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Music Educator Career Profile: Ruth Bonetti

Case Studies

February 10, 2015

From shy bush kid to world traveller

Careers in music can often lead to travel and work opportunities overseas, and Ruth Bonetti epitomises that. She started as a clarinettist and is now a widely published writer and international speaker, presenting motivational talks and professional development seminars around Australia and overseas.

“My gift for music became my passport to travel the world”, says Bonetti, who describes herself here as an author, presenter, musician and educator.

She started off in her own words as “a shy bush kid”, but found that performance helped increase her own confidence. She was inspired in turn to help nervous students and examination candidates with constructive tips to overcome performance anxiety.

The result was that she wrote books on the subject, including Confident Music Performance and Practice is a Dirty Word – How to clean up your act.

As a performer, Bonetti won the ABC Instrumental and Vocal Competition (Qld) and says she owes much to Queensland Youth Orchestra, with whom she played principal clarinet for six years and toured Europe as soloist. After participating at National Music Camps and in the Australian Youth Orchestra, she lived in England, Sweden, France and Germany, teaching clarinet and playing freelance and chamber music. She also played with Norrlands Opera and Regionmusiken in Sweden, and was on the faculty of Lutheran Summer Music in the USA for two summers.

On returning to Australia, she taught clarinet and its pedagogy at the Queensland Conservatorium and St Peters Lutheran College, Indooroopilly.

Bonetti says she remembers her own student days when she didn’t know how to make the most of practice time, and believes that

learning to enjoy practice and using one’s practice time productively are key to succeeding as a musician.

“In my workshops with students,” she says, “I would say that however many tips I give, if you haven’t practised you can’t expect to escape nerves”.

“I know lots of people who wish they’d held in there a bit longer. Turn down the volume of those nagging voices in your head. Instead,

focus on the outcome you desire – to inspire, to entertain, to win.”

Details of her books here.

Ruth Bonetti’s advice on embarking on musical careers

  • Are straight paths in music a bit of a myth, and ‘wiggly paths’ more the reality now?

“I can give a short answer: ‘absolutely’, as I always prefer curved to straight and have made an art form of multi-skilling. I’m relieved that Leonardo da Vinci’s style is more accepted now than in my youth, when one started on a path and followed it whatever.”

Further tips for musical success from her website:

  • “Whether we perform through words or music, the fear of making mistakes in public can inhibit, even paralyse. But we learn more from our worst moments than we do from our best.”
  • “Develop your ‘confidence muscle’ by stretching beyond your comfort zone.”
  • “Allow yourself to be vulnerable to listeners and they’ll more likely warm to you than tab your mistakes.”
  • “We need to see our supposed ‘failures’ in perspective. The fear of success can be as daunting as fear of failure – for then we must live up to higher expectations.”


Credit: Written by Graham Strahle

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