Stuck for choice!

There are moments in time when you have all the energy in the world – well, you think you do – you’re ready to move, stretch and get on that exercise bike that’s sitting in the house gathering dust!

With my headphones on, I was ready to listen to my exercise playlist. This playlist of my own creation, was supposed to make me feel like I could do anything, float and move, stretch, and sweat it out on the bike.

Yet I couldn’t find the right music to play – nothing inspired me!

There are thousands of songs at our fingertips via the multiple streaming platforms. Was I just stuck for choice?

Trying to decide what music suits your mood can be a challenge!

Playlists and mixtapes

When streaming platforms came along I continued to do what I have always done – download new music and old favourites and create playlists. A bit like creating a mixtape – remember those?

I have playlists for all kinds of moods – there’s R&B/soul, jazz vocal and jazz instrumental, chill or ambient, a jazz and blues Christmas playlist, the exercise playlist and more.

You can share playlists now on streaming platforms. Although I am not sure that this has the same personal touch as creating a mixtape. For instance, if you had an artistic flare – you could create your own mixtape cover. The time and care it took to create a cover, affectionately record those tunes for your best friend’s Birthday or your mum and dad’s dinner party – that was me, with my DJ hat on!

My continually evolving exercise playlist!

Primal Music

It doesn’t matter if it’s Mozart, the Rolling Stones, Miles Davis or Taylor Swift. Your favourite music likely triggers a similar type of activity in your brain as other people’s favourites do in theirs. That’s one of the things Jonathan Burdette, M.D., has found in researching music’s effects on the brain.

“Music is primal. It affects all of us, but in very personal, unique ways”, said Burdette. “Your interaction with music is different than mine, but it’s still powerful”. For instance, there are some features in music that make you feel a certain way and involve different parts of the brain.

“In some cases, you might not even like a particular song, but you like the memories or feelings that you associate with it”, said Burdette (Science Daily, 2017).

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Primal’ as “characteristic of the earliest time in the existence of a person or a thing; and that “the appeal of music is primal”.

So when it came to my playlist, in order to tap into my internal rhythm or cadence, I figured that I needed to hear something particular – a pounding rhythm, a catchy melody – perhaps nostalgic and just downright primal!

Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances – Maya Angelou.

A perfect image by Lee Pigott – to convey those primal rhythms I was after!

The perfect playlist!

I swiped down to the end of the playlist just to check that I hadn’t exhausted all possibilities. There it was – Burning Down The House by Talking Heads, a song that originated from a jam. Originally inspired by the drummer Chris Frantz’s experience of being at a Parliament-Funkadelic live concert at Maddison Square Garden.

During the jam (with Talking Heads band members), he kept yelling ‘Burn down the house!’ which was a P-Funk audience chant, and David Byrne dug the line, changing it to the finished version, ‘Burning down the house’. (Wikipedia).

Talking Heads was one of my favourite 80s bands! Burning Down The House, followed by Swamp, also on the same Speaking Tongues (1983) studio album totally recaptured the nostalgic joy when I first heard Talking Heads.

Burning Down The House, Talking Heads – the perfect primal music to dance to!

Getting into some crazy dance moves!

I turned up the music, started to sway, float, sweat it out on my exercise bike and become one with the music. I let the music of Talking Heads take me away, totally satisfied that I had the perfect playlist.

What a show!

Well done Gungahlin College Theatre Company!

Earlier this year I was fortunate to be invited to run a vocal workshop for students from the Musical and Stage Performance class at Gungahlin College.

They were an impressive group!

The students and teachers were keen to participate in the vocal warm-ups and exercises, despite being out in the cold. Outdoors was the best place to be, considering the possibilities of the dreaded COVID lurking around the corners and indoor spaces!

I recall feeling excited for the students. They were embarking on this amazing journey and staging a Tony Award-winning show!

For those who don’t know, Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by Roald Dahl. The stage show was written by Dennis Kelly, and the original songs by Tim Minchin.

