Dr James Humberstone

FRSA, PhD (UNSW), MTeach (UWS), MMus (Sydney), BMus Hons (Exon)
Senior Lecturer in Music Education

Member of the Charles Perkins Centre

C41 - Sydney Conservatorium of Music
The University of Sydney

Telephone 02 9351 1270

Website Academia.edu
Personal website
Research Gate

Biographical details

James Humberstone's output is influenced by his research background in experimental music, his interest in composing for children and community ensembles, and his experience in the music technology profession. His research is published as creative NTRO (non-traditional research outputs - compositions) and as traditional research in the fields of musicology, music education, and technology.

Born in London, Humberstone migrated to Australia in 1997 after completing a degree in composition at the University of Exeter. His honours thesis was on the music of Howard Skempton, with whom Humberstone studied briefly after graduating. Humberstone has often cited Skempton as his greatest influence.

Background: Non-traditional research outputs

Humberstone undertook further studies with Anne Boyd at the University of Sydney (MMus), and with John Peterson and Andrew Schultz at the University of New South Wales (PhD). Over the first decade of this century his focus changed from the exploration of minimalist and experimentalist structures (for example Chance: Chants (2002), Requiem (2002, 2006) to composing for children.

Composer-in-Residence at MLC School in Sydney from 2002 to 2013, and often invited to residences at other schools around Australia and the world, Humberstone has had a great number of opportunities to develop his voice while writing within the limitations imposed when composing for children. He scaffolds extensive repertoire (for example his children's opera Kiravanu (2008) or Symphony of the Child (2009)) with sound pedagogy and learning resources. In 2013 Humberstone became a full time lecturer in Music Education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and in 2016 was promoted to Senior Lecturer. In 2017 Humberstone was Program Leader of Music Education.

More recently Humberstone began to combine his aesthetic interest - pairing back music to its essences and involving the performer in the act of interpretation through open forms - with his educational experience in a number of works: The Speaking Piano (2012) combined a children's book, eBook, webapp and simple piano repertoire with concert music commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium and premiered by Michael Kieran Harvey; whileCycles and Circles(2012) was a commission for Ensemble Offspring's Music to Infinity tour and included a downloadable education kit.

Since joining faculty at the Sydney conservatorium in 2013, Humberstone has enjoyed a series of high-profile commissions, including Campanella (2013) which was commissioned and premiered by Synergy Percussion, Noise Husbandry (2015) an electro-acoustic installation onboard a destroyer and sumarine at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Odysseus: Live (2016) a cross arts collaboration in cinema, spoken word poetry, hip hop, with score for orchestra and choir and most recently The Weight of Light (2018), a new song cycle with libretto by Nigel Featherstone, commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium with production by The Street theatre, Canberra.

Background: Traditional research outputs

The connections between Humberstone's compositional outputs and his musicological research are self-evident. Having written about and studied with Howard Skempton, Humberstone focused on Sydney's most equivalent figure, the enigmatic David Ahern, in a series of articles, his masters thesis, and the resulting ABC Radio Series, produced by Andrew Mclennan, Down for the count. Episodes in the life of David Ahern.

Humberstone's PhD broadened his research interests alongside his compositional interests, investigating Malcolm Williamson's Cassations, a series of mini-operas for musically-untrained children. Humberstone's analysis lead to the development of a series of computer programs to analyse Pitch Proximity and Pitch Reveral (Schellenberg, E. G., Adachi, M., Purdy, K. T., & McKinnon, M. C., 2002), and later collaboration with Dr Carolyn Philpott from the University of Tasmania.

From 1999 to 2008 James Humberstone enjoyed a career developing from Technical Support to Director of Education and Applications at Sibelius (Australia). This period overlapped his school teaching career, and Humberstone became known as a leading practitioner in technology-infused composition, and creativity more broadly. In recent years Humberstone's praxis has informed new directions in research, first through a series of publications (2014, 2015, 2017) that established a philosophical and theoretical position on the subject of technology in music education and the place of music in 21st century education; and more recently by establishing a research team to investigate the approach to literature and new thinking by the international music education cohort around Humberstone's Coursera MOOC (called The Place of Music in 21st Education) (publication in review).

Research interests

  • Composition
  • Music education
  • Experimental music
  • Technology
  • Music for (musically-untrained) children
  • Music educators' worldviews & social justice
  • Pluralism in music education
  • Music analysis

Teaching and supervision

Author and lecturer: The University of Sydney's first MOOC, The Place of Music in 21st Century Education (over 3,000 active learners to date)

Lecturer:

  • MUED1010 Key Ideas in Music Education*
  • MUED3603 Composition in Music Education^
  • MUED3605 Junior Secondary Music Education*
  • MUED4002 Technology in Music Education^
  • MUED4006 Popular Music Studies*
  • MUED4602 Senior Secondary Music Education*
  • OLET1803 Digital Skills: Sound^

^ Current Unit of Study author and coordinator
* Past Unit of Study author and coordinator

Unit of Study coordinator:

  • MUED3604 Ensemble Pedagogy

Current and past research students

Project Degree Research student
Composition portfolio; Thesis: Benjamin Britten's polytechnical works. PhD Jim Coyle
Composition portfolio; Thesis: Compositional techniques of Jason Robert Brown. MMus (Composition) Adrian Kingwell
Digital Game Based Learning in Music: Does Rocksmith teach guitar? MMus (Music Education) Rebecca Ly
Modulating poly-temporal music for computer and musicians MMus (Composition) Kurt Mikolajczyk
Beyond the Blended Learning Buzz: A study on the impact of Blended Learning in a Secondary Music Classroom. PhD Brad Fuller
Transforming Year 7 - 8 Music with creative music technology MMus (Music Education) Rebecca Grubb

Current projects

The Weight of Light, a new song cycle with libretto by Nigel Featherstone. Commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium, production by Caroline Stacey and The Street theatre, Canberra.

Changing the world(view): stimulating international music educator change through provocation. Ongoing research project, first chapter currently in review. Click through to read the draft abstract.

Odysseus: Live, Homer'sThe Odyssey reimagined in spoken word poetry, hip-hop and film with full orchestra and choir.

Associations

Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Member:

  • International Society for Music Education
  • Australian Society for Music Education
  • Musicology Australia

In the media

Reviews of The Weight of Light premiere performances in Canberra and Goulburn (James Humberstone's new song cycle with libretto by Nigel Featherstone).

The Science of Dubstep. James Humberstone's incredibly popular TEDxOxford talk with over half a million views worldwide.

SBS World News: "Hip-Hop Odysseus". A preview before the first development performance of Odysseus : Liveat SCM. Features interviews with MC Luka Lesson, James Humberstone, and students of the Sydney Conservatorium.

The Place of Music in 21st Century Music Education: Trailer. The trailer for James Humberstone's MOOC, published on Coursera.

Selected grants

2017

  • Digital Skills for the 21st Century Student (Open Learning Environment - Undergraduate); Humberstone J, Nestel S, Kim-Boyle D; DVC Education/Small Educational Innovation Grant.

Selected publications & creative works

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Books

  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Sibelius 7 Music Notation Essentials. Boston, USA: Avid Technology Inc.
  • Humberstone, J., Ricketson, D. (2008). Stepping stones: teacher resource kit. Sydney, Australia: Australian Music Centre.

Book Chapters

  • Humberstone, J. (2017). A Pluralist Approach to Music Education. In S. Alex Ruthmann & Roger Mantie (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education, (pp. 421-430). New York: Oxford University Press.

Journals

  • Philpott, C., Humberstone, J. (2016). The Glitter Gang (1973-74): A Microcosm of Malcolm Williamson's Views on Social Inclusivity and His Australian Identity. Musicology Australia, 38(1), 1-28. [More Information]
  • Humberstone, J. (2010). Not just an experience: The children's opera "kiravanu' as a medium for learning. Music in Action, 7(5), 15-17.
  • Humberstone, J. (2009). The Creative Teacher: How to use technology to produce learning materials. Music in Action, 7(1), 8-11.
  • Humberstone, J. (2008). Following the least-trodden paths. Resonate, (2).

Conferences

  • Humberstone, J. (2015). Defining creativity for a more pluralist approach to music education. ASME XXth National Conference - Music: Educating for life, Parkville, Victoria: Australian Society for Music Education.
  • Humberstone, J., Taylor, J. (2015). Making Music Learning Fun - Designing an Interactive iBook for Informal Learning. ACMC2015 - MAKE!, Sydney, Australia: The Australasian Computer Music Association.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Computer-aided analysis of Malcolm Williamson's approach to composing his cassations for musically-untrained children. XIX National Australian Society for Music Education Conference (ASME 2013), Parkville, Australia: Australian Society for Music Education.
  • Johnston, A., Humberstone, J. (2010). Elective Music Students Experiences with Jam2Jam. The 7th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment, Wellington, New Zealand: Interactive Entertainment.

Musical Compositions

  • Mitchell, J., Humberstone, J. (2016). 1. Ancient Greek: Prologue (sw) 2. Odysseus: on the raft again (sw) 3. A Pompous Poet (sw) 4. Odysseus' Response to the poet (sw) 5. Trojan Horse (r) 6. The Cyclops (sw) 7. The Cyclops (r) 8. Athena dances (i) 9. Underworld (r) [9b. Set Sail] 10. Charybdis & Skilla (r) 11. Sirens (sw) 12. Sirens (r) 13. Helios (sw) 14. Storm Hits (i) 15. Perfect Storm (r) 16. Calypso (sw) 17. Calypso (r) [17b. Set Sail] 18. Inner Landscapes [BLACK OUT/SILENCE (faux ending)] 19. Athena Dances (i) 20. Suitors (sw) 21. Suitors (r) 22. Ancient Greek: Epilogue (sw). Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J. (2015). 1. crossing the line i 2. crossing the line ii 3. crossing the line iii 4. crossing the line iv 5. codes 6. mate-ship 7. hmas voyager : in memoriam 8. gun bay 9. family 10. second secrets 11. seventh secrets 12.chamber surgery 13. nerve centre 14.waves 15.palindromes. Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J., Fox, R. (2015). Waterside Adventures. Beijing, China: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J. (2014). The Very Music of the Name. Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Before Day. Sydney, Australia: Hummingsong Music Publications Pty Ltd.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Campanella. Sydney, Australia: Hummingsong Music Publications Pty Ltd.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Passion. Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). The Riemann Hypothesis. Sydney, Australia: Hummingsong Music Publications Pty Ltd.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Three for Two Flutes: 1. mannasaettir i 2. mannasaettir ii 3. mannasaettir iii. Sydney, Australia: Reed Music Pty Ltd.

