UWA Keyed Up! Day of Piano, & RSI

I went back to my alma mater today to watch UWA Head of Keyboard and Performance Studies, Graeme Gilling, give masterclass tuition in the second annual Keyed Up! Day of Piano.

Graeme Gilling with student

What a great resource this is for piano students and teachers in Perth. Graeme’s many years of experience as a performer and teacher were in evidence as he gave sage advice to students ranging in age from young children through to late teens (and perhaps 20 year olds?), playing pieces from the early grades through to about grade seven or eight and perhaps one from the AMusA.

Topics covered, usually with several students, included voicing, rhythm & beat in mazurkas, balance, articulation, shaping phrases, and playing as if you were singing. Graeme made the point, often completely missed by students and teachers alike, that the only difference between a loud sound and a soft one was the speed with which the key goes down. So true and so counter-intuitive! The difference seems to be beyond human perception and so many people incorrectly think it has something to do with a vague notion about ‘force’ or ‘weight.’

Mx Margaret Dylan Jones

Mx Margaret Dylan Jones, that’s me.

A point made several times was that all pianists need to be careful to avoid getting repetitive strain injury (RSI), a descriptive term for an overuse injury also known as occupational overuse syndrome. While playing with wrists in an unnatural position (such as low, with the hands bent up) is not the only problem it is certainly asking for trouble. I had RSI about five years ago, caused mainly from a faulty piano technique but with poor computer mouse use a contributing factor. Then I discovered a much better technique for piano playing and now I’m practically symptom-free.

I don’t often get down to ‘The Flatlands’ so it was a little nostalgic for me to be in the Callaway Auditorium again. Professor John Exton’s black hemispherical acoustic baffles (diffusors?), installed just before I began studying for my degree there in 1979, are still hanging from the ceiling (see pic below), which no doubt contribute to the venue having such good acoustics. These students were so lucky to play there on a wonderful full-size Steinway grand. What a sound! But I wonder if anyone has thought to check the baffles for dust & dead insects. If they get heavy will they one day come plummeting down?

Callaway Auditorium at the University of Western Australia

Callaway Auditorium at the University of Western Australia

This annual event is highly recommended for all students and teachers. Feel free to comment below.

Marriage equality acceptance rings arrived

We finally received our “Until we all belong” marriage equality acceptance rings from Airbnb.

Until we all belong marriage equality acceptance ring

Until we all belong marriage equality acceptance rings

“This incomplete ring symbolises the gap
in marriage equality that we need to close.

“Until the day comes when two people who love each other can celebrate that love through commitment, will you wear this ring and show your acceptance of marriage equality?”

Airbnb on eBay have been overwhelmed with orders so there was a big delay (two months for us), and somehow we ended up with sizes too small (that’s why they’re on our little fingers). But they’ll do.

Absolutely anyone can wear these rings in support of the LGBTIQ community’s case for marriage equality in Australia. They’re free apart from $3.50 postage each.

Jenny and I will get married whether the law changes or not. Wearing the acceptance rings is our way of showing support for all the many other lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) folk who don’t have our advantage.


Marriage equality open letter

Jenny & Mix Margaret

My letter to my local Federal Member of Parliament, Mr Ken Wyatt AM, MP, a member of the Liberal Party.

For readers outside of Australia: despite its name the ‘Big L’ Liberal Party is actually the right wing or conservative party, currently ruling Australia under Prime Minister Turnbull.

The letter was sent on 10 July 2017 via this website:
which said “Write your message … and it will be sent to your local MP.” You can do the same!

Dear Ken Wyatt MP

I grew up in Parkerville/Hovea in the 60s and 70s and now live in Sawyers Valley. I’m a well-known and highly respected local classical musician and teacher.

Please ensure any new marriage law covers any two consenting adults, not just opposite sex couples and same sex couples. This way non-binary and intersex people will be able to marry.

At the moment some of us can’t marry, while others can but they will be misgendered. When I marry my fiancé I want to do it right, I don’t want to have completely wrong words in it.

Ken, as a straight non-transgender man, can you imagine getting married as a ‘wife?’ Or getting married to a ‘husband?’ How wrong is that? This is the sort of misgendering which happens under the current law.

Marriage predates Christianity by a long way. For non-believers it is a contract and a powerful emotional commitment, but not a religious rite. Churches should not have power of veto over the Marriage Act; it doesn’t belong to them.

Of course, many same-sex couples and couples where one or both partners are non-binary or intersex are indeed religious. My fiancé is a Christian, while I am an atheist. There is no valid reason why we should be denied equality in the social contract of marriage.

We already know the vast majority of Australians are in favour of marriage equality and would vote in favour of it if a plebiscite were held. Despite this, some MPs have already said a ‘Yes’ vote in a plebiscite won’t make them vote for it in parliament, thus making a mockery of the case for a plebiscite.

Please do not appease the tiny vocal minority who want to delay justice by using a non-binding and expensive plebiscite. They are pushing a religious agenda and playing politics with people’s lives. A plebiscite would cause taxpayer-funded hate and misinformation to invade the Australian media, resulting in great harm to a large number of Australian families.


Mx Margaret D. Jones, androgyne (enby)
Sawyers Valley, Western Australia
Email via www.mixmargaret.com