These ARE The Good Old Days

This last weekend I attended the Kennedy Awards, a New South Wales-based peer-awarded recognition of excellence in journalism, in the role of handbag to my journalist husband (who also happened to be nominated for, and go on to win, an award). Many stories were shared over the course of the night – events that had transpired behind the headlines, hair-raising exploits of reporters whose recklessness was matched by their journalistic brilliance. At some point in the evening, my husband noted that, for all the journalists in the room, these were ‘the good old days’ that would be recounted 20 years, 30 years, 50 years hence. From the premier undone by a bottle of wine through to disgraced former policemen being arrested for murder; from pervasively corrupt infrastructure deals involving Sydney’s water supply and regional mining leases through to politicians being handed paper bags of $10,000 cash just prior to elections; these are the good old days these journalists will look back on. This last weekend

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Top Classical 20th Century Pieces: ABC Classic FM Edition

Fabulous concept, fabulous consequences: you’re a radio station that broadcasts classical music exclusively and you ask your listeners to vote on their absolute favourite classical pieces from the 20th century. Each listener gets 10 votes and they can nominate whichever piece of music they fancy. The top 100 pieces are then broadcast over the space of a week, concluding with a concert featuring the top 5 pieces, live-broadcast to conclude the event. And since it’s 2011, the whole broadcast event comes replete with facebook discussions and a twitter hashtag. Go. The countdown began at number 100, naturally, and John Adam’s The Chairman Dances from Nixon in China seemed about right. But over the course of the next 10 or so entries things began to unravel. Schmaltzy and ersatz contributions were mixing it with works commonly regarded as masterworks, and straight-out film scores even got a look-in. We all knew this was a popularity contest, but even so it felt as if voters

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Piano Lessons for Life: Don’t Correct Mistakes

  One of the most profound life lessons I’ve learned as a piano teacher is to not correct mistakes. Correcting mistakes can take up whole piano lessons, whole terms of piano lessons, whole lifetimes of piano lessons. It’s no fun for the teacher, even less so for the student, and what’s more it simply doesn’t do any good. Correcting mistakes means that all the attention is drawn to what is being done wrong, rather than to what one should be aiming to do right. This is not a good tactic in improving performance (on the piano, on the tennis court, and keep extrapolating as suits your own activities); the performer’s focus is drawn inward to the mistake rather than outward to communicating clearly. But correcting mistakes is an easy habit to fall into. A what-not-to-do list looks like ‘instruction’, and is much simpler to compile than a strategy for success, and that’s because at the piano (as in life) it’s

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Piano Lessons for Life

Piano teaching has been a part of my life since birth (my mother resumed her at-home piano teaching when I was three weeks old) and a part of my professional existence since I was 14 and started giving lessons myself. Teaching at such a young age provided many lessons to me beyond the usual teenage job learning curve: I had to create invoices, prepare materials, plan learning sequences, discuss the progress of students with their parents, coordinate timetabling, engage in professional development, and so forth. This learning curve was much facilitated by teaching under the watchful eye of a mentor-mother, but even so, these are considerable responsibilities for someone who won’t be allowed to vote for another 4 years. The most challenging aspect of teaching as a 14 year old was, without doubt, talking with the parents. Fortunately my early students practised well enough, and everyone paid their fees on time, so two of the biggest piano teacher communication challenges

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What I did immediately after the opening night of ISCM 2010….

I ran as fast as my comfortable but still high-heel shoes could take me back to the [wickedly expensive] car park down the road from the Sydney Conservatorium. Another audience member was heading the same way, but as he was much lankier of leg than I, and unencumbered by impractical footwear, we made about the same progress, he no doubt wondering what was motivating the lunatic clickclacking her way down Macquarie St to be doing so quite so very hot on his heels. If he’d only known: I had to make it over to Dockside at Cockle Bay before the mains were served at the Walkley Press Freedom Dinner. The parking gods were on my side, and I powerwalked my way across one of Sydney’s least attractive pedestrian overpasses and through the usual crowd milling outside Chinta Ria, past the name tag desk out the front of Dockside (my handwritten name tag suggesting my husband had forgotten my name when

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What was wrong with last night’s ABC news (Sydney)

This is the complaint I’ve just sent off to the ABC about the ridiculous story they did about NSW politics last night….. I will update the blog if a response is forthcoming, and/or if the calibre of state political reporting suddenly improves. Leaving aside the dubious judgement involved in deciding the most important state political news of the day was that Kristina Kenneally objected to being winked at in parliament, the segue into the launch of a new education program by Verity Firth (commenting that the minister for education had a brush with trouble herself) demonstrated a complete absence of logic. This ‘brush with trouble’ was that some small twigs from an overhanging tree branch brushed Verity Firth’s hair as she entered a school ground. You have got to be kidding me. On the ABC? The story was simply untrue – Verity Firth had not had a ‘brush with trouble’ of any kind. Puerile reportage of this kind does nothing

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Spells trouble

So here in Australia, thanks to Senator Fielding, we now know that ‘fiscal’ has neither 3 syllables (as in physical) nor a K.  Turns out that Fielding has trouble with language thanks to a form of dyslexia that resulted in his achieving only 29 in his final high school English exams.  His other marks were exceptional (all in the 90s) so this is not an issue of intellect, but rather of a specific aptitude that Fielding lacks in regard to language skills. Fielding was addressing a media contingent a few days ago, and after he had referring several times to ‘physical policy’ one intrepid reporter inquired if he didn’t mean ‘fiscal policy’. Fielding replied “fiscal – F-I-S-K-A-L” to the collective surprise (and then delight) of everyone in the media who knew that’s not how you spell fiscal. So now we have people coming to Fielding’s defence, saying “leave the poor bloke alone, he can’t help it if he can’t spell”.

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Assorted media stupidities

A host of radio and tv shows said earlier this year that Australia could not sustain a Daily Show type program because all the journalists know each other too well, and even with the range of opinions various establishment media will give voice to, there just isn’t the diversity of views to create adequate fodder for an entertaining tv experience. I suspect he’s right on the first count, and that alone. The nightly news on any commercial tv station is filled with laughable vocabulary problems, most recently a Channel Nine reporter claiming that his sources (for a story that had proven to be completely erroneous) were ‘impeachable’. The reporter was shooting for ‘impeccable’ I’m guessing.  I still treasure the news I heard over the radio a few years ago that Aboriginal ancestors were performing welcoming ceremonies in the Botanic Gardens. Talkback hosts either don’t understand arithmetic, statistics, or both.  Recently I heard a talk show host announce that it would

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