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Helen Stowasser : Associate Artist

I firmly believe that music teaching in schools needs to be more student-centred and intrinsically motivating.

Random Audio Sample: Valse volante : trio for flute, clarinet & piano by Helen Stowasser, from the CD Works by various composers

Photo of Helen Stowasser

Photo: Michael Stowasser

Helen Stowasser was born and educated in England, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Music at Cambridge University in 1954. She emigrated to Australia with her husband and three sons in 1967, and in 1971 obtained her Diploma in Teaching at Kelvin Grove Teachers' College in Brisbane. In 1973 she received her MA from Cambridge University and in 1983 was awarded a PhD at the University of Queensland for her dissertation entitled The Development of Music Education in Queensland Secondary Schools. She became an Australian citizen in 1984.

Throughout her education, composition and arranging were always her favourite musical activities, starting with piano pieces and choral compositions at school, and chamber music and choral arrangements while at Cambridge.

After teaching at a State High School in Brisbane for six years, she was appointed Tutor in Music at the University of Queensland in 1978. She became Lecturer (1982), later Senior Lecturer (1985) in Academic Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium and, from 1989 until her retirement in 1998, held the position of Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Western Australia. In 2014 she was appointed as Adjunct Research Fellow at the Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University.

Her researches centred around curriculum development in music education at both secondary and tertiary level, and she has served on Syllabus Committees and examining panels in both Queensland and Western Australia in her quest to develop more creative, integrated, student-centred and broadly based music programs in secondary schools.

Towards this end she has also conducted numerous workshops for music teachers at all levels of education throughout Australia, in England, Singapore, and the USA, stressing the need for composition as an essential component of a well-balanced program and the need to regard the teachers' role as initiators of creative music-making in which the pursuit of excellence is intrinsic. In October, 2006, she was invited to give a lecture/workshop to third-year music education students at Southern Cross University, focusing on intrinsic motivational strategies and the integration of aural, writing techniques and performing at senior high school level.

Helen Stowasser has presented papers in Australia, America, England, Hong Kong and Singapore, and has published articles in journals such as the International Journal of Music Education, Sounds Australian, Research Studies in Music Education and Stringendo. Since her retirement she has successfully supervised six PhD students enrolled at the Universities of Queensland and Western Australia.

She is author of the Discover Music series and Discover Music-Making, and has specialised in compositions and arrangements for school ensembles such as String Quartet in D, Valse Volante, and Swingsongs. String Things, completed in 2001, consists of a series of chamber music pieces for beginner string players and all but two of the pieces are presented in several different combinations of instruments. String Things have been enthusiastically trialled by young music students in a Brisbane school. Orpheus Music published six of the String Things in August, 2009, three for violin, viola and cello, and three for violin, viola and two cellos.

In June, 2009 Helen Stowasser was commissioned to write a Sonatina for flute, clarinet and piano by the Power of Three Trio which was completed in August 2009. She has also composed a set of five duets for clarinet students at around Grade 4 level, commissioned by Deborah de Graaff. These were finished in September, 2009. 'Legend' from Flutesongs continues to be a popular piece for AMEB Grade 4 flute. In 2009 a clarinet part was added to 'Legend' by Deborah de Graaff so that it and Valse Volante could be performed at concerts given by The Power of Three.

Biography provided by the composer — current to October 2014

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Sonatina : for flute, clarinet and piano (2009) Commissioned by Power of Three.

Analysis & Media

Book: Revelations of a rebel : autobiography / Helen Stowasser.