Life at the Conservatorium – Rhoslyn Carney
A degree from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University can take you down many career paths. From Eurovision finalists Kate Miller-Heidke and Dami Im to Tim Davies, who orchestrated the music for La La Land and Frozen, many of the Conservatorium’s graduates have found remarkable success.
In this series we asked students from the Conservatorium to share their experiences at university. This week we are highlighting Rhoslyn Carney, Bachelor of Music student majoring in flute.
What is a regular day in the life at university for you?
A regular day at the Conservatorium is typically full of lessons, classes, workshops and rehearsals, so it can be difficult to find time to practise on busy days. I usually arrive early at about 8am to get in an hour or so of practice before class. It’s busy, but I like that there’s always something interesting going on at the Conservatorium – after a long day of practice or rehearsals it’s nice to unwind by attending one of the concerts that are on most weeks.
What do you love most about Queensland Conservatorium and why did you come here to study?
I came to Queensland Conservatorium to study with the great flautist and pedagogue, Virginia Taylor. She has been an incredible mentor to me, and an endless source of inspiration as a musician. I learn as much from her concerts as I do from her lessons – I think it’s so important for us to see our teachers perform, and the Conservatorium provides many opportunities for this. Ensemble Q’s concerts are particularly fantastic to watch, as they perform a wide and interesting variety of repertoire enlisting Australia’s leading musicians, many of whom are teachers at the Conservatorium.
Have there been any classes or specific teachers who have inspired you throughout your time here?
My favourite class so far would have to be 20th Century Modernism, taught by the esteemed Professor Stephen Emmerson. He brings so much life and passion to each lesson and is one of the most knowledgeable and insightful people I have encountered. This course has been such an important part of my musical education, exploring the close relationships between composers’ personal and historical contexts and how this ties in with their works.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
When I was still in high school, I won quite a few academic and musical awards which I was very proud of at the time. Since moving a long way away from home last year to pursue my musical passions, my ideas of achievement have shifted. For students and professionals alike, the world of classical music is a highly competitive environment and fixating on results can lead to a very narrow and negative mindset. These days I try to focus solely on my own progress, using recording techniques and feedback from my teachers and colleagues to compare aspects of my playing over time. I’m proud of myself when I’ve performed as the best version of myself on a particular day, knowing that tomorrow will be a new me and a new performance.
Which shows and performances have you taken part in both internally and externally?
Both this year and last year I have performed frequently with the Conservatorium Wind Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra, working with a variety of conductors and musicians on some fantastic repertoire. A particular highlight for me this year was performing Verdi’s Requiem in collaboration with Opera Australia on the Gold Coast. We played outdoors at the Home of the Arts amphitheatre in an atmospheric evening performance complete with pyrotechnics! The best part for me was having my mum in the audience, who flew up all the way from my hometown, Orange (NSW) to see the concert.
In addition to performing in large ensembles, I love working with my colleagues in student-based initiatives. In my chamber ensemble, a trio of flute, violin, and piano, I have the opportunity to work closely with fellow like-minded musicians and share our music with the broader community. This year I also had the honour of directing and playing in a work for the International Women’s Day concert run by Women of Noise, an organisation created by my friend and flute guru Phoebe Bognár. The concert was a great success, and it was uplifting to see everyone’s hard work pay off.
A good question! I’ve always been musical – my parents started giving me piano lessons at age 5 because I was very jealous of my elder sister and would interrupt her practice to tinkle at the keys (I was a fiendish toddler). I wasn’t particularly gifted at the piano however, in spite of my wonderful teacher’s best efforts, and I somehow managed to fail my 1st grade piano exam! I continued to have lessons right up until I graduated high school, and my teacher, Anne Stevens, was instrumental in my development as a musician. When I was 8 years old I decided to enter my school’s band program. My friend’s mother, who was the music teacher at the school, handed me a flute and I got a note out on the first blow! That was the beginning of my journey with the flute.
What are you doing once you graduate the Conservatorium?
I think I’d like to study overseas – I lived in Italy for a year, studying with various flute teachers and pedagogues there, and I would love to return someday. I’ve always had a keen passion for languages, so I am thrilled by the idea of moving somewhere to study music and learn the language. That’s the best part about studying music – it can take you anywhere as long as you’re willing to go. I’ve never really had a set plan for my life, but I keep my horizons broad and consider every opportunity carefully. This mindset has got me to where I am today, and I’ve never looked back.
Study at the Queensland Conservatorium, one of Australia’s leading music and performing arts schools.
For more information on concerts at the Conservatorium, visit queenslandconservatorium.com.au