Mr Rodney Smith

Mr Rodney Smith
  • Biography/ Background

    Rodney Smith was born in the United Kingdom and won an Associated Board Scholarship to study piano performance at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), London, in 1962. He graduated in 1967 with the RAM’s Recital Diploma and its highest award for piano performance, the Macfarren Medal. Subsequently he undertook two years private study in London with the eminent specialist in 20th century piano music, Margaret Kitchin, and was a prize-winner at the Olivier Messiaen Piano Competition in Royan, France, in 1969. Wigmore Hall, South Bank and other recital work followed over the next ten years, including visits to Hungary and Russia in 1974 and 1976. Much of this work involved music by 20th century European avant-garde composers.

    During this period he had also begun an increasingly significant association with a newly developing field of research and practice at the time, Piano Pedagogy. He was Senior Piano Organiser for the (then) Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) from 1972 to 1978, as well as occupying teaching posts at the RAM and the (then) Coventry Education Authority. He organised regular piano pedagogy courses in London for students at the RAM and for private (freelance) music teachers within the ILEA and contributed towards the inception of the European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA).

    Since relocating to Australia in 1978 he has been deeply involved in the establishment and expansion of instrumental music pedagogy as a distinct area of research and teaching endeavour. In connection with this he initiated and designed a range of courses and programs from certificate to honours degree level in pedagogy studies at the Adelaide Institute of TAFE Flinders Street School of Music between 1980 and 2000.

    From 1986 to 1987 he was visiting professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Illinois School of Music and in 1993 he founded the biennial Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. This has continued to develop successfully and the Eleventh Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference will take place at the University of Southern queensland in July 2013. From 1993 to 1998 he was Chair of the Institute of Music Teachers, a national accrediting body established to validate the professional qualifications of private instrumental music teachers throughout Australia.

    He was Head of Vocational Education and Training Programs at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, the University of Adelaide, from 2002 - 2012 and is currently Co-ordinator of the Honours Program. Formerly Co-ordinator and now Head  of Pedagogy Studies at the Elder Conservatorium, he has developed a suite of courses and programs in pedagogy there at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He also directs the group piano program of the Conservatorium’s Junior Access Centre and serves as a Federal Director of the Australian Music Examinations Board. He has produced a number of papers and publications bearing upon the professional status, training and qualifications of private music teachers and overseas music training systems.

    Throughout his career he has continued to undertake regular piano concerts and broadcasts, particularly of Olivier Messiaen’s music and the music of the Twentieth Century English Romantics. In 1996 he was awarded the Adelaide Critics’ Circle Award for his performance of the piano solo part of Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques during the 1996 Adelaide Festival of Arts. In 2008, the anniversary of Messiaen’s birth, he undertook a number of concerts of Messiaen’s music as well as co-authoring, with Dr. Christine Logan, a paper and performance at the International Messiaen Conference at the University of Southern Queensland. In 2009 he gave a paper and performance on aspects of the piano music of Arnold Bax at the Ninth Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference in Sydney.

    He has been a music critic for the Adelaide’s principal newspaper, The Advertiser, since 1980, reviewing hundreds of concerts including those of many major artists and sixteen Adelaide Festivals of Arts.

  • Research Interests

    • Piano performance and pedagogy, with particular focus on music of the twentieth century European avant-garde and the English romantics.
    • Instrumental Music Pedagogy, with particular focus on teacher training and qualifications and group teaching.
  • Publications

    Co-editor of the Proceedings of the 7th Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference Keys to the Future. Adelaide, 2005.

    Logan, C and Smith, R. "Messiaen’s Visions de L’Amen: issues in performance practice informed by the composer’s role as piano, organ and orchestral colorist."  In Olivier Messiaen: The Centenary Papers, edited by Judith Crispin. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2010. 

    Selected Journal Articles and Conference Papers since 1999

    Smith, R. John Polglase's 13 Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song transcribed by Béla Bartók: a significant new resource for piano teachers and advancing pianists. Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. Wagga Wagga, 2011.

    Smith, R. The short piano solos of Arnold Bax, 1911 - 1921:  a premature abandonment of the genre?  Proceedings of the 9th Biennial Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. Sydney, 2009.

    Logan, C and Smith, R. Messiaen’s Visions de L’Amen: issues in performance practice informed by the composer’s role as piano, organ and orchestral colorist.  International Conference of Messiaen Studies. University of Southern Queensland. March 2008.
    Smith, R. Piano Pedagogy in the 21st Century Conservatoire: Reflections on current developments in the United Kingdom and their significance for Australian practitioners.
    Proceedings of the 8th Biannual Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. Canberra, 2007.

    Smith, R. The piano music of Olivier Messiaen – contextual issues in performance practice.
    Proceedings of the 6th Biennial Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. Melbourne, 2003
    Smith, R. Some considerations concerning current career prospects for newly credentialed private music teachers in the Australian context.  Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Music Education. Adelaide. 2002. 

    Smith, R. The Australian Piano Teaching Profession?  Proceedings of the 5th Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. Brisbane, 2001

    Smith, R. Australian  Piano Teachers’ Representatives. Proceedings of the 4th Australian National Piano Pedagogy Conference. Perth, 1999.


    Expertise for Media Contact

    Cateogories Education, Music
    Expertise Piano Pedagogy Piano Performance Music Criticism
    Notes Alt phone: (08) 8303 5785

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Entry last updated: Friday, 26 Apr 2013