Erica Rasmussen

March 30th, 2022 by AUSTA Conference

Erica Rasmussen

Including Composition and Improvisation in the Crashendo program at Laverton College

Session: Crashendo! is a community-based music program at Laverton College. Students participate in small group classes and ensemble rehearsals for four hours after school each week. Tuition is free and instruments are provided. Under the guidance of teaching artists, students develop technical proficiency on their instrument, and skills such as cooperation, commitment, focus, confidence, trust and self-discipline. Teachers use method books for beginners then select standard repertoire as the students advance in ability. Following a research trip to New York, I returned to address deficits in the curriculum pertaining to composition and improvisation. Our students are the composers of the future in this country and I felt they were missing out on clear opportunities to be new music creators. This practice-based presentation describes my experience in reviewing the curriculum through extensive discussion, challenges in shifting pedagogical approaches, inclusion of external assistance and the implementation of some minimum composition and improvisation requirements in rehearsals and performances.

Erica is a musician and educator. She completed a Master of Music Performance in Percussion and Bachelor of Music (Honours) at the University of Melbourne. While there, Erica was awarded the J.S Bach prize and received a scholarship to study at McGill University in Canada. In 2009, she received a grant from the Cybec Foundation to participate in a Winter Music Creative Residency at the Banff Centre, Canada. In 2017, Erica completed a Master of Arts and Cultural Management at the University of Melbourne.

Since 2012, Erica has been Director of Crashendo, an after-school music program at Laverton P-12 College for children who experience disadvantage in accessing the arts. She has overseen the program grow from 20 to 80 students, and the expansion from strings to include woodwind instruments.

Erica has managed and directed a number of professional and community projects since 2009, receiving a number of grants to help fund them, including from the City of Melbourne, Moonee Valley Foundation and ArtPlay. She is also employed as an instrumental teacher and regular teaching artist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and workshop director at ArtPlay.