‘Meet the Maestros’ is a series of articles that celebrates the diverse professional talent and musical expertise of Sydney Catholic Schools’ Amadeus Music Education Program tutors.

Here the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s principal violist, Monique O’Dea, shares her journey to the Amadeus classroom.

While growing up in Adelaide, Monique O’Dea was scouted at a piano concert by a violin teacher who thought she’d do well with the instrument.

“I’ll never forget my first violin lesson,” she said.

“I walked into my lesson with Mum we had matching dresses on  and it was so exciting. I never looked back. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I decided to change to viola.”

Mrs O’Dea studied violin in Vienna where she met her husband, Michael O’Dea, who is also an Amadeus tutor. Her 34-year career has included full-time touring with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Peterborough String Orchestra and several teaching roles.

Mrs O’Dea currently fulfils her love of baroque music by playing each season with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, which she joined as principal violist at its inception in 1990.

Amadeus Music Education Program at Sydney Catholic SchoolsIt’s a marvellous orchestra, I love it,” she said.

“We’ll have a rehearsal period of three days and then we’ll do our concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, and sometimes Brisbane. 

“You come back from concerts and get to tell a few stories to your students about what you’ve been doing. It keeps everything fresh.”

The six to eight weeks between seasons has allowed her to teach violin, viola and cello to Amadeus students at schools including St Vincent’s College Ashfield, Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School Carnes Hill and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Enfield.

Mrs O’Dea said she appreciated the diverse population involved in the program and the ability to meet with other tutors.

“It’s an interesting program, very ambitious,” Mrs O’Dea said. “It has a lot of great things about it and I think it will keep evolving.

“It’s nice to teach, to communicate with young people and pass on your skills.”