Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Musicology (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates

Second Committee Member

Frank E. Cooper

Third Committee Member

Dale W. Underwood


This thesis explores the specific constellations of shared habits, thoughts, and educational practices that connect the saxophone community in Melbourne, Australia. Thomas Turino’s explanation of the formation of cultural cohorts, combined with Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities and Bruno Nettl’s research on educational institutions from Heartland Excursions provide relevant theoretical background for this paper. The Melbourne saxophone community consists of music educators, students, composers, and performers who have lived in Melbourne for a significant portion of their musical studies. The three main educational institutions that impact the Melbourne saxophone community are the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB), the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM). Specific social actors also play a significant role in influencing this community. In particular, the composer, educator, performer, and entrepreneur Barry Cockcroft (b. 1972) has molded the thoughts, values, and knowledge of these saxophonists. Cockcroft’s involvement in all three aforementioned educational institutions has not only shaped his conceptions of how the saxophone should be played, but it has also influenced the way he teaches the instrument. The need for more contemporary Australian music on the AMEB and VCE syllabi allowed for Cockcroft’s publishing company, Reed Music, to fill a niche and flourish. This complex interplay of music institutions and social actors provides a strong and effective network for young saxophonists. This thesis explores the interconnections between these educational organizations, Reed Music, and Cockcroft, as well as other prominent social actors. Cockcroft’s performances, recordings, compositions, publishing company, commissions, teaching, and his roles within the AMEB, VCE, and MCM have influenced the repertoire, technical abilities, and knowledge of the Melbourne concert saxophone community. At the same time, his teachers and colleagues, as well as these institutions, have shaped Cockcroft’s playing, composing, and teaching, as well as his beliefs, values, habits, and mindset. The interactions between these organizations and social actors have produced several significant outcomes. Melbourne saxophonists now feel more comfortable performing contemporary Australian music and extended techniques. Due to Cockcroft’s promotional activities—coupled with the work of Reed Music, and the syllabi of educational organizations—over 1,000 pieces have been composed, many of which have become popular, and an Australian style of saxophone music is developing. Furthermore, Cockcroft’s goal for musicians to perform and compose music that audiences can relate to is now shared by many Melbourne saxophone students and teachers. Although this unique saxophone culture will change over time, the repertoire, knowledge, and values instilled within these countless saxophonists will shape the future of the Melbourne concert saxophone community.


saxophone; Barry Cockcroft; cultural production; community; Melbourne, Australia; Victorian Certificate of Education; University of Melbourne; Australian Music Examinations Board