‘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 Darwin-born Jazz musician James Ryan shares how a decades-long experience and commitment to inclusive music education has helped to bring Amadeus to students on the autism spectrum at Sydney Catholic schools.

Saxophonist and flautist James Ryan tutors students in Aspect satellite classes at Sydney Catholic Schools in Sydney’s south and inner west.

Amadeus Music Education Program tutor and musician James Ryan works with ASPECT students at St Christopher's Catholic Primary School Holsworthy.The role is a continuation of his career supporting students on the autism spectrum to learn an instrument which began in London in the 1990s.

“It’s really important that all children are given the same rights, consideration and opportunities,” Mr Ryan said.

“I never assume what children can and cannot do, and that should be the same with every student.”

Mr Ryan Teaches all wind instruments the saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, tuba, and baritone horn.

At St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School Holsworthy a group of eight students are learning the clarinet under James’ tutelage, while at St Michael’s Belfield and St Columba’s Leichhardt they learn brass instruments.

“I do believe that the Amadeus program is for everyone,” – James Ryan

“We’re seeing some children just blossom,” Mr Ryan said. “It’s an opportunity not every child has so it’s very special.

“The support from the Aspect staff has been amazing and also from the management of Amadeus who have gone the extra step and developed this within the Aspect program.”

Jazz calling

Mr Ryan is prolific within the Australian Jazz landscape.

He is part of the 15-piece Sonic Mayhem Orchestra, the James Ryan Band, and The Subterraneans, whose self-titled debut album won the 2011 Australian Jazz Bell Award for Best Blend Album.

Between the three ensembles he has released 12 albums and toured Australia, India and Europe. He is also the co-director of Sydney-based ethical Jazz label Rippa Recordings.

Mr Ryan said his enthusiasm for music was as valuable as his knowledge when inspiring the next generation of musicians through his role as an Amadeus tutor.

“I love playing music, and that enthusiasm I have for music I put straight into my teaching and sharing of it,” he said.

“I don’t feel like I’m just going into another day job. It’s a continuation of the passion of what I do.”