Recorded / Rendered Performance

  • Humberstone, J. (2016). Track 1-3 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 1 (3:00) Version 2 (2:12) Version 3 (1:14) Track 9 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 4 (3:26) Tracks 11-12 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 5 (4:09) Version 6 (2:54) Track 14 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 7 (4:24). On CYCLES + CIRCLES, CD, Sydney, Australia: Ensemble Offspring.

2017

  • Humberstone, J. (2017). A Pluralist Approach to Music Education. In S. Alex Ruthmann & Roger Mantie (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education, (pp. 421-430). New York: Oxford University Press.

2016

  • Mitchell, J., Humberstone, J. (2016). 1. Ancient Greek: Prologue (sw) 2. Odysseus: on the raft again (sw) 3. A Pompous Poet (sw) 4. Odysseus' Response to the poet (sw) 5. Trojan Horse (r) 6. The Cyclops (sw) 7. The Cyclops (r) 8. Athena dances (i) 9. Underworld (r) [9b. Set Sail] 10. Charybdis & Skilla (r) 11. Sirens (sw) 12. Sirens (r) 13. Helios (sw) 14. Storm Hits (i) 15. Perfect Storm (r) 16. Calypso (sw) 17. Calypso (r) [17b. Set Sail] 18. Inner Landscapes [BLACK OUT/SILENCE (faux ending)] 19. Athena Dances (i) 20. Suitors (sw) 21. Suitors (r) 22. Ancient Greek: Epilogue (sw). Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Philpott, C., Humberstone, J. (2016). The Glitter Gang (1973-74): A Microcosm of Malcolm Williamson's Views on Social Inclusivity and His Australian Identity. Musicology Australia, 38(1), 1-28. [More Information]
  • Humberstone, J. (2016). Track 1-3 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 1 (3:00) Version 2 (2:12) Version 3 (1:14) Track 9 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 4 (3:26) Tracks 11-12 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 5 (4:09) Version 6 (2:54) Track 14 CYCLES AND CIRCLES Version 7 (4:24). On CYCLES + CIRCLES, CD, Sydney, Australia: Ensemble Offspring.

2015

  • Humberstone, J. (2015). 1. crossing the line i 2. crossing the line ii 3. crossing the line iii 4. crossing the line iv 5. codes 6. mate-ship 7. hmas voyager : in memoriam 8. gun bay 9. family 10. second secrets 11. seventh secrets 12.chamber surgery 13. nerve centre 14.waves 15.palindromes. Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J. (2015). Defining creativity for a more pluralist approach to music education. ASME XXth National Conference - Music: Educating for life, Parkville, Victoria: Australian Society for Music Education.
  • Humberstone, J., Taylor, J. (2015). Making Music Learning Fun - Designing an Interactive iBook for Informal Learning. ACMC2015 - MAKE!, Sydney, Australia: The Australasian Computer Music Association.
  • Humberstone, J., Fox, R. (2015). Waterside Adventures. Beijing, China: Self Published.

2014

  • Humberstone, J. (2014). The Very Music of the Name. Sydney, Australia: Self Published.

2013

  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Before Day. Sydney, Australia: Hummingsong Music Publications Pty Ltd.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Campanella. Sydney, Australia: Hummingsong Music Publications Pty Ltd.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Computer-aided analysis of Malcolm Williamson's approach to composing his cassations for musically-untrained children. XIX National Australian Society for Music Education Conference (ASME 2013), Parkville, Australia: Australian Society for Music Education.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Passion. Sydney, Australia: Self Published.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Sibelius 7 Music Notation Essentials. Boston, USA: Avid Technology Inc.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). The Riemann Hypothesis. Sydney, Australia: Hummingsong Music Publications Pty Ltd.
  • Humberstone, J. (2013). Three for Two Flutes: 1. mannasaettir i 2. mannasaettir ii 3. mannasaettir iii. Sydney, Australia: Reed Music Pty Ltd.

2010

  • Johnston, A., Humberstone, J. (2010). Elective Music Students Experiences with Jam2Jam. The 7th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment, Wellington, New Zealand: Interactive Entertainment.
  • Humberstone, J. (2010). Not just an experience: The children's opera "kiravanu' as a medium for learning. Music in Action, 7(5), 15-17.

2009

  • Humberstone, J. (2009). The Creative Teacher: How to use technology to produce learning materials. Music in Action, 7(1), 8-11.

2008

  • Humberstone, J. (2008). Following the least-trodden paths. Resonate, (2).
  • Humberstone, J., Ricketson, D. (2008). Stepping stones: teacher resource kit. Sydney, Australia: Australian Music Centre.

For support on your academic profile contact .