The Australian Strings Association (AUSTA) is a professional association of players and makers of bowed string instruments which promotes excellence in all aspects of performance, teaching, conducting and string instrument making. AUSTA aims to inspire and support students, amateurs and professionals and also to facilitate communication at local, national and international levels.

AUSTA is a very active member of the CISTA partnership of string associations worldwide. With members throughout Australia and a small international data base we present conferences, workshops and promote goods and services for string players throughout the country. As an information service we work closely with other music associations, the schools and universities, chamber music promoters and symphony


  • Donald Hazelwood OBE AO
  • Eduard Melkus
  • Sheila Nelson
  • Elizabeth Morgan AM
  • Graham Wood OAM
  • John Curro AM MBE
  • Richard Gill OAM
  • 2015 Annual General Meeting
    array(24) { ["ID"]=> int(1463) ["post_author"]=> string(2) "67" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 17:57:48" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 07:57:48" ["post_content"]=> string(161) "The 2015 Annual General Meeting for The Australian Strings Association Limited will be held on Wednesday November 25th at 8:30 pm Australian Eastern Summer Time." ["post_title"]=> string(27) "2015 Annual General Meeting" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(27) "2015-annual-general-meeting" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 18:02:48" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 08:02:48" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(31) "http://www.austa.asn.au/?p=1463" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }
  • Password and Log in problems?
    array(24) { ["ID"]=> int(1459) ["post_author"]=> string(2) "67" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 17:34:48" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 07:34:48" ["post_content"]=> string(258) "We have had a few people report that they are having difficulty logging in and/or resetting their passwords. We are working on resolving the issue, meanwhile, if you are having problems please email admin@austa.asn.au to have your password reset manually." ["post_title"]=> string(29) "Password and Log in problems?" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(28) "password-and-log-in-problems" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 17:36:07" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-09-24 07:36:07" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(31) "http://www.austa.asn.au/?p=1459" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }
  • Robert Pikler Remembered
    array(24) { ["ID"]=> int(1164) ["post_author"]=> string(2) "67" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2015-05-12 15:37:48" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-05-12 05:37:48" ["post_content"]=> string(5708) "I was fortunate to be a student at the NSW Conservatorium of Music in the mid 1960s when the Sydney String Quartet was formed .Robert Pikler had just resigned from his position as Principal Viola in the Sydney Symphony to play viola in this new group, and he became Senior Lecturer of Violin and Viola and conductor of the Senior Students’ Orchestra at the Con. So began the chance for a generation of young players to be taught and mentored by one of Australia’s most distinguished musicians. As Rohan Smith, a fellow-student observed, “Robert Pikler was the overwhelming formative musical and human influence of our lives.” (see his tribute on page 10). Anne-Louise Comerford, my colleague in the Sydney Symphony, and one of Mr Pikler’s last students, recalls going on two tours to South East Asia with the Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra which he conducted. Many of his students went on to careers as conductors, concertmasters, orchestral musicians, chamber musicians and music educators in Australia and internationally. She reflects that he imparted a love of music, and even when he demanded students to “do it my way!” his kind and generous personality came through. He would demonstrate his beautiful sound for the student to copy. The Canberra-based violinist and teacher Gillian Bailey came to one of my lessons to rehearse a Mozart Duo to play at Music Camp. This taste of what Mr. Pikler had to offer led to an amazing learning experience as she went on to study with him for four years. I asked Gillian what she had learnt. “Most of the time we concentrated on the bow arm, shifting and vibrato, using the whole bow and clinging, playing into the string and trying to make a bigger sound which never seemed to be loud enough for him. His shifting ideas stay with me to this day and I try to impart his idea of feeling the positions (in the palm of the hand) to all my students. His fingering ideas were a revelation and I learned to’ brave’ 2nd and 4th positions!” Always fascinated by how he managed all technical skills so easily, Gillian would ‘pick’ his brains and he would say ‘Oh, you want to learn how to do that? OK’, and off we would go”. She remembers him as a quiet, gentle man who had suffered a great deal but was very giving and not bitter. Gillian Catlow spent 20 years playing in European orchestras and is now a freelance violinist in WA. She recalls her first encounter with Mr Pikler at the May Music Camp at Sydney in 1968. “I was 13, and the youngest player. I instantly fell in love with him and Schubert’s Unfinished and on the last day, screwed up my courage and asked if I could play for him. He listened to me, and said, ‘I think you’d better come to me.’ So I did”. Gillian was determined to make the violin her life; she just wanted to practice all the time. She remembers working on expressive tone colours and rubatos in the Bartók Rumanian Dances and her music is still marked in the red felt pen that he habitually used. She recalls the day there was a knock on his studio door, and a young Cho-liang Lin arrived with his father and uncle from Taiwan to commence lessons with Mr Pikler. With a big smile he said, “Just call me Jimmy”. The transformation of his talent in the next months was phenomenal. A highlight for Gillian was the chance to play the Leclair and Bartók duos with Jimmy for a Young Australia broadcast. Elizabeth Holowell is currently Senior Lecturer in violin at the University of Auckland NZ, and was one of his youngest students at 11 years old. Mr Pikler firmly believed that technique must be built by the magical age of 16. Initially she worked through all the Bloch books of scales, double stop exercises and studies, and every single Kreutzer study. At the Conservatorium High School he would appear at her classroom door when he had a spare hour or two and with the blessing of the headmistress Betsy Brown, would take her out of class for extra practice. Elizabeth is very aware of the rich musical heritage she gained through Robert Pikler; as a boy he had studied violin in Budapest with Eugene Ormandy and Jenö Hubay, and at age 16 studied with Jacques Thibaud in Paris. Pikler became a well known soloist in Europe and undertook concert tours in India and Indonesia before WW2. Perhaps the violinist Antoni Bonetti, conductor of the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra sums up Pikler’s contribution to Australian musical life when he says, “Robert was a musician’s musician, instinctively and intuitively knowing how to shape a phrase, colour a passage and ‘bend’ a bar. Technique was not an issue; he was a natural. There was nothing he could not play. Students were taught how to play expressively and were encouraged to paint their music making with their own feelings and emotions”. Mr Pikler’s viola was made for him in 1952 by the Australian luthier A.E.Smith, and I have been privileged to own and play it for the past 16 years. Robert Pikler can be heard playing the Alfred Hill Viola Concerto with the SSO conducted by Sir Bernard Heinze on YouTube. I am grateful to the musicians mentioned above for their insights and recollections. R.B.
      Robyn Brookfield plays viola in the Sydney Symphony and teaches violin and viola from beginner to diploma level. She is a regular viola mentor with the SSO Education Program and with Playerlink which gives orchestral opportunities to school children in regional NSW. " ["post_title"]=> string(24) "Robert Pikler Remembered" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(24) "robert-pikler-remembered" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2015-07-01 17:18:37" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-07-01 07:18:37" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(31) "http://www.austa.asn.au/?p=1164" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }
  • Great Violists of Yesteryear
    array(24) { ["ID"]=> int(1161) ["post_author"]=> string(2) "67" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2015-05-12 15:36:35" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-05-12 05:36:35" ["post_content"]=> string(5010) "The short answer? Lionel Tertis, William Primrose and Nicolo Paganini. Tertis was and still is the anointed, British-appointed ‘father of the viola’ in the early 1900s. His status as the pre-eminent inspiration for modern larger-scale violas, the so-called Tertis Model, deserves to be challenged and tempered by noting the earlier Viola Alta of the late 19th century German player-teacher Herman Ritter. Tertis’ stature as the first finest violist of the viola’s golden age, the 20th century, should be balanced by knowing of the achievements of another German, Michael Balling, a student of Ritter and principal viola for Wagner in Bayreuth c.1890. Research by New Zealand violist Donald Maurice notes that Balling was c.1894-96 founding director of the School of Music in Nelson, NZ, and perhaps a brief visitor to Australian shores. Balling returned to a European career, largely in England, conducting the Hallé Orchestra and performing viola recitals in London in late 1896 - the year Tertis only took up the viola. Precursor to Balling and Tertis was the Czech violist Oskar Nedbal, judged by Carl Flesch in his Memoirs as ‘a giant of the viola’, ‘... as ‘hearing real viola playing for the first time’. Nedbal performed viola recitals in Europe in the early 1890s but made his London début as a quartet violist in 1897. Other violists in recordings re-issued by Pearl include Maurice Vieux, the composers Rebecca Clarke and Paul Hindemith; arranger/editors Henri Casadesus, Vadim Borisovsky, William Lincer, Watson Forbes and others; Walter Trampler, Cecil Aronowitz, Paul Doktor, known to my generation of the LP era. Their greatness is assessable through their recordings. Other early violists, Ritter and Balling amongst them, apparently not recorded, cannot be so assessed. Primrose is unanimously included in any list, not just violists’, as one of the great players of the modern age. Primrose’s brief, largely unappreciated (both then and since) presence in Australia in the 1970s has been compensated at least in part by violinist Richard Tognetti, leader/director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, who continues to list Primrose as one of his teachers. More challenging is assessment of greatness in the pre-recording era. Modern-day listing of great composers (J.S.Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Dvořák) as violists is easy, but how good were they? Seemingly not good enough to warrant contemporaneous acclamation. Certainly their compositions suggest empathy for the sound and spirit of the viola. By compositional indicators the list of early ‘greats’ should also include violists Johann Stamitz, his sons Anton and Karl, all of whom wrote worthwhile viola works. There existed no more prolific composer for viola than the Italian Mozart-contemporary Antonio Rolla whose longevity was matched by his productivity. His works for solo viola, viola in duo combinations and close to twenty viola concertos are increasingly available in modern published editions from Gems Music. Unlikely to warrant a ‘Rolla in Roma’ festival the works do offer pleasurable playing and pedagogical potential. Some of the great composing violinists of the 19th century also played viola. Nicolo Paganini’s Grand Sonata and a Terzetto for viola, cello and guitar, Henri Vieuxtemps’ unaccompanied Capriccio and his incomplete Sonata Opus 36 with piano, Joseph Joachim’s Hebrew Melodies and Variations, Wieniawski’s Reverie, all originally for viola and piano, are evidence that they knew and probably played the instrument well. Australia’s past leading violists have included Alfred Hill, perennial violist of Sydney Conservatorium string quartets in the 1920s-40s; Ernest Llewellyn, a violist long before his years as concertmaster of the Sydney Symphony; Richard Goldner, the founder of Musica Viva; certainly Robert Pikler in his Sydney Symphony and Sydney String Quartet roles; others like the Czech, briefly Brisbane-based Jaroslav Karlovsky and the English, long-time Melbourne-resident John Glickman, before their return to foreign shores, plus two of my favourites, Peter Pfuhl, retired from Sydney to live now south of Perth and the late Winifred Durie. I hope my list prompts responses about others’ favourites." ["post_title"]=> string(28) "Great Violists of Yesteryear" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(28) "great-violists-of-yesteryear" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2015-07-01 17:18:37" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-07-01 07:18:37" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(31) "http://www.austa.asn.au/?p=1161" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }
  • Teaching Aids in the 21st Century Music Studio
    array(24) { ["ID"]=> int(1146) ["post_author"]=> string(2) "67" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2015-05-12 15:32:19" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-05-12 05:32:19" ["post_content"]=> string(9451) "Any study of educational psychology will show that students learn in a variety of ways: aurally, visually, kinetically, by observation and imitation and in play situations. Long gone are the days when children learnt simply by a teacher ‘instructing’ them and the child dutifully learning (or not), by copying or reciting for hours on end. Thank goodness! All modern school classrooms are colourful places full of teaching aids of all kinds. There are posters, charts and pictures on the walls, audio and IT equipment, concrete objects like maths counters, unifix blocks and Flash Cards, toys and dress ups for the younger students, and sporting equipment of all sorts. Creative instrumental teachers in the 21st Century can learn from our colleagues in the classroom and make our lessons much more creative, lively, stimulating and fun, by using other teaching aids besides our instruments to really engage and motivate our students, making their lessons more vivid and memorable for the long week of practice ahead. When presenting new concepts it is always best to work from the known to the unknown, so adopt a playful approach and use items, pictures, toys or other objects that the student is familiar with, to illustrate your point. Here are a few suggestions. Teaching Aids for Better Posture Unfortunately many students droop when they play or fold themselves around their instruments. This can be a difficult problem to solve; simply nagging on about sitting or standing up straight is not very effective. Action Man1 and Barbie2 These dolls are stunning examples of great posture; standing for upper strings and sitting, if your doll has bendable knees, for cellists. With a tiny plastic violin or cello BluTack-ed3 to their shoulders and then placed on the music stand, they provide appealing examples to remind drooping students how to stand or sit up tall! Banana Man I contrast these dolls with ‘Banana Man’ who sits or stands all slumped over. A ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ Doll4 works well for this example, or you could draw a sad face on a banana instead. For older students who still sag, and who don’t suffer from allergies, I buy a packet of banana lollies and put one on the stand at the beginning of the lesson. If they can get through the lesson up straight and tall then they get to eat them at the end of the lesson! It is truly amazing how much of an effort they will make for such a simple reward. Sailing Ships Unfortunately the same idea or image will not work for all students so I have yet another toy for posture: a small toy square rigger sailing ship. I show them that the masts are straight and tall, holding up the sails and we talk about what would happen to the ship if the mast was bent and broken. The ship wouldn’t sail and may even sink! With the ship then placed on the stand with their music, there is a constant reminder to fix their posture. The horizontal yard arms are also good reminders for the cellists whose left arms droop. Wands and Sonic Screwdrivers Maintaining straight left forearms is a constant issue for young players of violins, violas and cellos. Fortunately there are many toys or images that can be used to help these students. These range from the simple ruler, to a magic wand. Wands are easy to buy or can be fun to make, especially if you decorate an old baton with tinsel. Dr Who’s Sonic Screwdriver5 is another wonderful tool for zapping and fixing all sorts of problems. A lesson can be made so much more vivid, memorable and entertaining for the