Transcript of Music pathways post school

This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the Music pathways post school podcast (34:21).

Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played, for they have performed age old ceremonies of storytelling, music, dance and renewal and along with all Aboriginal people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us also acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom.

Alex – Welcome to the Creative Cast podcast series. My name is Alex Manton and I'm a Creative Arts Curriculum Officer with the New South Wales Department of Education. The area of discussion today is Where to From Here, Music Pathways after the HSC. Today we will be investigating some tertiary music options for students to continue studying music after high school. My first guest today is musician and educator, Michael Rohanek. Michael is a BMus education graduate from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He works as a professional musician playing piano for artists Australia wide, including Tom McKenney and Nancy Hayes. He is currently the head of Music at Ultimo TAFE which is based in Sydney and supervisors for staff and 900 students across four qualifications. Welcome Michael.

Michael – Hi Alex. Hello, how are you going?

Alex – Good thanks.

Michael – Good, good to see.

Alex – Good to see you too. Can you tell us a little bit about music at TAFE Ultimo and I guess the type of learner your institution caters for like academic, hands on or industry focussed? Yeah, tell us about TAFE.

Michael – Okay, so the first thing you have to know about tough is that we are mandated to be industry focused. So, everything we do is the result of quite a lot of consultation with industry. All the courses that we teach have been created by educators and industry hand in hand. So, there's no such thing as a music teacher who delivers of course, that's been just developed by a music teacher. Everything has got a great slice of industry put into it. The second thing you have to know about TAFE is that all of our teachers have to be industry current. They can't just be teachers of music who have done it a long time ago, they have to show currency and ongoing currency. So, for me, you mentioned just a second ago that I play piano, that's part of my currency profile and I have to enter that into quite a substantial system that we have it approved. So, all staff have that kind of thing, whether it be they operate lights or they install PA systems or they teach piano or they playing gigs or working as a journalist, whatever it is they happen to do in the industry, that's part of their currency and they bring that currency to TAFE and teach with that currency. Courses that have industry in mind. So yeah, the first point is that our courses are all industry level. Being TAFE as well, we're not like academia. You mentioned I went to the conservatory and I got my fair share of academia and I was so happy with my four years of that. I didn't study anymore, but we have at TAFE very much a hands on approach and most of our students that study at in our VET courses are not the academic type. We have courses across certificate three, certificate four, diploma and advanced diploma levels and a lot of our students finish advanced diploma then go to further pathways to an institution like a university or an arts college.

Alex – How long would it take for a student to work through each of those diplomas? How long are the courses?

Michael – Okay, so a certificate three is six months, It's 3 days a week of face to face classes. Plus a similar amount of outside work for six months. You could do a certificate four after that as well if you like if you've done a cert three, you can you can get what's called articulation into a certificate four and get a few units off. So, you can finish a cert four in the remaining six months maybe. So that's a year's worth of that and then a diploma, depending on what you've done before, but generally speaking a diploma is a year long and then generally speaking an advanced diploma is also a year long. I'm trying to avoid all of the complexities that go with units and credit transfers that happen inside the VET sector being a little bit different to higher ed, where often you'll start one course, and because some units are common, they don't, they're not allowed to teach those units again, they are done and you can only do the units that are left. So that's kind of a complex part of that. But I'm just explaining to you how we do things that Ultimo.

Alex – Great. And what are the courses exactly on offer at TAFE where you work at the moment and what skills do incoming students need to have to access those courses?

Michael – Okay, let's start with certificate three, certificate three has four streams. So, four specialisations and each specialisation has a little bit in common with all the others. But the elective units are what makes it different. So, the specialisations in certificate three music business, music performance, sound production and what we call electronic music or D. A. W based digital audio workstation for the uninitiated, music in the box if you want to call it that. And so, each of those gives you a specialisation in that area. So, for instance, music business, you learn about venues and hiring and copyright law and how to manage a band and how to promote an artist, social media and stuff like that. The performance course is all about playing music and songwriting. So, it's obvious what you're going to do in that lots of rehearsal, lots of music theory, understanding lots of playing in groups, songwriting, presenting your pieces to other students and performances. The sound production course is all about operating equipment in the studio, microphones, mixers, compressors, EQ, recording, recording other artists and the electronic music course is all about creating music yourself using DAWs. So, it's all inside in the box. Now, those four streams that I talked about exist exactly the same at diploma level as well, except it's a higher standard and of course goes for longer and then once again, same thing Advanced Diploma have exactly the same course structures again, except at a higher level. Now, the odd thing is that all of those courses are all called either a Certificate three or diploma, Advanced Diploma in Music Industry and that's the full title, The Certificate Three Music Industry, Diploma of Music Industry, Advanced Diploma of Music Industry. And across that we have about 12 different offerings that go with that.

