Health and Wellness Events at the NFA Convention

The National Flute Association Convention is just a few days away now.

Click on the following link to see a list of all Health and Wellness Events taking place at the convention:

Health and Wellness Events

My Top Five Likes and Dislikes About Malaysia

Things I Like about Malaysia:

1. Despite huge differences of religion and cultural backgrounds, I admire that the Malaysians are able to live and work together in such peace and harmony. An example for the rest of the world.

2. Almost everyone I have met can speak a second language to some extent, and many people speak at least three languages fluently.  An example for the English speaking nations.

3. The incredible friendliness, hospitality and generosity of the locals.

4. Delicious food, especially at the hotel buffets.

5. The elegance and stylishness of the Malaysian people.  (Western tourists seem to be the worst dressed people in Malaysia!)


Things I Dislike about Malaysia

1. Small children and youth on motorcycles without helmets

2. Smoking in restaurants

3. Lack of punctuality (the starting time is almost never the starting time!)

4. Rubbish dumped on the side of the street

5. Stray cats



Many thanks to everyone who has been visiting the site and downloading my doctoral thesis and recent article.  If you have come to this blog looking for the links, just scroll down the page to the next two blog posts, and you’ll find them there.  I’m grateful to the FLUTE list, FluteNet, and the Galway list for assisting me in getting word out about my research, which includes the results of my 2007 survey on injury prevention and management for flute players.

Since the beginning of September, I’ve been working in Malaysia as a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts, Sultan Idris Education University (Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris).  The university is in the city of Tanjong Malim (sometimes spelt ‘Tanjung Malim’), a small regional town in the state of Perak.  Many students are working towards teaching careers, however, there is also a strong emphasis on performance.  Many of the lessons and courses are taught in English, partly because there are a number of international students (especially from mainland China) within the faculty, but also to prepare them for the real world of working in the music industry.  While my own students seem a bit shy speaking English, overall they have a fairly good command of the language due to learning it at primary and high school.

There have been so many things going on over the past four months of living in Malaysia, that it’s tricky to know where to go with the blog!  Since I’ve left it so long to write, there are more and more stories to tell!   So, I think I’ll just write the answers to a few of the questions that people seem to be asking:

1. Do I like Malaysia and am I happy?

Yes!  I have a great job combining many of the things I love to do, including researching, performing, lecturing, workshop presenting, and teaching.  The students here all address me as “Dr Karen”, as do all of the administration staff, and most colleagues.  Some senior colleagues who have lived in English-speaking countries call me by my first name only.  The reason the title plus the first name is used in Malaysia is because some people here don’t use their family name, and additionally, the last word in someone’s Muslim Malay name is often their father’s name!

There are obviously huge cultural differences, but everyone has been very patient, helpful and kind, so the transition has in many ways been easier than when I lived in Germany back in the late ’80s/early ’90s.  I’m attending Malay language (Bahasa Melayu) classes, and can already hold a basic conversation totally  in Malay.  At this stage, however, my Malay is broken, but apparently my pronunciation is usually pretty good.  Every day I’m learning new words, and understanding more and more of what’s being said!

Tanjong Malim is away from the main tourist route, so there are only a hand full of westerners living here (two females and two males on staff at the uni, plus a few American students).  For this reason, I get an enormous amount of attention, from people screaming out “yahooooooo” from cars and trucks, to very little children staring at me like they’ve seen a ghost, to random groups of people wanting photos with me, and so on.  It’s a bit like walking on stage every day to be honest!

2. What do I think of the food?

Overall, fantastic!  There is a great mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisine, at very inexpensive prices.  Kuala Lumpur is about an hour and a half away by train, and the shopping centres there have an even bigger variety of Asian and other meals, though they tend to be much more expensive than here in Tanjong Malim.  I love spicy food, but unfortunately also have a very sensitive stomach, so I have to ease off the chilli from time to time!  Western food is expensive here, and tends to be fried or typical of take-away meals, but there are a couple of restaurants in town which offer a selection of good quality meals.

3. Have I seen much of Malaysia?

I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur many times now, and am pretty familiar with all the major shopping complexes!  Haha!!  However, I’ve also visited KL’s wonderful bird park, the Aquaria, Central Markets, Twin Towers, KLCC and surrounding areas, as well as Little India.  I did go on a sight-seeing trip to Ipoh just prior to Christmas, however, I was the victim of a bag snatching where my purse, iPhone, passport, bank cards, and a small amount of money were stolen.  So, unfortunately my memories of Ipoh aren’t really positive at this point!  I’m still in the process of applying for new documentation, which is all very tedious, expensive and annoying.  Bag snatching is apparently very common in Malaysia, and in this case, I believe there were two people involved, one man on a motor cycle who distracted me first before another person on a motor cycle (possibly a female) snatched the bag out of my hand from behind me.   I’ve never had a problem like this before while travelling, and had I not been feeling so ill that day, I think I would have been more alert.  Anyway, I’m safe and have a better understanding of how these criminals work, so will be more vigilant in future.

