Sometimes doing what you love takes a whole lot of hard work. 

Though she loved music from a young age, UNE Bachelor of Music student Caitlin Annesley says her stop-start story is ‘somewhat unusual’.

Beginning piano lessons at age seven and adding clarinet when she fell in love with orchestra music on TV, Caitlin was soon playing in school and concert bands before switching the clarinet for the viola at 12 years old.

But in high school, she nearly packed it all in: “I spent most of high school exploring other art forms. I considered becoming first a dancer and then an actor, but I soon began to sense that I had more limits to my abilities in those areas than I did in music, which prompted my decision to return to serious study”.

An unexpected opportunity to learn from visiting professionals from the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra at the end of high school, while part of the Regional Youth Orchestra, had her doubting her abilities: “I was a long way behind the other viola players, making me realise that I would need to work very hard to catch up”, but inspired her enough to pursue music at university this year.

“I chose UNE’s Bachelor of Music program for its flexibility, which would allow me to study at home at my own pace, whilst still allowing me to travel up once a week to have a lesson on my principal instrument with a wonderful New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM) teacher, Laura Curotta,” she says.

“Participation in the course has allowed me to attend workshops with renowned viola teachers, and acted as a factor for my acceptance into the 2019 Regional Youth Orchestra, which culminated in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony at the conclusion of the 2019 Artstate festival in Tamworth.”

While her playing improved throughout the first year of her studies in 2019, most importantly, so did her belief in herself.

“I was very rigid at the start of the year and believed that improvement on an instrument was solely to do with talent, and that the hard work that I had to put in to catch up on technique was the result of a lack of talent. However, I soon realised that the hard work I was putting in was what most people who eventually master their craft do, and that mastery was a slow process that took many years rather than just as a result of prodigious natural talent,” she says.

Caitlin has found new enjoyment in her instrument, which has helped her keep a musical career in her sights.

“My favourite part about playing music is listening to the fascinating sounds that can be created by an instrument or group, and also the personal satisfaction from having done something to enrich the lives of others.

“My greatest ambition at this stage would be to gain acceptance into an Australian Youth Orchestra program, but I hope that one day I can find myself in a satisfying and exciting musical career, whatever form that may take.”