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Tallis Room
10:00am - 10:30am, Sunday 29 July, 2018


When I first started teaching, I taught individual students what I thought they wanted to learn. This didn’t result in particularly good retention or high skill level. Over time I have developed strategies to motivate students, teach them good fundamentals, and provide them with the most efficient path to success. My presentation will centre on strategies you can employ to get the most out of your students in their lessons, get them to start practising, and most importantly, instil a life-long love of music.

This session will cover topics such as how to set-up beginners, structure individual lessons, sequence lessons, setting goals for students, motivating students, and getting students to enrol in VCE music performance. I will also talk about how to balance teaching jazz and classical music and the pedagogy and processes that I go through to do this. I have spent a lot of time creating a system which promotes excellence and retains students, teaching becomes much easier, and I want to share the ways in which I have achieved this so that you can too.

Ben Nieuwkerk is a versatile musician and educator. He has performed across a wide range of genres highlighted by performances at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival with Aaron Goldberg (USA), Falls Festival with Copperhead Brass Band (2017) and the Low Down Big Band (2015), X-Factor Star Dean Ray, and The Monash Academy Orchestra. Ben is the musical director of big band the High Street Screamers, and an alto saxophonist in Copperhead Brass band. Previously, be was the musical director of The Low Down Big Band and has developed his own musical identity through performing free improvisation with The Tropea Project, and his own group “Ben Nieuwkerk’s Strange Awakening.” He has recently studied contemporary classical clarinet with Dr Brigid Burke with the aim of developing a more sophisticated understanding of contemporary improvisational languages. Ben undertook formal music educated at Monash University which included studying jazz in Italy with prominent Italian musicians and his education culminated in being mentored by Steve Sedergreen in composition and improvisation.

As an educator, Ben has taught saxophone, clarinet and flute at many independent schools in Melbourne. Currently, he is teaching at Siena College as a classroom music teacher, ensemble director and instrumental teacher. Ben’s draws on his professional experience as a performer to inform his teaching practice as well as his experience as an educator.