For Reservoir musician Andrea Keller, performing and teaching are the perfect career combination.
The 34-year-old professional composer and pianist has just released a new CD of her own quartet as well as lecturing in the specialist bachelor degree of Australian Popular Music at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT).
'The greatest thing about teaching is it inspires me to continue with my own learning that never ends,' Andrea said. 'I also draw inspiration from the students and NMIT's degree provides practical experience for musicians in what is a practical field.'
Andrea teaches piano to students for whom it is their principal instrument as well as aural and keyboard skills. NMIT's degree involves an intensive academic program with a strong practical component, and focuses on developing principal instrument skills to a professional level as well as learning to compose music in a students preferred style.
Andrea is well qualified to impart her knowledge and skills in piano playing and composition to her students as it was as a mere seven year-old that she first started striking the piano keys after nagging her parents for lessons.
Incredibly perhaps, even at that age, she knew she wanted to be a musician, and just four years later, was composing her own musical works in the classical tradition which she was learning.
She was also having flute lessons at school to complement her piano skills and her two minute composition called 'Wistful Wind' heralded bigger things to come.
Her new CD, called Little Claps, includes 10 tracks of contemporary jazz instrumental performed by her own band The Andrea Keller Quartet which has Andrea on piano, Eugene Ball on trumpet, Ian Whitehurst on tenor saxophone and Joe Talia on drums.
Andrea formed the quartet in 1999 and the CD was made possible with a $6,000 Arts Victoria grant for the composition and another $7,500 Australia Council for the Arts grant for the production of the CD.
'I composed the strong base of the music and then my fellow musicians and I workshopped it together. The music relies heavily on improvisation and detours into some traditional jazz styles from the past,' Andrea said.
But inspiration to compose isn't always there; indeed, there are times when Andrea has to force herself to sit down and create.
'I compose in bursts; sometimes I feel inspired to sit down and do it while at other times, it becomes like a job and I have to make myself do it.
'But once I start, the composition takes its own course and I'm driven by the satisfaction of it working.
Andrea, originally from Sydney, moved to Melbourne at 19-years-old to undertake study at the VCA. She has a degree in Music Improvisation and has played in various jazz clubs including Bennetts Lane , jazz festivals and also toured overseas to perform with her quartet.
While she was trained in classical music, she discovered jazz at the VCA during her degree studies but said her classical training was very significant as it gave her a great technical foundation to develop strong aural skills and musicianship.
“My music now is informed by all of my experiences including my classical background, but jazz is what I love.'
Her new CD is released by Jazzhead Records and is available at leading music retailers.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.