The Directorate would like to welcome you to the first ICONgo Seminar hosted by Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.  ICON, or the Innovative Conservatoire, is an international collaboration to stimulate knowledge exchange, innovation and reflective practice in Conservatoires.  We are very pleased to have two highly accomplished musicians and pedagogues joining us for this event: Helena Gaunt from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Gerda van Zelm from the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. This seminar provides a unique opportunity to explore and share our practice, and reflect on our one-to-one learning and teaching experiences with colleagues from different institutions

Professor Scott Harrison                               Professor Gemma Carey

Director                                                           Deputy Director, Learning and Teaching

Innovative Conservatoire

The Innovative Conservatoire is an international collaboration chaired by the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, bringing teachers from music conservatoires together to share and explore practice, reflect, research and innovate.

The Innovative Conservatoire uses reflective practice and action research to address the challenges of development at the heart of conservatoire education, and to position creative and performing artists’ practice more centrally within the global knowledge economy.

First initiated in 2006, with support from the Polifonia Project of the European Association of Conservatoires (AEC) the project centres on tailor-made professional development for conservatoire teachers, focused on bi-annual residential seminars, designed to stimulate knowledge exchange and collaborative reflective practice. The project enables teachers from over 25 conservatoires worldwide to engage with core values, change and innovation in the heart of the process of teaching and learning, to articulate professional knowledge, and to become key players in the growing international community of practice-based inquiry.

A major feature for ICON seminars is their focus on collaborative processes of development in learning, teaching and research in conservatoires. Some of the most important dimensions that we have explored include:

  • enabling a shared journey in our interactions with students;
  • championing curiosity and an ongoing desire for discovery for us as teachers as well as for our students;
  • exploring the role of artistry in teaching and the development of professional identity through teaching;
  • bringing some of the core practices, principles and values of music-making, including improvisation, artistic sources and processes of making new work, into the heart of our approach to teaching, our pedagogy.


ICON Events

Residential seminars are held every May and October with 30 – 50 participants from across Europe and Australia. The seminars, each centred on a particular theme, are directed by Professor Helena Gaunt from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, UK and Bart van Rosmalen from the ArtEZ Conservatorium, Netherlands, along with an ‘inner team’ of around 10 colleagues from Europe and Australia. Smaller Spin-off ICON events (such as ICONgo, QCGU) are also held at institutions across the globe.

ICONgo QCGU Presenters


Professor Helena Gaunt (MBA) is Vice Principal and Director of Academic Affairs at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, providing strategic leadership in research, academic development, enterprise and internationalisation. She is a National Teaching Fellow (2009) and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Having been a professional oboist and member of the Britten Sinfonia, she has more recently developed research expertise, and current interests focus on ensemble practices in the performing and fine arts, and on creative entrepreneurship. Helena is the Chair of the Innovative Conservatoire (ICON) partnership, providing pioneering professional development internationally for conservatoire teachers.


Gerda Van Zelm has been a voice teacher at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague since 1992, where from she was also the Head of the Vocal department from 2004- 2013. In addition to teaching singing, she has also taught methodology, historical development and ensemble singing. Gerda is a Creative Director of the Innovative Conservatoire. In 2013 she conducted a research project on one-to-one teaching at the Royal Conservatoire, the result of which is published in June 2014 as a Royal Conservatoire publication.