From fairy frock to tea towel...and thanks for the Land Rover!

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Mitchell, A 2016, 'From fairy frock to tea towel...and thanks for the Land Rover! ', in EKM Chong (ed.), Proceedings of the 21st International Seminar of the ISME Commission on Special the Education of the Professional Musician, Fife, Scotland, UK, 20-23 July, International Society for Music Education, Melbourne, Vic. ISBN: 9780994205582

Available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed



This paper reports on a research project entitled Conducting, musical direction and performance in community music ensembles and their influence on pedagogy. The project aims to investigate methods and identify best practices of leadership, conducting and musical direction employed in community music ensembles. It also aims to evaluate the benefits of participation in community music ensembles, particularly how that influence musicians’ performance and their music teaching practices. This research project studies three community orchestras and one big band, of which I am, or have recently been, a member. The research employs multiple qualitative methods: interviews with the conductor/musical director of each ensemble, surveys of musicians in each ensemble through a questionnaire, and focus group discussions with the students of a third year university Ensemble Direction and Arranging subject I teach. Case study observation has also been conducted during my participation as double bassist or pianist in each concert series, and reported through evocative narrative autoethnography. Implications for music education include increased awareness and understanding of the influence of community music participation on music teaching and the integration of good musical direction and performance practices into pedagogy. The research findings will inform university music and music/education curricula and can be applied to implement effective teaching strategies in the development of vocational skills of musical leadership, conducting, musical direction and ensemble performance. This should facilitate the transition for graduates into professionals like secondary school teachers, conductors of community music ensembles and musical directors of their own bands.