Music graduates discover a new tempo; TERTIARY STUDY

TUNING in to what industry and professionals need in music graduates has been an evolutionary process. It used to be that a degree in music was more tailored for those who wanted to perform but today’s bachelor of music graduates are being tutored in all aspects of the industry including production, marketing, teaching, and of course performing…Previously musicians tended to gravitate towards the city, where they could continue to learn and grow as performers and teachers. But a new program at the University of New England in Armidale is hoping to keep their talented graduates in regional centres.The UNE’s bachelor of music is also geared towards producing a new breed of musicteachers after refining its curriculum to meet the demands of the education system.“The degree is focused on training teachers for regional schools,” says Andrew Alter, UNE’s convenor of musicstudies. “There has been a lack of music teachers in regional areas because generally, if you take a specialist music degree say at the Sydney Conservatorium, those graduates usually want to move into a musical career associated with urban type things.“A hot-shot performer for example doesn’t really go to a regional area because the opportunities are not there and music teachers have in the past generally gravitated towards the city as well.”Alter says the UNE bachelor of music includes subjects such as performance, composition and musicology, as well as allowing students to specialise in their instrument, as other standard music degrees do. And there’s the chance to do a graduate diploma in education.Just as importantly, students are encouraged to participate in the rich musical community in Armidale.Australian National University’s three-year bachelor of music offers study of all orchestral instruments, as well as keyboard and voice, and now also has opened up more subjects in the area of world music, including folk and jazz.About three years ago the university also decided to create a combined degree linking music students to other faculties including law, commerce and even Asian studies.“Students can now link their music with a more academic or industry related course,” says ANU head of music John Luxton.“Even with the straight music degree they can move into a variety of things like recording engineering, program writing, producing for the ABC, instrumental teaching or complete a diploma of education and do classroom teaching.The Australian Institute of Music in Sydney has seen a number of highly successful performers and musicians come through its doors. The private college has undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, with a strong emphasis on practical experience.The institute’s bachelor of music course is designed to prepare graduates for a career in the music industry or to continue studies.“Students study contemporary performance, classical performance, music theatre, arts management and composition and music production,” says AIM recruiting officer Louise Wilson.“There is also music producing, arranging, composing and work with digital music software programs.”The college is also offering a master of arts management in conjunction with the Sydney Opera House.Students apply directly to AIM and Wilson says performance based subjects require an audition.After working as a music teacher and studying for a degree in music, Sarah Christopher knew most graduates were just not hitting the right note when it came to teaching.As a member of the Music Teachers’ Association in Armidale and a student in bachelor of music at the University of New England, she had first-hand experience about what was needed to be able to teach more effectively.“Graduates were lacking skills for classroom teaching when they finished,” says Christopher, who graduated last year. With her own experience as a private tutor, Christopher offered to help restructure the degree, which is now geared to producemusic teachers for high schools around Australia.