So, someone who is to start a certificate three. The certificate three is generally the same sort of learning standards year 12. And so, we would need someone to start cert three who had some understanding of their instrument, could play or do something to begin. They don't have to be particularly great, certainly not after AMEB standard type students, we’re after seeing a songwriter, types of people who can play, people who are interested enough to develop a career. A diploma level student kind of needs to be the person that's been out for a bit. Someone who's finished school, someone who has a year 12 standard of performance, who can play an instrument, someone who knows how to operate a small P. A. System or a small studio, and, particularly with music business, someone who has the reading and writing skills who's finished year 12. An advanced diploma once again is the same, it's a step past diploma. A lot of industry professionals, people who are out there working in industry and have been doing it for some time often approach me and ask can they please do an advanced diploma. And a lot of them do it just by submitting work and getting what's called R. P. L. Recognition of prior learning and they get their advance deployment just by submitting folders and folders of stuff that they've done. Examples of recordings and studio sessions and stuff like that.

Alex – That's so interesting that that's an option. That's great.

Michael – Oh yeah, quite a popular one.

Alex – Is there anything further that you'd like to add or any messages you'd like to give the teachers out there and how best to support their students?

Michael – Not everyone needs to go to the conservatory to study music. That's what I need to say. If you want to study music and become a musician working in the industry, coming to TAFE is a great option for those who haven't been brought up in doing Hanon exercises on the piano since they were five for instance. There is a great way for you to enter the industry with limited knowledge to learn from the ground up and learn also from the, the basic skills that you need to actually go get a gig, will be hired as a sound tech or get working in the industry to book a show. The people that actually work in the industry are well suited to coming and learning it at TAFE because of the grassroots education they'll get from that. When I was at the, I'm going to keep referring to the con as that's all I know, but when I was there, I wasn't taught a lot about how to get work. It was a very intense course about music and composition and teaching it and all of the stuff and I really enjoyed it. But our courses are all about how to participate in the workforce when you finish. And an interesting point is that we're starting to move into the degree space, so not just VET, so we'll be looking running next year, our very first degree called the Bachelor of Creative Practice, which is not a music degree, this degree is all about teaching you how to become the specialist creative practitioner. Take someone who can write songs, take someone who can produce music and give you all the professional skills you need to make yourself excellent and employable over a three year course.

Alex – It's a great initiative, Michael.

Michael – That begins next year, so here's to hoping that we get a great intake and get the ball rolling.

Alex – That's wonderful. Well, thank you so much for talking with us today and is there anything else you'd like to add?

Michael – I think a good thing to do would be if teachers want to know more about pathways I am more than happy to have the conversation with them at any stage. More than happy to discuss pathways, support plans for people that want to dump school halfway through year 11, stuff like that, which I'm not encouraging at all, the first thing I say to every student is I would really prefer it if you finish school, but every now and then I get someone who needs to leave and so we do take them. But as I said, the preference is to finish school.

Alex – Brilliant, thanks so much, Michael, That's fantastic information.

Michael – No worries at all Alex. My pleasure, my pleasure.

Alex – Our second guest today is Mr Matthew Hindson. Professor Matthew Hindson is the Deputy Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and in addition to this is a composer whose works are regularly played all over the world. He has worked at the University of Sydney since 2004 in a variety of roles and still teaches composition and music theory skills to first year and post graduate students. Matthew is often involved in advising students who want to study at the Sydney Conservatorium. Welcome Matthew.

Matthew – Hi Alex, great to be with you.

Alex – Can you tell us a little bit about music at the Sydney Conservatorium and the type of learner your institution caters for like hands on or academic or industry focused? What's the con all about?

