About Gillian Howell
I am a musician and educator, and a strong advocate for the inclusion of composition and improvisation in music education. I devise and lead music collaborations with diverse groups across Australia and overseas.
There are three specialised strands to my work – workshop leadership with professional orchestras (I’ve taken orchestral musicians into schools, hospitals, prisons, festivals); workshop residencies in post-conflict countries (such as Timor-Leste, Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Republic of Georgia, as part of a pycho-social support program), and with newly-arrived refugee and immigrant young people in Australia; and large-scale participatory music events.
- Music should be an active experience, rather than a passive one
- Music draws us into powerful connections with others
- Music learners need opportunities to create and perform their own music, because in doing so, they develop far deeper insights into the language of music and its possibilities, a sense of ownership over their music experiences and choices, greater personal satisfaction and delight, and deeper connections with their fellow musicians.
- Music notation is an incredibly useful tool, but knowledge of it shouldn’t come before music-making experiences, and lack of knowledge needn’t be a barrier to participation.
- Creative music-making (actively inventing, making, doing, composing, improvising,) is often the missing ingredient in many people’s music experiences.
In between short-term projects with orchestras and community groups, I teach in primary schools and tertiary institutions. I’m also a researcher, publishing regularly in international journals on topics such as the music perceptions of newly-arrived refugee and immigrant children, and working as a community musician in cross-cultural contexts, such as my work in Timor-Leste (East Timor) in 2010-11.
More on my website: www.gillianhowell.com.au
About the Music Work blog
Music Work started as a reflective tool for my Masters research in 2007. Early posts were focused on the links between English language learning and music, and the role that music can play in supporting settlement processes for young refugees.
More recently, the blog was my primary journal and written documentation of my Asialink artist residency in Timor-Leste (filed under ‘Timor’).
These days, it is the place where I share reflections about the different projects I lead, workshop ideas and strategies that may be of interest to other music educators, and documentation (photos, video, audio) of recent events. Throughout, the focus remains squarely on the importance of creativity and invention in music education and music experiences.