Australian Music Examinations Board
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Musician in Focus: Jessica Voigt Page

 


Classical Saxophonist, Jessica Page is an Australian musician with a colourful music career.

While living in Australia, Jessica taught the AMEB syllabi to around 100 students, who all received excellent results in their exams each year. Jessica is now based in Texas where she provides music education to young saxophonists through her independent school, Saxophone Academy Austin.

Her academy promotes and encourages excellence in music students through a variety of lessons, camps and activities. Though there aren’t any music examination systems in America, she still uses the AMEB saxophone grade books as an extra resource to assist her students in becoming well-rounded musicians.

 

As a performer, Jessica's recent highlights include appearances at: the World Saxophone Congress in Strasbourg, France, the Australian Saxophone Retreat and Saxophone Academy Sydney Winter School, amongst many more international performances and achievements such as being a finalist in the 2013 Music Teachers’ National Association Chamber Music Competition.

We interviewed Jessica about her life as an Australian Saxophone teacher in Texas.  

 

You started your Texas Saxophone Academy in Austin, Texas. What reasons made you decide to start this institution?

In 2014, my husband and I moved to Austin after he was hired as the Saxophone Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and I saw this as a great opportunity for me to take my teaching business to the next level.

 

I had always run my studio like a business, but I knew that I could create something amazing by creating an institution rather than being a sole teacher.

I wanted to provide students in the area with a place that they could come, not only to study the saxophone, but also to feel part of a community, to participate in events with their friends, and to bring together the saxophone community in Austin in a way that had not yet been done. I saw an opening to create something of value to the students and community, and I threw myself into it 100%.

 


What are the biggest differences that you’ve noticed between music studies in Australia compared to in America? 

Honestly, it’s like a different world over here. I grew up with my once a week after school (or before school) band rehearsals, private music lessons, private theory lessons and classroom music, and I thought was busy.

 

Band and music over here is something that has taken me a while to get used to (and I think I learn something new each week still!). I will also say that living in Texas is more intense than the rest of the country. I believe Texas and Florida are the states, which have the heaviest focus on music and marching band. 

 

Students choose band as a class, which meets for 50 to 90 minutes every day of the week during school hours. Band starts in 6th grade for most students – the elementary schools offer basic music classes for singing and playing recorder etc, but band instruments are typically not introduced until later.

 

We don’t really have anything like AMEB (which I think is a bit of a shame), but I actually use the AMEB syllabus to help ensure my students become well-rounded in their saxophone studies through the theory, technical work, general knowledge and aural training that they don’t often get during the busy schedules of their band classes.

 

I believe AMEB is a great way for students to feel accomplished each year as they progress through the challenges of each grade, and I love the way each student receives a balanced education – with the aural skills, general knowledge, technique and repertoire areas complementing each other wonderfully. I wish we had AMEB over here for my students! 

 


You’ve worked closely with leading Australian music publisher, Reed Music. Tell us about this process.

Having the opportunity to see how an incredibly successful business is run, understanding the steps and processes that go into each piece of sheet music I buy, and to be involved with a company that offers so much to so many people was one of the most valuable things I have ever been able to do.

 

I am eternally grateful to the company for letting me be part of what they do!

 

I have actually started to see some of the music from the reedmusic.com catalogue appearing on our set music lists (for Solo and Ensemble as I mentioned earlier), and I am so excited to be introducing my American students to Australian music!

I feel this has been more rewarding personally, as I have been able to talk with Professors and students about the music, about my home and about how special the music is to me. I know it’s sparked some increased excitement around Australian music.


What is the best thing about being a music teacher?

The thing I love most about teaching is being able to inspire my students to achieve things that they never thought were possible.

 

I also love watching young people turn into amazingly talented and kind young adults. I am a very firm believer that 50% of my job is ensuring that the students I send into the big scary world are good people, with generous hearts and curious minds.

Music has the power to define the way we live our lives, and as a teacher, I am charged with the responsibility to train musicians who are ready to interact in the real world. It’s not a role I take lightly, and it’s incredibly rewarding to watch come to fruition.

 

What is the best tip for assisting musicians in realising their music potential?

I would have two things to offer here.

  1. Everything can be figured out. There is nothing that you cannot do if you work hard enough at it and are curious enough about it. If something isn’t working, mix it up and find a new approach. Get curious and know that you have everything you need already to figure it out.   
  2. No one is talented enough to be rude, unprofessional or unkind. 
    Oftentimes, the most talented and successful people are also the most humble and generous people. Train yourself to be a great musician and an even greater human being. 


What would you suggest to musicians starting out teaching?

Treat your teaching as a business. Never say, “I’m just private teaching”, or “I just have a couple of students”.

When you teach, you impact people’s lives and that is an incredibly important and valuable thing to remember. 

When you treat your teaching as a business, others will take you more seriously, and you will find your success will grow much faster. Learn business skills, study how successful entrepreneurs work, and become confident in your ability to sell your services. Also, get a good accountant. Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to taxes. 

 

 

 

If you had to teach one song for the rest of your teaching career, what song would that be?

This is a tough one! I think it would have to be either Ingolf Dahl’s Concerto or Lars-Erik Larsson’s Concerto. Both pieces have so much in them that I don’t think it would be possible to run out of things to talk about and teach. They’re also absolutely stunning to listen to and play, which I think would be very important if I was going to be listening to it forever!

 

What's in the pipeline for 2017?

I presented a talk on music entrepreneurship at the NASA conference in March, and will be talking about the “not-so starving musician” at The University of Texas at Austin in April. I’m currently working on the content for my new summer entrepreneurship online course which I am super excited about which will be available for anyone in the world to participate in.

I'm designing this to offer specialised training in music-based business skills to help young musicians fast track their success. I’m also going to be attending the SAVVY musician program in South Carolina in June.

I also have my summer saxophone camps coming up in June too. We have so much fun! 

You can find out more about Jessica by visiting: http://www.jessicavoigt.com/