4: 2017 Review

I conducted a thorough review of my year (because that’s what I’m like) and came up with the following:

This year I made the decision to start performing solo. After many years of writing, performing and recording in a predominantly supportive role this has been a huge step and an adventure that has come at just the right time in my life. I’m thrilled at the doors that have opened!

In 2017 I wrote songs. A whole lot of songs.
Some of those songs have been recorded.
One has been included on a compilation in support of an environmental justice issue.
One has beat boxing and is about to be included in an online educational resource in a lesson about famous Australians.

I performed around Western Australia (I’m not including that open mic session in Melbourne, apart from telling you now…hmmmm) and had my songs played on radio internationally.

I played with seriously awesome musicians and made beautiful friends.

I created a West Australian history school performance (with Mr Phil Beck) and shared it with students. I even played a banjo 😮

I invested in myself, my skills and musical resources (hellooooo PA system, hellooooo Martin acoustic).
I started giving private tuition and loved working with students aged from 5 – 73.
I created a website (thank you Josie!) and dived headfirst into social media…eek.
I coordinated recording projects for several passionate people; recording and mixing in my home studio.
I am in the middle of recording my first solo album and loving every minute (well MOST minutes!).

Sometimes I feel frustrated and that I haven’t done enough. There isn’t enough time in the day for the things I want to do! When I write a list I feel that I have actually done quite ALOT. That’s a relief.

So here’s to 2018. Thank you so much for your support, I’m not sure you know what it means to me to have you come to a show, listen to and share my music, and send me feedback as so many of you do. And with 2018 on our doorstep, here’s a New Year’s Eve toast: Here’s to chasing your dreams. Here’s to moving forward, getting things doooonnneee. Here’s to laughing and crying and being the best person you can be in this crazy world.


3: Why Music?

Why Music?
Some of you know. Some of you have seen. Some of you have experienced the power of music in your own life, or your children’s lives, or the lives of those to whom you are close.

Perhaps you haven’t had the privilege of seeing music change a person’s life one step at a time. Perhaps you never had the opportunity to learn an instrument yourself. Maybe you had bad experiences; teachers who shamed or punished you. I hear that many have terrible memories of the recorder…that’s a shame, especially if music was something you desired to learn.

Below are my thoughts on why music is important in learning. There is an ocean of research available for those who want more data.


Neurobiological evidence keeps coming at us. It shows clearly that music is unique in how it affects the human brain.

Speech and music are interconnected – they share many processing systems in the brain. Musical experiences that enhance processing (such as learning to play an instrument) also impact students’ abilities to learn to read and assist many mathematical abilities.

Neuroscientists have found that playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once; visual, auditory and motor cortices. These brain functions are strengthened and can then be applied to other areas.

Arguably one of the greatest minds, Albert Einstein was an accomplished violinist. “I often think in music,” he said.

I suggest watching Dr Anita Collins’ ‘How Playing An Instrument Benefits The Brain’ video as a starting point to find out more.

Those who learn to play instruments show;
*increased resilience (they bounce back from problems more quickly and easily).
*increased ability to deal with anxiety.
*increased likelihood to make healthy life choices.
*improved self-confidence.
*better team work skills as they develop an appreciation of working towards shared goals.
*improved school attendance.

Einstein also said, “I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin”.

I haven’t always taught music. I have taught the ‘Three R’s’ and the rest. I’ve even taught swimming (thank you Austswim!). Although teaching at the beach is great, music is my favourite. As a musician, classroom Music specialist teacher, instrumental music teacher and choir director I am fortunate enough to be in a position to see what it does for people every day.

Here are a few things that teaching music has taught me;
*Some people have natural ability. Some people have passion. Some people have natural ability AND passion. Some people have only a small amount of either. Music benefits all of these students.
*Fear keeps some people away from full participation in music (especially as they enter the pre-teen years). Fear also keeps some educators away from singing or playing an instrument with their students. It’s well worth beating that fear. Pick up your guitar. Sing a song each day. My Year 7 teacher did this and it changed my life.
*Music lights people up. It carries meaning. Music unites people (see the Singing Revolution of Estonia 1986 – 1991).
*It’s never too late to get involved in music. Currently I teach students aged between 5 and 76. Music benefits all of them.

So what are you waiting for? Adding some music to your day can only improve it!


2: Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Hear: Let the sounds arrive at your ears.

Then listen. Hearing is biological. Real listening takes effort.

Consider the sounds of the instruments; the EQ, the reverb, the effects, the panning.
Study the vocals; the timbre, the pitch, the emotion.
Use good studio headphones, monitors, then try your car stereo to analyse what your audience will hear.

Stand before another human being and really hear them.
Consider the words. What is unsaid? Notice the tone and inflections. See the facial expression and body language.

To be listened to is to be valued.
To be heard and ignored is a death.

Does someone ignore your words?
Past hurts build walls. People don’t listen well through walls.
Sometimes you can help them over their walls, sometimes they are happier hiding behind them.

Ears are for hearing. Listening takes ears AND heart.

This beautiful painting is ‘Untitled’ by Sian Brown.
Sian is a singer-songwriter who has recently found painting as another way to sing a song.


1: Creativity

I’ve read a lot about creativity recently; the expression of the soul.
Without it we fade away. With it we become the person we were meant to be.

I know people who are personally fulfilled because they have a meaningful connection to the world; a thread of fine silver links their heart to the intricate net of threads which hold the world together. I know others whose sparkle in their eyes has dulled.

Creativity requires commitment – a daily decision to stay true to yourself. That’s not always easy in a world of bills to be paid and people crying out for their needs to be met.

The Artist’s Way‘ calls us to make an ‘artist date’ with ourselves; to do something once a week to inspire us or physically engaging in the creative process. Personally, my best ‘artist dates’ are when I write or record. Although I have a day job (which also allows me to be somewhat creative), this ‘writing, recording and performing music’ job is phenomenally important to me. As Clare Bowditch says, ‘You don’t have to be just one thing, but you have to start with something‘.

Here’s me starting with something; I stepped out of my comfort zone and drew on my old Fender acoustic with permanent marker (gasp!shock!horror!). It took time and brazen permanent-marker-wielding-courage but was super satisfying; I brought something of myself into the world.

What makes your eyes shine? Jane Goodall tells a story about the way her mother encouraged her gift, her unique creativity, from a young age. Jane, at the age of 4, had been missing for hours while watching a chicken to see how an egg was laid. “Despite her worry, when mum, still searching, saw the excited little girl rushing toward the house, she did not scold me. She noticed my shining eyes and sat down to listen to the story of how a hen lays an egg: the wonder of that moment when the egg finally fell to the ground”.

Humans are naturally creative and there are a multitude of ways to create. Let’s participate in and encourage this human-ness wherever we can. Let’s get to local gigs (mine or otherwise!), exhibitions, poetry slams, house concerts. Let’s paint, write songs and stories, grow gardens, build go-karts, design comics. Let’s notice the sparkle in someone’s (perhaps even our own) eyes and follow where it leads. This is living baby!


About Jenny Gaunt

Jenny Gaunt is a songwriter and musician from Perth, Australia. Her folk/alternative style has been described as “hauntingly beautiful”.

Vocals, keyboard and guitar feature in live performances. Currently collecting songs for an album due in 2017, her recordings also incorporate cello, ukulele, bass and percussion.

Jenny has released 5 albums and EPs with acclaimed duo The Littlest Fox (2011 – ), and has performed their music across Australia and Europe.

Jenny has found a new voice in her solo material. Her music is more personal and mixes the lighthearted with the melancholy in perfect proportion.

She likes being outdoors, under a tree, with a good book (preferably with her dog).