4. What am I doing?

For this first part of the contract, I lectured in a subject called “Woodwind Techniques” which is designed to prepare pre-service teachers for teaching woodwind instruments in schools.  Additionally, I have six wonderful singing students who are learning a range of pop, folk, jazz, musical theatre and light classical songs.   Commencing in February, I’ll also be lecturing in Choral Techniques!  This will not surprise anyone who knows me fairly well!   My second practical study at the Queensland Conservatorium was singing, and I’ve sung professionally for many years, especially with X-Collective (the former cabaret ensemble with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra). Apart from singing in many choirs and other vocal ensembles (for example, Brisbane State High School Choir, Queensland Youth Choir, Brisbane Chorale, Zebra Crossing), I have also conducted choirs for many years, particularly at the USQ McGregor Summer School in Toowoomba.  When I grew up I was exposed to a very wide range of singers, because everyone in my family had quite a different taste in music: musical theatre, cabaret, big band, jazz, rock, pop, jazz, soul, and so on.   It was at primary and high school that I initially learnt the classical repertoire, and in the meantime, I have played an awful lot of opera both at university and professionally!  The advantage of all this, is that there are a lot of songs in my head!!  I love choosing songs for my students, but especially introducing them to new repertoire they’ve never heard of (such as some of the more recent musicals like Wicked, Rent and Avenue Q.)   It’s fun for me to accompany this music on piano and fall in love with it all over again as well!

At this stage I’m not teaching any flute students, as there is already a teacher on staff and to be honest, I’m enjoying the break for a while.

An additional role for me is as the Co-Supervisor for a very interesting PhD project on the general subject of music competition adjudication.  Since that research is still in its early days, I won’t elaborate on that for now!

5. Have I been back to Australia?

Unexpectedly, I received an offer to perform Copland’s incredible work Appalachian Spring with the Camerata of St. John’s in early December.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, plus the dates happened to be in the same week as the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare conference in Sydney, as well as a concert by Pauline Black and The Selecter (UK), in which a friend of mine was performing.  The stars aligned, and I had a wonderful visit back home for about 10 days.

6. Other news?

Over the past four months, I’ve attended a Muslim wedding, edited two PhD dissertations, evaluated a PhD proposal, played a Malaysian premiere of one of Robert Burrell’s flute pieces, and had long conversations in a language I couldn’t speak before September!   It has been a busy time, so if you’ve been coming back to the blog to check up on me, sorry to have taken so long to write!  I’ll try to update the page more regularly now that I’ve settled here.  There’s an awful lot more to tell!

2012 in review – Pretty happy with this

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.  Thanks very much to all of my site visitors!  A great result from Australia, USA and Great Britain.  I’m pretty happy about that!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Link to my thesis

In 2007, I invited flutists from around the world to participate in a major international survey on injury prevention and management for flute players.  Many people expressed an interest in the survey results, so I am pleased to announce that my thesis is available for free download from the Griffith University Research Collections.  Click on the following link to access my thesis “Understanding contributing factors and optimizing prevention and management of flute playing-related musculoskeletal disorders” or go to the Griffith University website, click on ‘staff’ or ‘student’, then ‘library’, then do a search on my name.

I’ve also published another article recently on “The Physical Challenges of the Flute Playing Position” in “InTouch”, the magazine of the Musculoskeletal Group of the Australian Physiotherapy Association.  Click on this link to download the article.

Thank you for your interest in my research.  I am working towards similar research projects here at UPSI in Malaysia where I now hold a senior lecturing position.

Greetings to all from Malaysia!

The Physical Challenges of Playing the Flute

Am delighted to share an article I co-authored for Issue 3, 2012 of InTouch the official magazine of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia, a National Group of the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

The Physical Challenges of Playing the Flute

Bibliographic citation for this article:

Lonsdale, K., & Laakso, L. (2012).  The physical challenges of playing the flute.  InTouch, 3, 20-22

Moving on

Freelancing has been exciting but also incredibly energy draining!  As I get older, I’m less inclined to live on the edge and wait by the phone (or nowadays, the computer!) for work.   Working casually or part-time for various organisations has meant that no week of my life has ever been the same for many years, but on the down side, there has also not been the opportunity for promotion.  One walks in and out of every job, and there is no commitment from any employer for further work.  (Not to mention no, or little superannuation, no holiday pay, or leave of any kind.)  It can be utterly relentless in terms of the necessity to work constantly, and generate work opportunities to keep one’s head above water.  It was fun while it lasted, but the time has come to move onwards and upwards!  Therefore, I’m delighted to officially announce that I will be starting a new, full-time job as Senior Lecturer, Faculty for Music and Performing Arts, Sultan Idris Education University (UPSI) in Malaysia next month.  This is a two-year contract, and to be honest, I’m not sure where life will take me from there!

I’ll be doing my last two concerts in Australia this coming Tuesday at the Salvation Army Temple in Brisbane, and on Saturday 25th at the Star Court Theatre in Lismore.  (See my diary for full details).

