University flautist named top SA teacher for 2010

Originally published at:

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

University of Adelaide flute teacher Elizabeth Koch OAM has been named the most outstanding university teacher in South Australia in 2010 by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Associate Professor Koch, who is Head of Woodwind and also Performance at the University’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, has received one of 24 national awards for teaching excellence in a tertiary institution – and the only one from this State.

In a teaching and performance career spanning 35 years, the accomplished flautist credits her students, colleagues and fellow musicians for the award.

“I love teaching because every single day I learn something different. I don’t think the students realise this, but the fact that each one has a unique personality, different ability and technical style actually informs my own teaching,” she says.

Associate Professor Koch has also kept pace with innovative new teaching methods, including being the first university music teacher in Australia to use Wimba Voice, a web-based vocal instruction software tool, to improve her students’ flute playing skills.

The software enables students to record practise sessions in the privacy of their room and upload them on to the University’s website where they are directly emailed to Associate Professor Koch for her feedback.

“It means I can give the students instructions and advice in between their weekly face-to-face lessons so they learn to analyse and dissect their practice in a much more useful way. If they are playing the flute in front of me for one hour and then spending 20 hours at home practising, I can pinpoint incorrect techniques during the course of that week. It is a fantastic breakthrough in teaching,” she says.

“It has made a big difference to their approach to playing and time management, and I am also learning how to refine my teaching methods so the information sticks with them.”

Associate Professor Koch says constant interaction with her colleagues and music peers around the world is essential in her own professional development.

“Attending conferences, performances and networking with music teachers exposes you to different teaching techniques which you can then adapt for your own students.”

She recruits guest musicians for lectures and master classes to keep her lessons fresh and also runs mock orchestral auditions so students learn how to perform under pressure.

In January 2011 Associate Professor Koch is also taking six flute students to London and Paris for a three-week tour. This will include classes with some of the world’s best flautists at the Royal College of Music, BBC Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Ecole Normale Superieur.

Associate Professor Koch took up the flute in her second year at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, initially enrolling to study piano and then beginning her flute study with Professor David Cubben.

“I just fell in love with it. It was the perfect fit for me,” she says.

She graduated with First Class Honours in both flute and piano and was awarded a Master of Music Degree in Flute Performance in 1980.

Associate Professor Koch played with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for 27 years before joining the University of Adelaide in 2002 as a full-time teacher.

She has also performed with the Australian Youth Orchestra, Adelaide Chamber Orchestra and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra among others, and was Artistic Director of the Australian Flute Festival held at the University of Adelaide in 2009.

Associate Professor Koch was awarded an OAM in 2006 for her services to flute music and for the mentoring of young musicians.

She is also the recipient of a number of University prizes, including the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty Prize, a Carrick Citation and the Stephen Cole the Elder Excellence in Teaching Prize.

Among her most outstanding protégé Associate Professor Koch names flautist Anouvong Liensavanh (South Australia’s top arts graduate for 2009 who is now studying at Yale University); Hayley Radke, Associate Principal Flute for Queensland Orchestra; Amy Ellks, Fulbright Scholarship recipient; and Lisa Gill, Second Flute in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

To hear Associate Professor Koch and her students perform, go to