Matthew – The Con is really about students who really love music. That's the easiest way to, to put it. I suppose though we’re really catering for students whose life is music, who when they are in their holidays, might learn a new piece or write a new song or write some music on the computer. And so, we're really focused on that more than anything else. But the great thing about the conservatorium is of course that we have a range of different discipline areas available. So, if you're a performer, I mean, when people think of the Sydney Con, one of the things I think of is classical music, right? Excellence in classical music, and also perhaps jazz since the 1970s has been very strong and yes, certainly that we continue to be super strong in that. And so we really are interested in students who are really great at that and really want to succeed in that area, but also we've got other areas as well. So, for example, we have contemporary music which has started up maybe five years ago now, students are doing incredible things in there Alex, I heard recently there, the EPs is written by the 3rd and 4th years, which is just mind blowingly good that these people are going to be stars without a doubt. We also have music education for example, and that's a really strong program. In fact, it's one of the few in Australia which you can do an undergraduate degree in music education. So, if you're interested in the process of learning and perhaps wanting to be a music teacher in the end we've got that possibility for you as well. So, they all are practical degrees, whether you're a musicologist wanting to write about music or performer or a composer or a songwriter or whatever you are, it's very much a practical based degree, but it is a university degree, it’s a degree from the University of Sydney and so there's also musicology parts to it too, and there's music theory and aural training. Different degrees have different requirements, so, for example, if you're a performer and you play the violin, part of what you have to do is learn to teach others to play the violin because we know that that's what a lot of people end up doing in the future, or even when they're still studying. So, look, it's a diverse program, but we're really focused on students who really love music and want to learn and be creative. That's what's one of the things that I think is one of the most amazing things about studying music at the conservatorium, you do get the chance to be creative whether you're a drum set player wanting to be creative in your drumming or whether you're one to write music for films or if you want to write music and work with other players, work with other performers writing new music on your computer, there's all sorts of possibilities available there. And I mean I love teaching there. I love studying music. When I left school, I had to choose between going into computer science and going into music. And I thought, you know, I really love music, in fact had a job already as a computer programmer, but I thought I'm going to go with what I love because that was the right decision. And I urge any students who are thinking what to do, go with what you love because then you can't go wrong, you really can't.

Alex – I love that. You've mentioned a little bit about the different disciplines that are available at the Conservatorium, what are the courses exactly on offer for the first year? So I'm assuming there's Bachelor of Music in each of those disciplines, is that correct? Matthew what's on offer there?

Matthew – Okay, so when students go from school or whatever, they're coming from into first year university, they will be enrolling in their degree disciplines. So, there's the Bachelor Music Performance, which is for students who want to study performance primarily. There's the Bachelor of Composition, which is for students who are interested in art music compositions. That is, for example, if you're interested in having your piece played at a Musica Viva concert in Sydney or something, you'll do that degree. There's the Bachelor of Music, which encompasses a number of degrees. So, for example, contemporary music composition for creative industries, which is like, if you want to be a film music compared to our digital music and media and musicology. So, there's that that's a sort of a catchall degree and what students will do, they'll enrol in that and then they'll choose their major, which has been determined through their audition. I'll talk about that a bit later if you like. And then there's also a Bachelor of Music Education, which is like the same sort of thing. It has many different areas of focus areas of study that students can be involved in. So for example, yeah, you could be a contemporary musician and wanted to do Bachelor Music Education, that's a possibility as well.

Alex – Fantastic. What skills do incoming students need to access these courses?

Matthew – Well, firstly, as I, as I said before, you need to be self-motivated and you need to love music. That's number one. Secondly, with all entry to music degrees at the conservatorium, you must do either an audition or submit a portfolio of your work and have an interview. Okay, so students will be aware that when you go to the university, you have to put in a UAC application saying what course you want to do and at the university that you want to do with that. But at the conservatorium we must also go through this other step of doing an audition or submit a portfolio and have an interview. Now that can be scary. A lot of students do find this scary and I think its a conservatorium I won't be good enough, but I don't know about that. You know, to be honest, I think that what the audition allows you to do is to show the staff at the conservatorium your potential. The audition and the interviews really are meant to show us as the staff, what potential you might have and students are coming from very different backgrounds. We know that for example, you might be a violinist, who's played the violin since you were four or you might be a msuic theatre performer who's really only got into music theatre in the last two years. That's okay because yes, there is a sort of a technical level or expectation that you're going to have to be at. But really, we're looking for what potential do you have to do well as a musician and finish the degree in a really wonderful way and really have a fantastic educational experience along the way. So, the process is, yeah, you've got to do your HSC and the minimum ATAR cut off for our degrees is 70. So, you have to get 70 or above, but also don't forget you have to do this audition or for the composition and musicology-based areas you also have to submit a portfolio and contemporary music as well, submit a portfolio of your work and then have an interview where we just discuss what you've done and what you're interested in doing.

Alex – Fantastic. Do you have to have done music two, to access your courses?

Matthew – No.

Alex – Okay, great, great.

Matthew – Look, most students have done music two or music one, but we also understand that it depends what you've had in your school. What I mean is, you can't help that. So there are some students who in fact haven't even studied music at school, you know, for those students who haven't studied it before, there'll be a bit of a learning curve when you get to university like any subject if you haven't done it before, but we've got students who have come in to all sorts of degrees from all sorts of areas and again, the main thing we're looking for is your potential as a musician.

