Student Profile – Sister Ursuline

SISTER URSULINE is a Sydney-based cello-wielding songwriter with a soft spot for pigeons, bloomers, and hidden historical stories of woe-begone women and confounding men. The first song she brought to me became the name-sake of her alter Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.54.15 pmego, Sister Ursuline. Sister Ursuline was a real person—a well-meaning former nun who somehow mistakenly ended up interned in a mental institution.

Sister Ursuline’s fascination with little-known historical characters turned into a full-blown obsession, and sparked a series of cello-webbed songs exploring their narratives and sometimes strange motivations.

I love thatSister Ursuline is unafraid to write from the perspective of people on the edge—on the edge of proper society, and sometimes dangling off the edge of their own minds.

You can hear Sister Ursuline’s song, In The East River, below. In The East River plunges a wet hand into the world of a woman who served a double crime: spreading contagion, made worse by the condition of being a woman and a servant. History knows her as Typhoid Mary.

You can find out more about Sister Ursuline’s music at her Facebook page.



Congratulations to Doris Folkens and Heather Elliot for having their song, ‘Lanterns’, place as a finalist in the Stewart Park Festival Songwriting Competition. Doris, Heather and I worked together on this song last year. You can hear the song here:


What Can Business Learn from Songwriters?

I was kindly invited by Soren Trampedach and Work Club Global, in collaboration with the Sydney-based organisation Affectors, to present an information session on some of the Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.13.55 pmcraft and process of a songwriter and musician. The audience were entrepreneurs and culture creators. The discussion that came about found fascinating interplays between language in song and language in all types of communication.

An excerpt is provided below, but you can read the whole article and listen to the discussion by clicking HERE.

Keppie played with language, testing us all on our ability to recall certain words, she shared the theory and the practice of song craft and she played some beautiful indie folk tunes that were open to interpretation.

And in the space of 2 hours, relaxing on a lounge enjoying wine and cheese, I learned three business relevant insights:

1. We must show people what we mean, rather than tell them, even if it’s with their imagination. We can do this by painting a picture with words that our audience can relate to.

2. Sense based language is far more memorable than task orientated words. When I talk about a strategy and use words like ‘approach’ and ‘task’ they don’t stay in the mind as easily as nouns (Keppie proved this with an audience participation experiment). So I’m going to re-evaluate my language and look to bring more colour to ‘strategic dialogue’ in future.

3. Evocative words, memorable language, losing yourself in the music – all of these create an experience in music that’s carefully crafted around notes, but also silences, pauses and spaces. We can be afraid of silence and so keen to fill it – but what if we don’t? What if we allow people to create meaning and to connect with us in the same way they connect with a piece of music. Wouldn’t this allow us to have far more interesting relationships?

VIDEO: The Psychology of Lyrics

Thanks to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for hosting their first inaugural Teach Meet – a public lecture series of music educators presenting a short demonstration of an effective classroom tool.

You’ll need a pen and paper to do the quick exercise at the beginning of the lecture. Enjoy!


Soft Songs for Sleepy People

Exactly 11 months and 30 days ago I was 8 and a half months pregnant. That’s a lot of pregnant, by the way. It is so much human inside another human.


At that exact time, I also made ONE single new year’s resolution: that I would release these 3 songs, which I had virtually finished writing and recording while being that full of another human. It seemed like a reasonable goal for 2015, and I smugly believed that with some minor mixing to do and an hour on the internet, they would be out in the world by February, latest.


It turns out that having a baby is, um, time consuming. So here we are: December. But! I am pretty excited to have stopped showering, cooking, and going outside for the past few days (who needs hygiene, protein, or sunshine anyway?) in order to stave off the wave of self-flagellation that would engulf me if I failed the one and only resolution I made 11 months and 30 days ago…


These songs are a labour of love (teehee!). They are bedtime songs, written in a flurry of contemplation and love for the tiny human nestling in my body.


They are meant to be played as the sun is setting, as stars are flickering into light, and people are becoming gentle, warm, and cozy. I hope some of these words are whispered by parents to their children, from one loved one to another. They are soft songs for sleepy people. I hope you enjoy them!

The Secrets of Successful Collaboration

Reposting here a short article I wrote for ASCAP a while ago, with some thoughts and musings about successful collaborations, and some of the transformations that can happen in the process…

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 11.39.05 AM


Creative collaboration is very much like dating. I can’t think of any other experience that comes close to the strange alchemy that either happens, or doesn’t. Everyone has that person in their life, someone you really admired and were absolutely sure if they just returned the admiration that you would dance, heel-clicking, off into the horizon…only to discover that your dream came half-true. You DID get close to that person, and found out that they only brush their teeth twice a week. Or yell at their mother. Or give you dirty looks when you eat meat. The idea of what you think your partnership will be doesn’t turn out to have the right chemistry even though you were sure it would. Well, creative collaboration is very similar, and also similar in the way that you get better at predicting success, knowing what to look for, being totally fine when it doesn’t work out, and counting your lucky stars when it does.

The article continues here: ASCAP