I hope that equally dramatic results will flow from the use of the new material in 2011.

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