Alex – Fantastic. And do you have any advice for our teachers for how they can best support their students in making a decision about a future career in music and post school pathways? I know you've touched on this briefly with, you know, if you love it, you should go for it. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Matthew – I think it's with every, every student and in fact every musician who works the conservatorium now they've had to have the conversation with their parents who say, oh you know, maybe you should be an accountant because it's a more stable job. Well, look, the fact of the matter is, is that music is a multibillion dollar industry in Australia, it's huge and the creative arts is a massive part of the Australian economy and there are a lot of people who do extremely well, there are lots of jobs in music or even music related areas. And the thing is that what you do at university does not define you as a person. Once you've finished your degree, either, we've got lots of examples of people who have gone on to completely different careers actually, but what they've been able to do from studying music is get that sense of creativity, as well as a sense of discipline which really works in terms of setting up people for success in whatever they go into afterwards, whether it's music or something else.

Alex – That's great advice. Fantastic, thanks so much, Matthew for chatting with us today.

Matthew – Thanks Alex.

Alex – Our final guest for today is Mr Julian Gough. Julian is a professional saxophonist, composer and educator who has been active in the music industry for 39 years. He's composed for television, international events and written commercially and released compositions for jazz and contemporary music. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree and certificate in Higher Education Practice and a Grad Diploma of Education with music majors. He has been working at AIM since 2006, initially working as principal of the Senior Secondary college and now works as the head of pathways and engagements. Welcome Julian. So, can you tell us a little bit about music at AIM and the type of learner your institution caters for, so for example, is an academic or hands on industry focused.

Julian – Well, firstly I should give a little bit of an overview of the types of courses that we have. We've got six undergraduate courses in music and we've got one course that we offer that's actually not in music. So, lets see if I get this right now in alphabetical order, there's a Bachelor of Music in Audio, there's a Bachelor of Music in Composition, Bachelor of Music in Classical, a Bachelor of Music in Contemporary, Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre and I've forgotten one which should have been at the beginning, which is a Bachelor of Music in Arts Management and the last of the undergraduate awards that we've got is a Bachelor of Entertainment Management. And then once you've done your undergraduate degree, you can go on and do a Master of Music. And there's two nested courses included in there as well, which is a Graduate Certificate in Music and a Graduate Diploma in Music. Or you could do a Master of Arts and Entertainment Management and there's two nested courses in that as well. So, in terms of what you do, it's kind of really a split, if you like, between skills-based learning, knowledge-based learning and of course the application of knowledge-based learning. So, when we're talking about skills units, we're talking about your typical performance units. So, everybody gets an individual lesson, everybody does concert practice, everybody does a masterclass, everybody does performance studies in their different specific fields. And sometimes we bring everybody together. So, in a master class we might bring in a there might be a great pianist who might come in and cover across multiple areas and the same with singer.

And then with the knowledge-based units, we've got all your typical theory units there, the units that I love to teach, and students hate to take, and then you've got the critical studies units which are kind of a combination of theory, which is also applied theories. So, students are actually up doing the stuff and history as well. And then there's some sort of sociology units as well. And then there are the application units and that's where you'll actually bring people together for collaborative learning opportunities. So that might be a composition student who's working with the music theatre cast to create a new musical. In fact, that's something we're just doing with a Noel Coward play for next year. Or it might be an audio student who is working with a composition student who is working with a performance student doing a little collaborative project. So that's kind of the application if you like. And then kind of the last piece of the puzzle if you like is the electives. We've got a really wide range group of electives there. I think there's something like 50 different electives that we rotate and offer. And that means that a student who is in one area, let's say that you're an audio student, but you're also interested in production and composing well, you can do electives in those areas and you can really build up some core competencies. Same if you're a performance student, you might want to learn about arts management and you might want to understand about finance or music and the law or uh, you know, social media marketing or whatever it might be. You can do those units as well.

And what else can I tell you, it's a three year degree and you can undertake it also as a six year part time degree as well and the masters students do two years to complete a masters from beginning to end and then it's divided up into those different pies, it's basically two different trimesters of study to do a grad cert, two do the grad dip, and then two to complete the masters at the end. There we go, that's the overview.

Alex – Fantastic. So what skills do incoming students need to have to access these courses at aim?

