Jeanell Carrigan with Heleen Du Plessis and Bridget Douglas: Training the Collaborative Pianist: Debunking Myths and Developing Teaching Strategies.

Accompanist? Associate artist? Collaborative Pianist? Ensemble pianist? Which title best suits the highly skilled pianist who chooses to work in ensemble and collaborative situations? Is there any difference between them and solo pianists or is it all a matter of terminology? There is currently much debate about the differences in wages and standards between men and women. Racism and racially prejudiced behaviour is always in the news but where is the discussion concerning the outrageous ignorance and sometimes disgraceful discrimination involving those pianists who choose to play repertoire that is written for two instruments, one of which is a piano. This ignorance is not only perpetuated by the so-called ‘music-loving’ general public but by fellow musicians in the profession.

After many years of being treated as a musician of lesser standing and importance the pianist who plays with vocalists and instrumentalists is becoming recognised as a worthy partner. As an article in the March 2010 Strad magazine stated – “There is no such thing as a piano ‘accompanist’” and the article states very clearly why the title has become so misleading. Conservatoria, Universities and Music schools internationally are now offering specialised training in collaborative arts and the argument to decide on correct terminology, terminology which adequately describes the discipline, is continuously being fought.

This presentation will focus on the pianist who chooses to collaborate with other musicians – and how to best obtain the necessary skills to make the choice a worthwhile and fulfilling one.

Jeanell Carrigan studied piano at the Sydney and Queensland Conservatoriums and then in Europe with Nancy Salas, Leah Horwitz, Pamela Page, Alfons Kontarsky and Karl Engel. She has held positions of employment at the Hochschulen für Musik in Stuttgart and Munich, the Universities of Queensland and Melbourne and the Queensland and Sydney Conservatoriums of Music. She is constantly in demand as an examiner and adjudicator and is presently an Associate Professor in the Collaborative Piano unit at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (University of Sydney).


Jeanell has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and throughout Australia, and has recorded for the Bavarian Radio Corporation, the ABC and for regional stations in Australia on many occasions. As a member of the Novalis Quartet, Trio Novalis and Richter/Carrigan Duo she performs regularly for Musica Viva and other concert organisations.


She completed a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong in the area of Australian post-1970 solo piano repertoire and in December 2017 released her eighteenth solo CD of Australian piano music. Her publications include an annotated guide to Australian solo piano music available in its seventh edition, the book Composing Against the Tide, several teaching kits relating to the performance of Australian piano music and nine critical editions of piano music as part of the Australian Heritage Series.


Dunedin-born Bridget Douglas completed her undergraduate music studies at Victoria University of Wellington studying flute with Alexa Still. Study in the USA followed with the assistance of a Fulbright Graduate Award. On completion of a MMus at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (studying flute with Samuel Baron) Bridget was a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra for a season.


While in the USA, Bridget won several competitions including the New York Flute Club Young Artist’s Competition and an Artists International Award, resulting in recitals at New York’s CAMI Hall and Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. She was 3rd placegetter in the Tilden Prize in New York and a semi-finalist at the International Flute Competition in Markneukirchen (Germany).


Bridget returned to NZ in 1997 to join the NZSO as Associate Principal Flute and was appointed Section Principal Flute in 2000. She is an Artist Teacher in Flute at the New Zealand School of Music. She is a member of the harp/flute duo Flight, wind quintet Zephyr and the contemporary ensemble Stroma. Bridget is actively involved in performing and commissioning contemporary music and has released many CD’s that feature NZ music. She performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Australasia and is regularly featured on Radio NZ Concert.

Cellist HeleenDu Plessis is a graduate of the Conservatory of Geneva, the Peabody Institute and the University of Otago, and has studied with esteemed masters Starker, Rostropovich, Litschauer, Peled, Grosgurin and Aaron. She has appeared as a soloist and with leading artists, chamber groups and orchestras in South Africa, USA, New Zealand and Europe.

An established performer of the classical repertoire, Heleen also presents research-based performance outputs of new music and music that crosses cultures and genres. Her DMA project Cello for Africa combined the cello with African instruments, fusing musical styles to explore, perform, and reinforce her South African identity. The resulting CD was one of five nominated for the prestigious International Listener’s Choice Awards. Her multimedia performance Cellists Aotearoa at the 2016 Dunedin Arts Festival assembled poetry, videos and NZ landscape photography curated to apply theories of landscape and music as markers and reinforcers of identity. A recent grant from CNZ to commission a work by Gareth Farr for marimba and cello will form part of a 2019 CMNZ tour with marimba virtuoso Yoshiko Tsuruta.

Heleen lectures in the pedagogy of music teaching, music theory, and cello at the University of Otago. She is director of the cello ensemble, Cellists of Otago.


How long is this presentation?

1 hr 15 min 


What do you need to view the presentation? 

A browser capable of playing YouTube video.

Audio output (speakers)



Prices: All prices listed include GST

Membership LevelPrice
Institute of Registered Music Teachers Free
Non-members $35.00

Login to Enrol


Create a new account