Master of music


Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

An alumna inspired by her experience with an Avondale vocal ensemble has this year become the first student to graduate with a Master of Arts (Research).

Music is an art, but it’s also a science with rules and regulations you have to understand to fully appreciate.

Melissa Rogers joined 300 other graduands who were eligible to march over graduation weekend at Avondale College of Higher Education, December 7-9. The 2009 graduate and former member of The Promise returned to study because “I missed growing as a musician.” She describes the skills she learnt performing with the ensemble as “probably the most useful in developing as a musician at college.” The experience also influenced her teaching—Melissa challenged students to reach “a higher level of their own musicianship.” The Promise is now a beneficiary—two former members of the Blue Hills College Octet, which Melissa formed, sing with the Avondale vocal ensemble.

Avondale’s first Master of Arts (Research) graduate Melissa Rogers with her supervisors Daniel Reynaud and Aleta King. [Photo courtesy: Colin Chuang]

Avondale is benefiting, too. Melissa’s thesis, “A reflective and quantitative investigation of relationships between aural dictation, sight singing, performance and composition skills,” shows music education is not a soft option, says associate supervisor and music stand convenor Aleta King. “Music is an art, but it’s also a science with rules and regulations you have to understand to fully appreciate.”

Melissa is one of 37 higher degree by research students, including 22 in the Doctor of Philosophy course, at Avondale this year. The community of scholarship they create enriches the Avondale experience, says Melissa’s principal supervisor and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Theology Associate Professor Daniel Reynaud. “This helps make research visible, achievable and desirable.”

Bachelor of Education graduates pose for a photo. [Photo courtesy: Colin Chuang]

Avondale recognised another academic achiever by announcing the third recipient of its most prestigious prize during Friday’s consecration service on the Sydney campus. Bachelor of Nursing student Shion Shironishi joined Bachelor of Arts student Josh Bolst and Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching student Karlie Fraser as winners of the $1500 Avondale Prize for Excellence.

Their classmates recognised the importance of service in the giving of the graduation class gift, which class co-president Emma Hanna announced during the consecration service on the Lake Macquarie campus. The class donated about $2000 to the Volunteers In Action ministry. As a more tangible example of its Matthew 7:20-based “By their fruits” theme, the class also planted a macadamia tree on the Lake Macquarie campus.

A time shift from afternoon to evening added a greater sense of occasion to the concert on Saturday. An Evening With J S Bach featured Avondale’s music and vocal ensembles presenting a selection of works, including the Magnificat, by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The main event: graduates, family and friends fill the Chan Shun Auditorium on Sunday, December 9. [Photo courtesy: Colin Chuang]

The hospitalisation of the wife of Dr Michael Spence prevented the vice-chancellor and principal of The University of Sydney and an ordained Anglican priest from presenting the graduation service address. Chair of the Avondale College Council, Dr Barry Oliver, spoke in his place. His advice to the graduands: go out into the world and show a quality of love that is irresistible. “It is the fruit of love that makes the difference.”