Naomi Dickers is a young Tasmanian brass musician (Tuba to be exact) who has benefited from the support of her TSO teachers. Earlier this year Naomi became the 2020 recipient of the TSO Rising Star Award. Cath caught up with Naomi to ask her about winning this sought-after award and her musical journey to date.
Congratulations on winning TSO’s 2020 Rising Star Award Naomi! What does this award mean to you?
To be honest, I’m completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of winning this award. When I entered, I hadn’t performed live for over 8 months. I was just so excited to have people there who wanted to listen to me play. The fact that I now get to perform with the TSO?! Well I haven’t even wrapped my head around it, it’s incredible - I still can’t believe it.
Now that you have an opportunity to perform with the TSO, what piece would you love to play?
To be perfectly honest, my absolute favourite piece from the tuba repertoire is the one I performed for my audition, the Tuba Concerto by Edward Gregson. It’s an absolute classic and so much fun to perform!
When did your love of music begin?
When I was 7 years old, my parents encouraged me to join a band, so I joined my local community band in Ulverstone (a town on the North West coast of Tasmania). As you can imagine, no-one gives a 7-year-old a Tuba (it would have been bigger than me!) so I started on the cornet. At age 13 my teacher suggested I try the tuba - which I was terrifying - but as soon as I played it, I just fell in love.
How important is family support when you are learning an instrument?
I would not be where I am today without that support! It’s so important. My parents always made sure I had opportunities to play - they would drive me to competitions, eisteddfods, lessons etc. They have been so supportive throughout my music career, they’re incredible.
Do you feel that music has made an impact on other areas of your life?
Music was a huge part of my education as I was home-schooled. I got to travel interstate a lot and have new experiences, including many music festivals – I made lifelong friends. Music has given me a passion to want to learn. The more you learn the more fun it is. That has flowed on to other areas in my life.
For example, I’ll be writing a research essay and think - if I was working on my Tuba how would I tackle this? I’m able to apply skills I have learnt through practising my instrument into the practice of other things.
Why did you choose a brass instrument?
It was a practical choice for me as there was a Brass band near my home. I love the sound of brass instruments, there is something powerful about them. And Tuba … well I guess I didn’t think I would get this far with Tuba, but I really like playing something a bit different!
Tell me a bit about the teachers that have influenced you.
My first teacher was Chris Lusted who taught the Ulverstone Municipal Band for many decades. He was an incredible player who had a real passion for community music. He was the first person to show me how much fun it could be. Sadly, Chris passed away in 2016.
Now I am in Hobart studying at the Conservatorium with new teachers, Mitch, Tim and Dave (TSO Brass musicians Mitch Nissen, Tim Jones and David Robins). It’s so cool having them teach me, then seeing them perform with the TSO. I get to see what they teach in practice.
So, what makes a good teacher do you think?
Someone who is passionate about making music and passionate about their students. I have been so lucky to have teachers that are passionate about both! They have all been so generous with their time and knowledge.
What are you playing at the moment?
One of my favourites is English composer Paul Lovatt-Cooper who wrote a lot of music for the Salvation Army bands. His music is inspiring, and much of it is based on church hymns which has an historical richness that I love.
Is there anything else you would like to say to our supporters?
Since winning the TSO Rising Star Award, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of people that are excited for me. Having people around me who enjoy listening to music makes me feel incredibly supported. For me Tuba playing is one of my favourite things in the world and I get so much joy out of it. Thank you so much!