I had the privilege of attending the last Saturday performance of Matilda the musical at the Gungahlin College Theatre. I went along with a couple of friends, who thoroughly enjoyed the show.

The performance was beyond our expectations! The professionalism and talent of all those involved was apparent.

The major players embodied their characters, especially Jaz White, who played Matilda. She could have come directly from a performance at London’s Royal Shakespeare Company! I was impressed by Jaz’s natural singing ability and how she handled the complex songs with such ease! I especially loved those scenes in the library with Mrs Phelps, played by lovely Alisha Singh. Kudos to the stage design here – and those brightly painted book shelves!

Joshua Harvett, did an awesome job at portraying the fun, yet scary Principal Trunchball.

Rylee Bussencshutt played the perfect Miss Honey with such a gorgeous legit singing voice. I could imagine her playing Cinderella in “Into The Woods”.

As for Matilda’s horribly selfish family, the Wormwoods, the performances were true to character.

Mr Wormwood performed by Andrew Hird, was terrific. He evoked the slapstick comedians of time past such as; Laurel and Hardy, and The Three Stooges.

Imogen Starr-Lawrence, as Mrs Wormwood, took me back to an old-time favourite “Strictly Ballroom”, with her delightful dancing and fun sparkly costume and permed blond wig.

Last but not least, Makayla McIntyre, truly embodied the perfect teenage boy as Michael Wormwood, the favourite Wormwood child.

I would also like to give credit to the strong ensemble performance – there were a number of  talented singers and actors, who played minor characters.

I look forward to seeing some of these young performers from Gungahlin College Theatre in future Canberra or national and international shows!

Best of luck everyone for the future, it’s looking oh so bright!



Thank you City News!

What a lovely review from Josh Daffern, City News, of my band Bella Groove’s performance on the 17th July at Smith’s Alternative.

I was thrilled to hear that my new music was well received.

I had some wonderful musicians accompanying me, John Black (keys), Matt Lustri (guitar), Chris Pound (bass) and Somesh Putcha (drums).

We had a lot of fun performing some of my original tunes for the first time in front of an appreciative audience.

It is always a treat performing at Smith’s Alternative. It is one of the main “listening” venues in Canberra. The owners are very supportive of local musicians and live music. Also, Smith’s has one of the best sound engineers, Bevan Noble.

Thanks again for your support City News!

Read the City News Review

It’s been a tough year for many in Australia and throughout the world. I have felt wonder at all the kindness displayed and community connectedness, despite the difficulties we’ve all shared.

Music has been a constant in our lives and always will be. We’ve downloaded music, brought out old records that hark back to happy times in our lives. We’ve even started going to gigs and supporting the local arts.

Musicians and artists have been creative throughout the year, finding new ways to reach people (as well as trying to earn a dollar or two!!!).

Let’s continue to spread joy, goodwill, and compassion throughout this Festive Season and beyond.

Best wishes,

Bella Groove

Online places are available!

We are living in strange times with continued uncertainty about our health and well being. Music is a terrific tonic for these times.

I am excited to offer some online places from 20th July 2020!

You can choose to join me from anywhere in Australia, or the world, if our times work out!

I would love to see you online as a beginner flautist or beginner singer or somewhere in the middle. Perhaps you just feel a little rusty and would like to reignite your instrument or get those vocals chords working again!!

I am excited to see students of all levels!

So come join me online.

See further details on my tuition page.

I’m so thrilled to be asked to perform at this wonderful, jazz venue in Canberra, the Jazz Haus.

The Jazz Haus is a new venue in Canberra, established in 2018 by bassist/educator, Eric Ajaye.

As a musician, I feel responsible for promoting this amazing venue. The Jazz Haus is a room located within the Mawson Austrian club. Eric wanted Canberrans to have a New York “Blue Note” or “Birdland” club experience, where the musicians and audiences are treated to a room with engaged, appreciative, listening audiences.

I have a terrific line-up of musicians joining me at the Jazz Haus on April 3, including two top Sydney musicians, who will be driving down for the occasion.

