Robyn Bradley is one of NECOM’s tireless piano accompanists. She has been recognised for her services to music in the wider community when she recently received an Order of Australia Medal. This month we decided to turn the spotlight onto Robyn to tell us more about what she does.
Tell us about your musical background
I first started learning the piano while at primary school in New Zealand, living at an agricultural college on the Canterbury Plains.
I was very lucky to go to one of the best piano teachers in NZ and through her studio, I started playing duets, duos, chamber music and playing in the Christchurch Competitions. Back in Australia, I did my A.Mus.A while in Year 11.
How did you become a teacher/accompanist/OAM/all-around amazing person?
When I left school I did two science degrees. However later when I was home with small children the musical urge resurfaced and I started having piano lessons with Robyn Driscoll. She is a wonderful teacher and steered me expertly through my L.Mus.A. I followed that up with a music degree through USQ.
After that I started teaching piano and doing some accompaniment; now accompaniment takes most of my time. For the past 25 years, I have also been involved with various community groups such as ADMS (acting as repetiteur for many musical productions such as Sweeney Todd and Les Miserables), Armidale Choral Society, singing in the chamber choir Fiori Musicali and being a founding member of Opera New England. I have had a wonderful time and have made lifelong friends.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love the musical diversity. One minute I’m playing Shostakovich with an HSC Music 2 viola player, the next it’s musical theatre with a singer or a baroque piece with a cellist. Trying to play stylistically correctly with so many different genres really keeps me on my toes.
What’s the best part about being involved at NECOM?
The variety. I play for the wonderful choir New England Singers, for studio concerts, for one on one accompaniment lessons with beginners, for workshops and master classes. And I really enjoy working with the wonderful NECOM music teachers.
What would be your best piece of advice for young students?
Work on your sight reading! If you can only play the three pieces you’re learning for your exam, it’s a bit like having one leg nailed to the floor, musically speaking. But if you can bravely have a go at other pieces (even if you only get some of the notes right) you will soon become a very useful person. Just find a piece you don’t know and attempt a few bars, every day.