Progress Report: SongMakers alums follow a productive path

Tuesday, 12 Sep 2017

JMC Academy's 2018 Scholarship entries now open!

There is no textbook way to break into the competitive music industry. But since 2013, APRA AMCOS’ SongMakers program has been going into Australian high schools to introduce aspiring songwriters, producers and performers to ‘songmaking’ as a career pathway. The two-day workshops, which are supported by the Australian Government, bring professional producers and songwriters into schools for an immersive studio session covering songwriting, collaboration, and production. The students not only create new material, but they make industry connections, and, maybe for the first time, see that honing their musical talent doesn’t end with year 12, but can be further pursued in a myriad ways. Skills from SongMakers are transferable to a fast-paced 21st century working world, where applying digital technologies, critical thinking, and negotiating techniques are crucial.

Songwriter, producer and SongMakers mentor JP Fung reflects, “If I could go back and be in the shoes of these SongMakers kids, man... I think my career would have been so much easier. To open career paths: it took me ten years to find that out.”

Tia Gostelow was a student in Mackay in 2015, when Katie Noonan and Grant Windsor came to her school for a “very inspiring” SongMakers session. Not long after, she was named the first winner of triple j Unearthed High’s indigenous initiative With that honour, came another SongMakers session at her school, this time with Robert Conley and Thelma Plum, which Tia says, “was a thrill because I’ve been a huge fan of Thelma forever. It was so cool to see how she wrote.” From there? Co-writing with members of Little May, performing at BIGSOUND and joining the roster of Collective Artists booking agency, touring with Husky and Busby Marou, and independently recording her debut album for a 2018 release. “I think every time I do something different with songwriting and work with other people it helps me get better at it. I’ve always found it fascinating to see how different people write.“

Last year, JMC Academy generously funded new songwriting scholarships for aspiring musicians from the SongMakers program. Two were awarded: to Issac Liew of Perth who’s now studying at JMC in Melbourne and Marnie Purssell of the Sunshine Coast for a place on the Brisbane campus. Each student is loving being immersed in music and hopes to extend to the full three-year degree program. And in very exciting news, JMC is once again offering places to SongMakers alums. There are three available for study next year: one each at Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne with entries now open to students who participated in the program any time since its inception. 

Marnie encourages her fellow SongMakers to believe in themselves and apply for the scholarship: “I feel I’m starting to steer in the direction I want to be as an artist. For example, when I approach a song now I think about it more constructively and what elements could be more effective. My advice for someone thinking about going for the JMC SongMakers scholarship is: definitely go for it. Choose your best material, record it in the best quality way you can. I had a lot of doubts myself when entering it last year but you’ve just got to go for it. I’m getting so much out of it.”

SongMakers alums! Apply now for the JMC Academy 2018 scholarships. Entries close 15 December 2017. 

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