Anna van Veldhuisen (2008)

Queen’s means community, friends, and fun, getting out of your comfort zone and giving things a crack. And a few turns and corridor crawls along the way, as well. So many of the friendships I built in College remain some of my closest friendships today. In fact, I’m travelling to Germany later in the year to catch up with two mates from College who now live in Munich.

The leadership and musical opportunities provided by MADS productions were so important to my development as a musician – my work as MD in College productions of Imaginary Invalid (2008) and Cabaret (2009) in particular were my first experiences of conducting – skills I now use every day. More broadly, living at Queen’s built my confidence as a young person and helped me get settled into life in Melbourne.

The music education and classical music sectors have made big strides even in the 15 years since I left College in terms of the visibility and promotion of diverse composers, particularly First Nations and women composers. When I was at uni, hearing music by a woman composer was still a fairly novel thing. Just turn on Classic FM today and you will be surprised by the diversity of programming, which is fantastic – but there is still work to be done; according to a recent Living Music Report, Australia’s major orchestras play more music written in 1723 than they do music by women. Similarly, music education as a sector in Australia still has issues with equitability of access – not all schools in Australia have music programs, and music education is expensive and inaccessible to many, though we know its benefits are vast for children’s wellbeing and academic outcomes.

I am a teacher at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar teaching classroom music and conducting choirs. I’ve worked in vastly different teaching contexts over the last decade or so since I started teaching – in private, alternative, and state schools across Victoria. I love teaching music to secondary aged students, something I didn’t initially see as a pathway when I was undertaking my B.Mus whilst living at Queen’s, but I’m so glad I went back to uni to study education (Dip Ed at Deakin, and then a MEd at Uni Melb). Moving into the classroom is so rewarding; every day is different and filled with laughs and singing, concerts and tours, camps and musical adventures. I also regularly work with other music teachers in a professional development capacity through organisations such as Kodaly Victoria (I am state Vice-President), and present at conferences around Australia and internationally regarding classroom music pedagogy and curriculum. I’m in the final year of a doctorate at MGSE at the moment, investigating music teachers’ professional learning.

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