Here at Quantum Syndicate we provide a supportive and stimulating learning environment for music students.

Iain Brandram-Adams has been teaching for 16 years in a variety of music subjects, and is a lecturer in composition and orchestration at the University of Canterbury. If you are looking for an experienced mentor in any of the areas of study listed below, please feel free to contact me.

For the convenience of students, composition, theory and history lessons are available both in person and via video conferencing software such as Skype. Because of the highly practical, hands-on nature of instrumental performance, cello and piano lessons are typically only offered in person.

If you are considering music teachers, please feel free to contact us for references and more information. Take the quantum leap and accelerate your music studies today!

Music Composition

Composition is Iain's great passion. He teaches composition and orchestration at the University of Canterbury. His duties include giving lectures, running tutorial sessions for groups and individuals, marking assignments and grading creative portfolios. He also gives a special series of guest lectures on the techniques and creative processes involved in his work, including contrapuntal sculpting, approaches to polytonality and iterative formal design. Outside of university life he has tutored many secondary and tertiary students privately.

As a working composer, he is composer-in-residence for the University of Canterbury Classics Department's theatrical productions of classical Greek and Roman plays. He has collaborated with, and been commissioned by, a number of soloists and ensembles including Gao Ping, the Alauda Quartet, Yoomia, Ian Bolton and the Westbrooke Quartet. He is also a prolific soundtrack composer for multimedia, and some examples of his work can be found on our media page.

If you are looking for an engaging composition teacher, Iain is eager to:

  • — instill a profound sense of curiosity and wonder as you explore the fascinating world of music creation.
  • — assist you in orchestration, with a thorough grounding in instrumental characteristics, limitations and idioms.
  • — advise you in the art of combining instrumental timbres to achieve musically effective textures.
  • — show you how to maximise the strengths and isolate any potential weaknesses of your musical ideas.
  • — give you tips on shaping your material and refining development strategies to produce a cohesive, satisfying whole.
  • — help you fine-tune your creations as they near completion.

Music Theory

A strong grounding in theory will go a very long way in supporting any other musical pursuit, but let's face it, many people complain about how dull the subject is. Here at Quantum Syndicate we firmly believe that this does not have to be the case, as music theory is truly fascinating if presented in the right way.

Iain has the uncanny knack of being able to stimulate students' interest by relating otherwise "dry and dusty" concepts to everyday experiences and using storytelling to add colour, humour and memorability. To add to the fun, he simplifies difficult topics by breaking them down into much smaller, easy to understand components, which makes learning a truly immersive and enjoyable experience. Whether you need to sit a theory examination or would simply like to increase your level of musical understanding, Iain is here to help you get where you want to go.

Iain has won multiple awards for music theory, including three Hedy King Robinson Awards and the Alabaster Knowles Prize. His particular area of expertise is analysis. One claim to fame is that during his university degree he was awarded 12 out of a possible 10 for a particularly stunning assignment on the opening passage from the Third Symphony (aka Third Racket) of Johannes Brahms.

If you are looking for a theory teacher with pizzazz, with Iain you will cover such topics as:

  • — musical notation: clefs, pitches, rhythms, dynamics, other performance directions.
  • — harmony: diatonic, chromatic, modal, extended, jazz, polytonal, etc.
  • — counterpoint: species, similar/parallel/oblique/contrary motion, voice leading, imitation, dissonance, etc.
  • — idiom: circle of fifths, sequence, repetition and variation, etc.
  • — analysis: formalized/nonformalized/intermediary, immanent level (e.g. Schenkerian), perceptual, compositional, etc.
  • — serialism: dodecaphony (twelve-tone music), set theory, other organisational systems.
  • — microtones: exploring pitches beyond the black and white keys.

Music History and Ethnomusicology

Musical styles and practices have a very long and interesting history. In addition to learning an appreciation of music from days gone by, through exploring the past we can better understand the music of today and catch a glimpse of our place in this ever-evolving art form. Western art music, or "classical music" in its broadest sense, has its roots in Europe over 1000 years ago, while other cultural centres around the world have a similarly rich heritage. An understanding and appreciation of a wide range of historical and ethnic musics will serve you well as a creator, performer or listener of music. Of all the music out there, Iain has a particular fondness for polyphonic music of the Renaissance and Hindustani (North Indian) classical music.

If you are looking for a broadly-educated music history teacher, Iain is enthusiastic about taking you through:

  • — Medieval music, including plainchant, organum, ars antiqua and ars nova: e.g. Hildegard, de Machaut.
  • — Renaissance music, including motets, madrigals and masses: e.g. Josquin, Tallis, Monteverdi, Dowland.
  • — Baroque music, including fugues, concerti grossi and sonatas: e.g. J.S. Bach, Handel, Vivaldi.
  • — Classical (period) music, including symphonies and string quartets: e.g. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven.
  • — Romantic music, including large-scale piano and orchestral works: e.g. Chopin, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler.
  • — 20th/21st century art music, in its astonishing diversity: e.g. Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Varèse, Messiaen, Ligeti.
  • — Popular music, including its many genres and sub-genres.
  • — Traditional music from Africa, Middle East, India, Asia, America and the Pacific.

Cello and Piano

Iain is an experienced instrumentalist with a keen insight into the learning process. He has developed his own pedagogical method that simultaneously builds solid technical foundations, keen musicianship and unwavering confidence. As a recording artist he is greatly in demand for his vibrant interpretations and impeccable sound: his playing can be heard on many commercial releases including Hera's album rattle my bones, Altitude, Emily's Holiday Season, Murder, She Wrote and the WildStar MMO.

If you are looking for an expert cello or piano teacher, Iain will be delighted to help you:

  • — develop your technical ability to give you greater control and agility, and a wider range of beautiful tone colours.
  • — harness your skills effectively to facilitate smooth, sophisticated and captivating musical interpretations.
  • — build confidence in a calm, friendly, stress-free environment.
  • — practise the art and psychology of live performance, including relaxation and mental focus exercises.
  • — prepare thoroughly for any examinations you would like to sit.
  • — learn microphone techniques to capture your performances at their best.