student if you wave it to create spells to fix that bendy arm, or zap it back straight! Cars and Buses A cellist’s droopy left arm could turn into a bumpy road with a toy car to drive along it, or it could be a super-smooth highway with no bumps or potholes, more for a racing car! Cars and buses also graphically describe fast and slow bows when playing crotchets and minims. Left Hand Technique Helicopters When you are trying to encourage a child to play better in tune, suggest that their fingers are little helicopters hovering just over the string and waiting to land on their helipads. A small toy helicopter is a great toy for illustrating this point. Let the child play with it for a minute and then put it on the music stand as a visual reminder. Encourage them to get their own helicopter to use on their stand at home. A picture of a helicopter can be used in the same way but is probably not as effective as the added tactile effect of a toy one. I also draw simple ‘stick’ helicopters on their music in strategic places and in their lesson notebook as an extra reminder. Candy Canes Christmas candy canes look just like bent fingers. I ask the kids to imagine going home from school and finding four big candy canes hanging on the washing line, just for them! This is what their left fingers should look like when they play. Candy canes hang very easily from the stand, music book, (or ears for a giggle), and are very easy to draw on the music and in the lesson notebook. You can even reward the successfully reformed student with one to eat at Christmas time! Ballerinas For little ballerinas, an image of a dancer on the points of her toes is a good reminder to play with bent fingers on their ‘tippy toes’. Cake decoration shops sell little plastic ballerinas that you can put on the music stand. 19 The Back-to-Front Bow Hand Sadly, some students have hands which always seem to go backwards, with pointing, straight first fingers. I use various concepts to sort this one out. Possums and Elephants The first one I used was the idea of a curly possum’s tail for the right hand where the index finger needs to bend around the stick of the bow to some extent rather than point out dead straight. I bought a small plastic possum, a larger soft toy and a couple of postcards to illustrate my point and to decorate the music stand. An elephant’s trunk also works. With slightly older children, I remind them that it is rude to point! Lesson Notebooks Lesson notebooks are often a very boring and underused resource. Colour I keep a range of small textas in my teaching pencil case. Whenever the student has an issue that I want them to pay particular attention to in their practice, I write it in their book in colour. I always ask the student to choose the colour they would like me to use, so that they choose a colour that will stand out for them. This is particularly important if the student happens to be colourblind (and you may not always know this!) Quick Pictures and Sticky-notes If we have been playing with toys and other images in the lesson, I will usually do very quick stick figure drawings on their music and in their lesson notebook as reminders, for them to take home. Small coloured sticky-notes with brightly coloured words or simple sketches stuck onto the music are also very effective reminders. Stickers I don’t know anyone, of any age, who doesn’t appreciate some sort of reward or recognition for success and achievement. Students love to choose a sticker to put in their lesson notebook beside the piece that they have just accomplished; it is a symbol of achievement, progress and success. It is always worth the small amount of time taken by the student to choose a sticker to put in their book. Stickers can also be very useful motivators for teachers and parents alike. Parents can suggest, “When you get 10 stickers, I will give you a …” Many children keep a running total of stickers: “I have 372 stickers so far, and I want to get to 400 by the end of the year!” Stickers cost very little and weigh almost nothing but provide great motivation to accomplish so much more, livening up every lesson; I would never teach without them. Conclusion Ask yourself what is going to stay in your student’s mind longer during the upcoming week of practice: lots of repeated instructions from you or some games with toys, a magic wand or even a lolly? Which lesson would you rather give or receive: one with stickers, bright colours, toys and laughter, or one where the teacher just grumbles on? Most students genuinely want to become skilled players like their teachers, so make it easier for them by getting creative. Go shopping, keep all the receipts for your tax, and have lots of fun in every lesson!
    1. © Hasbro International Inc
    2. © Mattel. Inc
    3. © Bostik Australia Pty Ltd
    4. © Moose Enterprises Pty Ltd
    5. © Character Options UK
    Louise studied cello with Colleen McMeekin in Sydney. Since 1984 she has run string programs in Canberra schools, has taught pre-tertiary cello at the Wollongong Conservatorium and the ANU School of Music where she still works, and has been a conductor of junior string orchestras for Canberra Youth Music. Louise played professionally with Canberra Symphony Orchestra for several years and has run a successful private studio for over 40 years. For AUSTA, she is currently a National Board member and ACT President. " ["post_title"]=> string(46) "Teaching Aids in the 21st Century Music Studio" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(46) "teaching-aids-in-the-21st-century-music-studio" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2015-07-01 17:18:37" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2015-07-01 07:18:37" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(31) "http://www.austa.asn.au/?p=1146" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" }