Ara Music Arts tutors shine at Chinese jazz festival

News News & events

20 Oct 2016

singing stage

Ara Singing tutor Kate Taylor performing at the conservatory

An Ara Music Arts delegation has just returned from the first ever jazz festival at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in China.

The team, consisting of Creative Industries Head of Department Tom Rainey and tutors Kate Taylor, Gwyn Reynolds and Scott Taitoko, was invited to take part in their jazz festival following a visit to Ara last year by programme leader LV Yan who teaches jazz at the conservatory.

“The Sichuan Conservatory of Music started a brand new jazz programme and held a jazz festival to celebrate. We were invited to do workshops and talks at the event,” Ara Music Arts programme leader Gwyn Reynolds said.

The Ara staff delivered eight teaching sessions for groups of between 20 and 300 students and staff.

“Having the opportunity to present at the Sichuan Conservatory gave us the chance to share our well-honed approach to jazz pedagogy developed over many years. Presenting across a range of topics from improvisation to vocal technique, the conservatory staff and students were impressed both by the expertise of our teachers, and the inclusive and enabling Kiwi teaching style,” Rainey said.

“The trip was really intense, but also eye opening in terms of how Chinese society works. The hospitality was amazing and the Conservatory has heavy weight musicians and some really good players. Their staff are very talented,” Reynolds added.

Tom Rainey piano

Head of Department Tom Rainey playing piano at the conservatory

Ara Institute of Canterbury established relationships with the conservatory almost 18 months ago and enhanced and progressed these with the recent visit. The Ara Music Department presented a package available to the conservatory students for a two week Christchurch study tour in January 2017.  

“This tour, which includes the opportunity to study English and music, culminates in the All Ears programme – an innovative ear based approach to teaching jazz being offered at Ara for the first time. Combining learning with opportunities to partake in tourism during New Zealand’s peak of the tourism season, there was a lot of interest from Sichuan Conservatory students and staff for this study tour,” Rainey said.

10 to 20 students have already shown interest in the study tour. The Ara City Campus is also welcoming two students from the conservatory this week. The two will first study English and then commence postgraduate honours study at Ara.

To find out more about the All Ears workshop in January go to:

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