Julian – Okay, so the first thing that I should probably say are the audition skills that you need to come in with. So, you need to be competent at your instrument, but you don't need to be certainly in contemporary and in composition, you don't need to be masterful at your instrument. But what we do like to see is the ability to be able to play contrasting styles. So, students should be able to come in and play, you know, if they're playing guitar, they could do something which may be a dream theatre piece or something, you know, they might do a metal piece, but then they should do something which is really contrasting with that. I don't want to hear two metal pieces which are subtly different, like try and do something different and that's the same with composition. You're asked to provide either two compositions that you've done and one can be a score, it can even be a handwritten score or it could be a recording and you might do a performance. So, if you're a singer songwriter, you might do something that you've actually created yourself and perform it yourself. If you're a music theatre student, we ask for two contrasting works, both from the music theatre genre, so that's one which is contemporary and that's one from Oklahoma or something like that. And you may be also asked to do some dancing and some acting because it's all about the triple threat. So, there will be a bit more of an extensive audition there. With the management students, there is an ATAR, so for all these other degrees, there's no ATAR requirement, it's an HSC plus no less than a band three in English standard and then the audition takes the place of that. But for the management course, the Bachelor of Entertainment Management, there is currently an ATAR of 65.

And then at the end of that you have to also do a theory test, that's for all the music students. The theory test will not deny you entry, what the theory test will do for us will place you in the right class and get you ready for tertiary studies. So you might be required to do a course called theory pathways, which kind of is for those music one students who've done lots of performance, but they really haven't got their theoretical chops up, so that really is like an intense and of course that we have at the beginning and that way, when a student comes in, they're actually well placed to commence our music materials theory course, so what, that's what you need. There's another side to that though, which, because I was thinking about this before and I was thinking, okay, well you've got the kind of the skills that everybody needs, which are your base performance skills or your ATAR skills, but there's all the skills that are really absolutely vital for students to have and in order for them to be kind of ready when they come into tertiary studies. So, I'm talking really about those readiness skills, including having well developed cognitive strategy skills, so students who are able to problem solve, we like students when they arrive, who think independently who question the system, question the man, I mean, that's what musicians are supposed to do and having ownership of their learning, so including having good time management skills. Students who've got time management skills invariably do very well to begin with.

And it's a real problem with musicians because how can I put this, we're creative, musicians are creative and that can sometimes mean we kind of float and time management has not always been a great strength of budding musicians, so having those well-developed time management skills that they've learnt right throughout their high school and are developing now as they come towards the end is really important and then there's the skills that come off that as well, like having good note taking ability and having strategic reading and strategic studying habits and perhaps most importantly, being able to collaborate because our course now and our courses into the future are really going to be focused on collaborative practice and collaborative learning and students are succeeding the first year are = also good questioners and they know when and where to get information from, and they, as I said, they like to be able to ask questions and demand questions really of their lecturers and be good at self-advocacy and even in the industry, their personal skills. Yeah, it's employers want that employers are absolutely set now on creativity, critical thinking, collaborative skills, being able to manage themselves and think independently, they're the most important things and that crosses right into the music industry, like the music industry has profoundly changed over the last 15 years and now it's really based upon those skills as much as it is based upon your performance and your composition will be,

Alex – Do you have any advice for our teachers of how they can best support their students in making a decision about a future career in music and post school pathways?

Julian – Well, I would say all of those things that I said before, just as important as learning to play your instrument well. So providing courses that actually and programs that require students to think independently and require lots of collaborative practice, lots of reflective practice as well, like how did things go, like how and what do you do when planning the next part of your performance and then carrying out that and evaluating it, those things are really important. But as well as that, it's actually about thinking about the industry now as being a very changed landscape to what it has been in the past. I mean we've just produced a document which is on careers in the music industry and in that we've named 75 different career paths that students can take, and in that we've also included the skill sets that they will need in order to be able to succeed. And then we've also aligned that with our courses. So I think that would be something which would be useful for teachers to have for any of their music students or students interested in the creative arts is to have a bit of a read of that document and see where their students might fit in to a possible future career pathway and I can let you know how to get that which is right on our main page of the website and you can just download it straight away. So, so you know, that's what I would say, develop those key skills and also think about what the career options might be for their students. It has changed.

Alex – Excellent, fantastic Julian, thank you so much for speaking with us today. You provided so much fantastic information about your courses and what AIM offers.

Julian – Right Alex. It's a real pleasure.

Alex – Please note that the courses discussed in this podcast are suggestions only and implies no endorsement by the New South Wales Department of Education of any program cause or institution.

Jackie – This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team of Curriculum Secondary Learners, Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education.

Get involved in the conversation by joining our statewide staff room through the link in the show notes or email our Creative Arts Curriculum Advisor, Cathryn Horvat at The music for this podcast was composed by Alexandre McWhirter of Coonabarabran High School and the promotional tile designed by Kaitlyn Scott from Winmalee High School.


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