University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

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Welcome to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Message from the Dean

Dean of the Conservatorium, Kim Walker

If you have been offered an undergraduate or postgraduate place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (or the Con as it is affectionately known by almost everyone), you can already be proud of your success.

You will have convinced our highly experienced selection panel that you have the ability and tenacity to develop, over the next 3 – 4 years and beyond, into one of the leading musicians or musicologists in your field of expertise.

We welcome you warmly to our community of 1800 university students and 1300 non-tertiary Conservatorium Open Academy music students. It is a privilege to be here and much will be expected of you. You will already be accustomed to putting in many hours of regular practice and hard work. In order to realise your potential during your time at the Con, we will demand more of you and you will demand more of yourself.

The Con is about excellence: it is an elite school without being elitist. Academic excellence is a given, but we expect, in addition, artistic excellence and potential.

We welcome music students from all backgrounds, all races and all nationalities. Currently, we have students from 34 countries and all around Australia; more and more of the most promising young musicians in the world are selecting the Con as their destination of choice. What we share is a dedication to music and a commitment to raising our standards of performance, education and research, both individually and together, in ensembles and orchestras.

We are fortunate that our calling is all about joy and beauty and raising people's spirits. Listening to fine music is an activity that can affect every aspect of the human psyche. It can assuage grief, relieve pain, bring comfort, change moods, raise hopes, enhance understanding and trigger enlightenment. Never underestimate the value of what you do for people. Like doctors and nurses, musicians have the power to make people better.

Be sure to make the most of this opportunity. You are being given the chance to spend several years developing your natural gifts, with assistance and advice from world-renowned experts, into something really special and unique. Don't waste this precious time in your life. It only comes once. Hit the ground running and keep going.

By all means, make friends, have fun and enjoy your time as a student. We don't want you to turn into a practice obsessed automaton – that's not the way to make the most sublime music. Just remember why you're here. This is a chance to test and surpass your own limits. No-one else can do the practice for you. At the end of the day, your success will not be measured by what you play, but by how you play it.

You're here because you've been chosen as one of a select few. Dare to dream. Be bold enough to make mistakes. But aspire to excellence. You've been invited to study at the Con because we believe you are capable of maintaining and extending our great tradition of global excellence in music.

Together, we can make your wildest dreams come true!

Professor Kim Walker
Dean and Principal of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Photography by Dan White

Our Mission

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is a cultural catalyst inspiring the study, research, creation and performance of music in all its forms. To prepare gifted students of all backgrounds and nationalities for a professional career in music. To prepare students for artistic, innovative performance and scholarship at the highest level of excellence. To foster lifelong commitment to music and culture and to provide enjoyment and enlightenment to all people.

Graduate Attributes

Students of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, will have a stance towards knowledge, the world, and themselves that sets them apart from other graduates in their lives and work.

SCHOLARSHIP: an attitude or stance towards knowledge
Graduates will have a scholarly attitude to knowledge and understanding. As scholars, the University’s graduates will be leaders in the production of new knowledge and understanding through inquiry, critique and synthesis. They will be able to apply their knowledge to solve consequential problems and communicate their knowledge confidently and effectively.

GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP: an attitude or stance towards the world
Graduates will be global citizens, who will aspire to contribute to society in a full and meaningful way through their roles as members of local, national and global communities.

LIFELONG LEARNING: an attitude or stance towards themselves
Graduates will be lifelong learners committed to and capable of continuous learning and reflection for the purpose of furthering their understanding of the world and their place in it.

Students will be supported in achieving these broad outcomes during their studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music through the development of the following generic attributes:

Research and Inquiry

Graduates of the University will be able to develop new knowledge and understanding through the process of research and inquiry.
For example, students will:

  • be able to identify, define and analyse problems in written work, composition, teaching or performance and identify or create processes to solve them
  • be able to exercise critical judgement and critical thinking in creating new understandings in relation to some or all of the following: music analysis, music composition, music education, music history, music technology, and music performance
  • be creative, imaginative and independent thinkers in their artistic endeavours
  • have an informed understanding of the principles, standards, values and boundaries of current music knowledge, pedagogy and performance practice
  • be able to question critically and to evaluate current music knowledge of compositional, pedagogical and performance practices, acknowledging global and historical diversity and recognising the limitations of their own knowledge.

Information Literacy

Graduates of the University will be able to use information effectively in a range of contexts.
For example, students will:

  • be able to recognise the extent of information needed for professional and informed music performance, composition, teaching and research
  • locate needed information efficiently and effectively using a variety of printed, audiovisual and digital media and online sources
  • evaluate information and its sources
  • use information in critical thinking and problem-solving contexts to construct knowledge and improve music composition, performance or teaching
  • understand economic, legal, social and cultural issues in the use of printed, audiovisual and online information
  • use contemporary technology and audiovisual media to access and manage information
  • recognise the importance of observation of the composition, performance and music education practices of others, as a source of knowledge.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy

Graduates of the University will be able to work independently and sustainably, in a way that is informed by openness, curiosity and a desire to meet new challenges.
For example, students will:

  • be intellectually curious and able to sustain intellectual interest
  • be capable of rigorous and independent thinking
  • be open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
  • be able to respond effectively to unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts
  • be able to identify processes and strategies to learn and meet new challenges in scholarly work, composition, teaching or performance
  • be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning
  • recognise and be able to undertake lifelong learning through reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
  • have a personal vision and goals, and be able to work towards these in a sustainable way by establishing good work practices in music scholarship, composition, teaching or performance.

Ethical, Social and Professional Understanding

Graduates of the University will hold personal values and beliefs consistent with their role as responsible members of local, national, international and professional communities
For example, students will:

  • strive for truth, honesty, integrity, open-mindedness, fairness and generosity
  • acknowledge their personal responsibility for their own value judgements and behaviour
  • understand and accept social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities
  • be committed to social justice
  • have an appreciation of and respect for diversity
  • hold a perspective that acknowledges local, national and international concerns
  • work with, manage, and lead others in music teaching contexts, research partnerships or performance ensembles in ways that value their diversity and equality and that facilitate their contribution to the group and to the wider community.


Graduates of the University will recognise and value communication as a tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, interacting with others, and furthering their own learning.
For example, students will:

  • use oral, aural, written and visual communication to further their own learning
  • make effective use of appropriate forms of communication to critique, negotiate and create understanding
  • use spoken, audiovisual, written media and music performance as communicative tools for interacting with and relating to others.