Toby Hall

Toby Hall, one of the most highly regarded Australian drummers, (who has worked with the finest jazz musicians such as; Don Burrows, James Morrison, Sandy Evans, Paul Grabowsky and Vince Jones).

Tim Rollinson

Talented guitarist, composer, Tim Rollinson (founder member of Australian band D.I.G, Directions in Groove), who has also worked with a number of notable Australian musicians.

Miroslav Bukovsky

Miroslav Bukovsky, legendary  Australian Jazz musician, composer, Aria award winner, educator and leading jazz trumpeter.

John Black

Piano player extraordinaire, John Black worked full-time as a musician in Sydney before moving to Canberra in the mid 80s to lecture at the ANU School of Music. He played support at the Canberra Theatre for Dizzy Gillespie and his United Nations Orchestra. John also studied Cuban piano styles in Havana with Andres Alén. He is a highly sought after musician and educator in Canberra.

Eric Ajaye

Last but not least is Eric Ajaye, who’s resumé reads like a musical who’s who. He has played with notable and diverse musicians such as; Freddie Hubbard, Taj Mahal, Nancy Wilson, the Pointer Sisters, and Chaka Khan. He has also performed for television shows and commercials as a session musician.

Eric runs the Jazz Haus. He does all the promotion via all his social media channels and Canberra’s local community radio station, Art Sound. He donates $100 from each concert to his preferred charity.

Eric and his lovely wife, Karen, put so much love into setting up this venue. Karen sets up the tables with lit candles and the room is filled with jazz memorabilia. You really do get the feel of being in a New York Jazz club.

So this is indeed a treat for musician’s and audiences alike! I hope to see you at my concert on April 3rd, it will be an exciting one indeed!

City News Review!

Thank you Clinton White of City News for a great review!

It was a fantastic crowd at Smith’s Alternative last Thursday, the 23rd August! It is always wonderful to perform to a listening audience and to see such enthusiasm for live music!

Click here for review:

City News Review


Elise and Bella Groove at Smith’s Alternative

I was thrilled to receive a Music Award from the Canberra Critics’ Circle for my “…leadership as a vocalist, flautist and songwriter of the jazz band Bella Groove and for the…” entertaining launch of the new album City Lights at Ainslie Arts Centre”.

It was inspiring to witness other amazing local artists receive recognition such as the talented musician and composer Sally Greenaway.

Elise with music award
Elise receiving an award from the Canberra Critics Circle.



I’m really looking forward to playing at the Foundry 616 this Thursday 3rd August!

This will also be my first gig in Sydney since the late 90s! So it is a real thrill to be returning to the old stomping ground to play at a top jazz venue.

Most of all, I’m excited to be perform with a great line-up of musicians and play for family and Sydney friends!

So I hope to see a supportive crowd at Foundry 616!

Bella Groove plays The Foundry 616 in August 2017

The City Lights album launch in Canberra was filmed with the help of talented videographer, Matt Ong. We’re going to release the videos in the same order as the tracks on the album.

City Lights is the first, we hope you enjoy watching it on YouTube and give us a like and share 🙂

Song background

The song City Lights, title of the Bella Groove album, was conceived about 8 years ago!

I wrote the main chorus of City Lights after seeing Dan Sultan perform at the Sydney Opera House.

It was exciting seeing a live band at The Opera House Studio. The Studio theatre, “with its capacity to transform, is a space where the edges of art are not only reached but explored”. I have been fortunate to see a few “bizarre and beautiful” acts perform at the Studio.

So, I was buzzing… walking down the promenade at Circular Quay, heading back to my inner West abode. Suddenly the tune just came to me, beginning with the lyrics:

Come down now, come to the city tonight

There you’ll find brighter skies than you’ll ever see

A full moon out there, full moon out there

Come take a risk with me…

The rest of the lyrics came later. The melody was fixed!

Piano player and arranger, Hugh Barrett, played some cool chords and I figured out the intro! Hugh went away and worked on a horn arrangement, then we had a tune!

Thanks to Matt Ong and James Robinson who assisted Matt with filming the launch.