Meet Hannes Lackmann, Master of Music (Performance Teaching) graduate, University of Melbourne

Hannes Lackmann. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Hannes Lackmann. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

Percussionist Hannes Lackmann was performing regularly on the Melbourne music scene after graduating – so what inspired this Jazz & Improvisation graduate to pursue teaching?

By Kelly Southworth

About five years ago I made the choice to pursue music as a career. At that time I was mostly interested in performance, so I studied the Bachelor of Music (Jazz & Improvisation) at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. The course had a great reputation so it was an easy choice for me. It turned out to be a great decision – it gave me most of the tools I needed to fulfill my artistic endeavours, and I’ve since developed and maintained rich relationships with staff and colleagues.

After graduating I was performing regularly, and teaching drums in and around Melbourne. I began to develop a passion for teaching and wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what, why and how to teach, so I applied for the Master of Music (Performance Teaching).

My favourite class was a one-on-one in my area of specialisation – jazz drumming. This might involve a thorough analysis of my playing, working through technical exercises, or discussing the philosophy of music or ensemble playing. Some days I was on placement at Caulfield Grammar, giving percussion lessons, or helping direct small ensembles; other days I might be performing solo in a class, or taking a second instrument class.

Playing the music that I love is a constant source of inspiration. Also, seeing, hearing and being at great performances – whether it’s live music, circus or poetry – is a must. It’s fuel. But as a teacher, there’s nothing more inspiring than curious students who are discovering themselves and their artistic voice through learning to play an instrument. Recently, one of my students began composing her own songs, carefully considering all the element – melody, harmony, rhythm, form, lyrics – even the recording and instrumentation. To see her making her own decisions about music and having those decisions come to fruition in a creative project is incredibly inspiring.

Conducting an ensemble is by far one of the most challenging things I’ve experienced. I’d never done it before, so it was great to have had the opportunity to overcome some fears and develop the skills for this field during my first semester in the masters degree.

Creating strong relationships with staff, and fellow colleagues was wonderful. I was very grateful to be in a space where like-minded people could collaborate, create, experiment and question our assumptions about music, teaching and art.

The highlight of my course was learning Alexander Technique and developing new ways of listening and using the body more effortlessly.

I recently travelled to Switzerland to learn from one of my favourite composers, Nik Bärtsch.

L-R: Jazz drummer and teacher Hannes Lackmann with the Melbourne Conservatorium’s Heidi Ching. Image by Giulia McGauran.

In the next few years I’d really like to direct my own percussion ensemble, whether at a school or in a community setting. I’d also like to release plenty of music, either with my own groups or as a co-writer/performer.

The Master of Music (Performance Teaching) allowed me to develop my skills as an educator, through a deep understanding of the role and scope of the instrumental teacher. While studying at the Conservatorium, I was offered employment at a fantastic institution, and I’m confident I wouldn’t have been offered this kind of opportunity had I not continued with postgraduate study. The degree exposed me to what I didn’t know, to what I assumed, and to what I knew intuitively, and I couldn’t have had that kind of development without the aid of incredibly dedicated staff at the Conservatorium.

If I could give advice to future Conservatorium students, it’d be to keep an open mind, especially to things or people that challenge you, or that go against your impulse. Develop in equal parts a sense of honesty and a sense of humour with yourself.

Since graduating, I’ve started teaching drums and percussion at two schools, where I’m also directing and conducting the percussion ensembles. I’ve been recording an album with a big band called The Wirecutters, led by a fantastic bass player and arranger, Oscar Neyland. I’m composing, managing and performing regularly with my band RAMEN, and hope to record and realise our second EP later this year.

Sometimes to relax I’ll simply lie down flat on my back, with my knees up and slightly bent – I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Surfing, swimming, meditation and yoga also help me to relax, and I consider them part of my practice. Spending time with my friends, family and cat is also great therapy and stress-release.

Feed your passion for classical and contemporary music by learning to teach others with the Master of Music (Performance Teaching) at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. Applications for mid-year entry are closing 12 June. Apply now.