Passing the Baton: Amanda Pang and Matthew Garvie

Passing the baton is an ANAM exclusive series featuring some of ANAM's 2021 alumni and new first year musicians.

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Words by:
Amanda Pang (piano 2020) and Matthew Garvie (piano NSW)

Prior to the year commencing, we invited a number of incoming ANAM musicians to seek wisdom from a few  most recent alum. In this latest release of Passing the Baton, recent alumna Amanda Pang pens a letter to first year pianist Matthew Garvie answering some of his questions about the piano faculty and sharing her experiences training with ANAM Head of Piano Tim Young


Amanda Pang (piano 2020)

 Hey there Matthew,

Congratulations and welcome to ANAM! I’m so excited for you :)

Thanks for your great questions. Hopefully I can give you a bit of an insight into what you can expect from ANAM, whilst also indulging myself a little by reflecting on my own experiences.

Matthew: How do you feel you’ve evolved as a musician through ANAM’s training? Did you have a path in mind that you worked towards specifically, or were you involved with as much as you could be?

Amanda: I’m so thankful to Tim Young and ANAM for how far I’ve come during these last three years. I’ve changed in many ways as a musician and person, but to narrow it down, the two major things that have evolved are my approach to piano playing, and how I go about programming and selecting repertoire.

Thanks to Tim’s knowledge and guidance, I now feel like I have a much deeper understanding of the relationship between movement and sound; specifically, the physiology of the hand and body and its relation to sound production and control on the piano. In my very first lesson, I was confronted with the fact that I had many common but unhelpful and counterproductive playing habits that were hindering my ability to express my musical intentions. I also learned that these habits would likely lead to injury and negatively affect the longevity of my playing career. Thankfully, Tim helped set me on a path towards a more unfettered way of piano playing and musical expression.

You can also expect Tim to get nerdy about piano mechanics and to bring out his key-action model within the first few weeks of piano classes. I personally found these discussions to be fascinating and invaluable. I think it’s a real game-changer when one is able to be conscious of how all the moving parts are influencing tone quality, articulation, and dynamic. It’s certainly helped me find greater refinement and nuance in my own playing.

In terms of whether I had decided on a path for my time at ANAM, I did have a general plan of what I wanted to do and achieve, but I also allowed myself to be flexible in changing those plans. My initial intention was to spend a year immersing myself in the ANAM program whilst also doing some external competitions. However, as I went through my first year, I decided that I personally needed to focus my efforts on adjusting my technique and managing the workload of the program. During this time, I also realised that I needed to reconsider my approach to selecting repertoire and programming. Having been accustomed to being prescribed repertoire (often competition or exam based), ANAM’s encouragement of thoughtful and creative program curation was quite new to me. I’m now a lot more considerate of the audience’s journey and inclined to program pieces in a way that allows listeners to follow a narrative. I also think it’s incredibly valuable to speak to your audience and guide them through that journey.

Matthew Garvie during his first week at ANAM
Matthew Garvie (piano NSW) practising in one of ANAM's practice rooms.
Photo by: Pia Johnson for ANAM

Matthew: What has been your favourite project/performance in your time at ANAM? Was it because of the experience, repertoire, partnerships/collaborations?

Amanda: It’s so difficult to pick just one project/ performance as everything that I’ve participated in over the last three years has been uniquely worthwhile. Having said that, the 2021 ANAM Set commissioning project was a particularly massive feat that I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of. I had the huge privilege of working with Brett Dean on his piece Byrdsong Studies for harpsichord and pre-recorded voices. I was quite out of my comfort zone but I learned so much from the experience of working with him and playing the harpsichord. It was also amazing to have simply been a part of the process of creating a brand new Australian work that is likely to be performed for many years to come.

Matthew: And a final piece of advice for a first year student?

Amanda: Things can get pretty busy and hectic at ANAM so make sure you have a calendar/ planner to stay organised with all the projects. Be open to new experiences and unfamiliar situations - these are often the ones that you grow from the most. Learn and connect with your fellow musicians and take advantage of all the knowledge that the faculty have to share. All in all, have fun, work hard, and make the most of the unique and wonderful place that ANAM is.

Hopefully I’ll catch you around the Convent sometime next year! All the best for the move down.



Amanda is performing with fellow ANAM alumni Noah Rudd (oboe 2021) and Jye Todorov (bassoon 2021) in a concert reflecting their journeys as musicians post-ANAM. ANAM Prizewinners Concert: open waters will be on 4 May at the Primrose Potter Salon, MRC. Tickets available now!

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