In Conversation: Rohan Disley

In Conversation: Rohan Disley

Creating your own opportunities, keeping a practice journal and childhood inspirations.

Rohan Disley
Perth, Australia

In Conversation: Rohan Disley

Creating your own opportunities, keeping a practice journal and childhood inspirations.

You are currently a guitar student at the University of Western Australia, which boasts one of Australia’s most active guitar programs. Where are you up to in your studies and how did you get involved in the ensemble? 

I'm in my fourth year of music studies and I'm just about to complete my honours. As soon as I entered UWA, I've been part of the ensemble as chamber music has been my largest passion since starting my formal studies.

The UWA guitar ensemble’s tour to Melbourne will see you perform a variety of works, from Baroque to contemporary. Can you tell me about the importance of performing a broad array of music and how this particular program reflects the scope of works the group is interested in?

I think guitarists today have the greatest opportunity to perform whatever they want. We now have a huge range of repertoire to perform; from baroque transcriptions to classical and Romantic works, compositions from the Spanish sound world as well as modernist and postmodernist pieces. I think if we didn't perform a wide variety of music, we would be letting down historical performers and composers who utilised this music to elevate the guitar to a notable status in the classical sphere.

Why the guitar? What initially interested you in the instrument, and what inspired you to make it your career?

I initially was a big fan of the Wiggles as a kid and my middle name is Murray, so ever since I was a little tacker I wanted to play tguitar. I come from the Margret River Wine region, so there weren't many opportunities to study classical music in a rural tourist town, so I played contemporary guitar for ages. I met my first classical guitar teacher in a recording studio when I wrote a song for the Australian Children's Music Foundation at 13 years old. I decided to learn classical initially to push my technical ability and ended up stuck with it! I've always wanted to be a musician for my career as I just never could imagine myself in an office job or doing a trade; music is the thing that manages to capture my full attention, so it was only natural that I turned to that for my career.

We’re coming up to exam time now - how do you keep a good balance between working on all the different music you have to prepare and perform?

Practice journals are your best friend! I recommend everybody gets into the habit of keeping a practice journal as you can mark your progress a lot easier and see how you are dividing your time so much more clearly. Also, create your own performance opportunities and make sure you're always performing different repertoire. Performance is the greatest motivation to make sure your pieces are 100% ready!

For young guitar students hoping to pursue their craft at a Conservatorium next year, what advice do you have for making the most of your study time?

Have fun and participate in everything. Make your own opportunities. There are people desperate to make music they're career and they haven't been given the opportunity, so work hard to keep that opportunity present because it may not last forever. Also, make as many friends as you can for your general happiness and play for as many people as you can. You never know who might be able to provide a favour for you down the track.

The UWA Guitar Ensemble performs Six Fish & Nine Guitars at St Mary's Church, North Melbourne at 7pm on Saturday 28th October. Tickets and more information here.