Kath has combined her lifelong musical interests with a career in scientific research and academia. Not only has she played in two different sections of Blue Mountains Concert Band, she has programmed concerts and served many years in the band’s committee.
“I have lived in the Blue Mountains most of my life although I spent some years working overseas in the USA as well as in Adelaide and Sydney. My career has been in science and medical research, and I spent most of my early career doing laboratory-based experimental work. When my children were little, I started working in infectious diseases response in public health in western Sydney before becoming a university academic and medical educator. Currently I am retired, but work as a consultant in public health and continue my research into the history of medicine.
“Our family always listened to music when I was a child. It was often classical music, or Gilbert and Sullivan, and my father also loved the Sousa marches. I learned to play the recorder in my teens and performed with a group at high school. We played music from medieval times, competed in eisteddfods, and even played at the Opera House. People are often dismissive of the recorder but it was how I learned to read music. I have two lovely old wooden recorders at home and still play them from time to time.
“As an adult in my mid-20s, I started to play flute, although it was a busy time of my life and I didn’t have many lessons. Like every one, I am better if I practise and would benefit even now from some theory lessons. I joined the band in about 2007 on flute and struggled a bit, but practised and managed to improve my playing and sight-reading over several years in the flute section.
“Watching the timpanists at orchestral performances was always a fascination for me, and I was pleased when we bought the three timpani for the band. I will always be grateful for the chance given to me to play them with BMCB and for the instruction from Tim Dickinson. The timpani music is a challenge in itself, being written in bass clef, so every Tuesday I need to remind myself that Good Boys Deserve Fruit Always. I really think the timpani is my happy place and I love the challenge of new pieces.
“Another wonderful aspect of band for me is spending time with my friends, some of whom I have known for many years. I think it’s particularly wonderful that so many people have come to band as parents of Mountains Youth Band instrumentalists and re-discovered their old instruments that have lain dormant for years.
“I find the concerts a fabulous experience, and love doing all the preparation to get ready, and the challenge on the night. Not having timpani at home, I usually watch YouTube clips so I can see the timpanists at work, and then write notes on my music and practice with two pencils on my desk. It is always amazing how we can seem to struggle with the music in the rehearsals just before the concert but manage to get it right on the night!
“There are many activities that I love – gardening, writing, bushwalks, going to concerts, and spending time with my family. But having the opportunity to play music, and especially to make music, is a great joy, and something that I feel privileged to be doing.”