Very much looking forward to writing more posts from Malaysia.  For now, there’s still more packing to do!

Why music matters…a lot!

These are just some of the reasons why I believe music training and research are so important: 

Music heals:

Music assists in recovery:

Music improves quality of life

Music requires teamwork, discipline, focus, energy, diligence.  It provides the opportunity for self-expression, goal-setting and achievement, a sense of identity, and a reason for living.

Music makes thousands of people happy (all at once!)  Don’t we want people to be happy?

Music provides light when life is dark (read more here)

We need to keep training musicians, not cut funds to music programmes!  Music is powerful, and important to people all around the world.   The value of music in the community is not to be underestimated!

Being a flute player again

The past few weeks have been pretty busy and musically very gratifying!   After a few years of sitting endlessly at a computer in completion of my doctorate, I’ve now had a chance to get back to flute playing again.  There have been a series of truly wonderful opportunities in 2012 for which I feel incredibly grateful.  So, here are the highlights:

In January, I directed the Queensland Summer Flute Workshops at the Music Teachers’ Association of Queensland Auditorium in Taringa, Brisbane.  I was delighted to welcome flute teachers, and a group of fine young flute players from all over South-East Queensland to this event.   My colleague Anna Lu presented morning workshops on aural, theory and general knowledge, while I took classes on flute history, flute-specific general knowledge and performance.  Kathy Sander was our ever reliable and wonderful accompanist for the workshops. We received some really encouraging feedback from participants, and decided to run the workshops again during the Easter break.  These Autumn workshops were held at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, and we were thrilled that David Leviston from Flutes and Flutists came up from Sydney to display a collection of exquisite flutes, piccolos, low flutes and head joints by Haynes, Powell, Burkart, Altus, Di Zhao, Mancke, Azumi, and Resona.  The response to both events was fabulous, and we hope to run this or a similar event in the June/July holidays.  Kathy Sander and I performed two recitals, which consisted of selected pieces that our delegates were preparing for their 2012 AMEB exams.  Additionally, we performed some of Kerin Bailey‘s Five Dances for Flute and Piano, a jazz inspired piece that is a fabulous addition to the flute repertoire, and in the new flute syllabus.

In February, I had the great honour of being invited again to tutor the Brisbane Regional Youth Orchestra flute section at their annual orchestral camp at Bornhoffen.  The rain was so heavy that weekend, we wondered if we’d get flooded in, but fortunately all was okay in the end!  I was really impressed that members of the youth orchestra came to the carpark to meet me with an umbrella, then walked me into the venue.  It was incredibly thoughtful of those young musicians, and I want to take the opportunity here to thank them again for their kindness.  The BRYO flute section has improved out of sight over the years.  They sounded tremendous, and were a joy to work with.

A couple of years ago I adjudicated the Ipswich Junior Eisteddfod, where I met many lovely people, including the vocal adjudicator and wonderful operatic soprano, Peta Blyth.  I was thrilled when Peta invited me to play principal flute with the Mimosa Orchestra, conducted by Phoebe Briggs (Opera Australia) for the outdoor spectacular Opera in the Paddock.  Peta has been producing this event for many years, and audiences come from all around the country to hear some of Australia’s best operatic talent.  This was one of the most beautiful gigs I’ve done in my life because all of the company and orchestra were so pleasant to work with, and the repertoire was divine.  For example, we performed excerpts from the opera I love most, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which I have played principal flute for in two Opera Queensland seasons, both conducted by one of my favourite colleagues and another Puccini fan, Peter Robinson.

The Mimosa Orchestra wind section consisted of musicians I worked with years ago in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles, as well as a couple of New South Wales based players I hadn’t met before.   I’m so grateful to my 2nd flute and principal piccolo player, Wendy Champion, for being such a musically and otherwise supportive colleague. It was a complete joy to be a part of this fabulous event, and I really hope there’s another opportunity to play at Opera in the Paddock at some time in the future.

Here’s a photo from the Opera in the Paddock Facebook page:

While I was in Inverell for Opera in the Paddock, I received an email from the Queensland Pops Orchestra asking me to play principal flute for the Michael Bolton concert at Jupiters Casino on Saturday, April 14.  Bolton and his band were lovely to work with, and it was a great experience.  I was really impressed that Michael Bolton was at our entire 3-hour rehearsal (which hasn’t always happened in my experience of playing for celebrity performers!)  To top it all off, I got to play some more Puccini (Nessun Dorma)!  Wonderful memory!

Over the next few months, I will be performing the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Flutes in C major, Debussy’s Syrinx, and a beautiful concert in Lismore, New South Wales, with some fabulous opera singers.  More about that when I get another chance to post!


Hi everyone,

Just a reminder that discounted enrolments for the Queensland Flute Workshops close tomorrow, Monday 19th March.

Queensland Flute Workshops 

You are welcome to email enrolments through.

We hope to see you in April at the Queensland Flute Workshops.