Michelle Birch, Bmus(Hons)

 

A New Zealander born in 1966, Michelle began her guitar studies at the age of 7 at a local Saturday morning music school. Passionate about the guitar from the first, she resented the prerequisite year of learning recorder, and when finally beginning her guitar lessons, having been told by an older student that her hands were too small, tried to stretch her fingers to make them longer!

Michelle began teaching at the age of 16 at Papakura Saturday Morning Music School. A crash course in music theory, of which Grade 5 was prerequisite standard at tertiary level, sowed the seeds for a passion for making theory more accessible and an accepted part of instrumental study from the beginning.

 

Some highlights of Michelle's performance career:

1983 - awarded Grade 8 Merit and Grade 5 theory by Royal School of Music, London

 

1985 - awarded the Certificate in Executant Music in Performance Guitar through Wellington Polytechnic, studying with Ronald Burt


1986 -1993 - partnership with Wellington guitarist Julie Bevan as guitar duo. Awarded a Merit pass in Grade 8 Duet by Trinity School of Music

 

2003 - travel to Hamburg, Germany specifically to select and purchase the Wichmann guitar she still plays

 

2005 - awarded a Bmus with 1st Class Honours through Massey University in Wellington under the tutelage of Gunter Herbig


2005 - participated in masterclasses with Ben Verdery, the Australian guitar quartet Guitar Trek, John Couch. Interview Ben Verdery about his friend Roland Dyens. Perform in Wellington Guitar Festival


2006 - Michelle and fellow postgraduate guitar student Jakub Rosnawski, who form the
Hard Case Guitar Duo, tour the North Island and are interviewed by Eva Radich for Upbeat on Concert FM.

 

2007 - take part by invitation in the David Farquhar tribute concert in April 2007, performing with Soprano Felicity Smith "The Roasted Swan" from Farquhar's Swan Songs


2009 - have dinner in Paris with Roland Dyens


2009 - participate in masterclasses with John Couch and Cheryl Grice-Watterson

 

2008-2010 - partnership with guitarist Paul McIver as guitar duo "The Owl and the Pussycat"


2010-2012 - the Hard Case Guitar Duo back in action

 

Work in the public domain:

“Jazz Mind and Classical Hands- Roland Dyens and his style of arranging and performing” - Wikipedia, and at http://www.rolanddyens.com/

 

Past teaching locations:

  • Papakura Saturday Morning Music School
  • Raroa Saturday Morning Music School
  • Mt Cook Community Music School
  • Scot's College, Wellington
  • St Mary's College, Wellington
  • St Catherine's College, Wellington
  • Strathallan College, Auckland
  • Half Moon Bay, (studio)
  • Old Fire Station, Devonport (studio)

 

Michelle maintains a busy teaching base in Auckland. She has had enroled as many as 100 students at once in the past but has a little less now


Current teaching locations:

  • Glendowie School, Auckland
  • Glendowie (private home)
  • Kings Prep School, Auckland
  • Kings College, Auckland
  • Sunnynook (private home)
  • Pt Chev (private home) 
  • Manly, Whangaparaoa (studio)