Nicholas Bannan tends not to separate his work from pleasure in his different creative roles in the Conservatorium of Music. As a Senior Lecturer in one of Australia’s leading music schools, Nicholas designs and oversees the units in the postgraduate music courses at UWA.
“In my role I also supervise students studying the Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. It is fascinating to see the projects that students undertake, and to observe the amazing musicality of different individuals,” says Nicholas.
Helping the Conservatorium of Music grow substantially since he first came to UWA in 2006, Nicholas has worked on a number of new projects to develop and spread the University’s musical offerings across campus. The formation of new broadening units has seen large numbers of students taking part in music-based units.
“It is great to see so many students pursuing broadening units in music, particularly those who may not have ever been exposed to a music course in high school,” says Nicholas.
He is particularly proud of the work that the Winthrop Singers of UWA have done since creating the elite chamber choir in 2007.
“The choir has released four CDs and toured extensively across Western Australia and into Singapore and Beijing. Many of these singers have gone on to join choirs or to careers in music all over the world, and cite being a member of the Winthrop Singers as the key foundation for their careers,” he says.
Being involved in the creative arts, Nicholas finds it incredibly rewarding to hear the compositions of students that he has taught, and to see their growth as musicians.
“Helping students to overcome their inhibitions and give them the capacity to demonstrate their talents is heartwarming. I aim to assist students in unleashing their creative potential and exhibiting their skills. This is something that is inspiring to me in my own work, and constantly sharpens my understanding of how students learn,” says Nicholas.
In addition to his work with the University, Nicholas has also been working on two books entitled ‘Every Child a Composer’ and ‘First Instruments’ respectively. Both of these concern the evolutionary role of music and its relationship to the development of language in human beings. The latter of the two in particular explores the idea that the basis of musical learning is in one’s own voice.
Both of these concern the evolutionary role of music and its relationship to the development of language in human beings. The latter of the two in particular explores the idea that the basis of musical learning is in one’s own voice.
“There has been little work done in terms of justifying why we should be teaching and advocating music in schools in relation to the evolutionary approach to music and human development. These books are aimed at addressing this gap in the literature,” says Nicholas.
Outside of work, Nicholas enjoys attending the theatre, travelling, and observing other cultures and different artistic practices. Recently, he has been looking at formal approaches to Australian Aboriginal music making.
“In combination with allowing a place for Indigenous languages in education, we should push for a greater understanding in Indigenous music as this is directly related to why music matters so much to all of us.
“There is much to learn from Indigenous music making, and we need to rediscover the instinctive attributes of human musical ability in the times to come,” says Nicholas.