December 4th 2005
High school option for musos a hit
Last week a group of a dozen or more students from various Townsville high schools celebrated a very creative year's work at Jupiter's Lobby Bar with the release of two CDs - one, "Banana eat Monkey", which contained entirely original songs and production and the other, "Contemporary Voices", a compilation of, mostly, cover songs including, Candice Alley's, "Falling" by Magnetic Island teenager Lani Picot.
The night was the culmination of a educational initiative which began two years ago and brings local businesses, the arts and schools together in a way that is changing our definition of school and workplace training dramatically.
Ian Smythe, Principal of Town High, initiator and Program Manager of what is known as Arts in the Cities told Magnetic Times, "The program is part of the Education Training Reforms which take in existing businesses and arts endeavours in the city so young people can work with businesses to get certificate (level) training."
This could be a snap shot of the future Australian music industry
The 15 - 17 year old age group have been targeted as they have the highest drop-out rate from school. Ian Smythe said, "There are 10,000 who have dropped out across Queensland and we are trying to re-engage them using arts, theatre, music and multi arts.
But this program isn't just for kids likely to drop out. Lani Picot, attends town high and, as part of the course for this year been working with Town High's vocal teacher, Tracy Osmond as well being involved with the recording studio, Tunesville, run by former guitarist for hot Australian 1980s band, The Divinyls, Bjarne Ohlin.
Bjarne actually set up his recording studio within the Heatley Secondary College, one of the trial schools for the program, two years ago.
Bjarne Ohlin addresses the audience
at Arts in the Cities 2005
Bjarne is clearly excited with the results so far. "The students have made a tangible connection into the creative arts industry" and mentions Kia Farrell who, "Will be designing the sound studios of tomorrow". Kia is the first student to achieve a recognised, Music Industry, First grade, Vocational Education and Training Certificate II, qualification.
The program which Bjarne runs could be a nursery for the rock stars of the future but more realistically is an industry-based opportunity for young people to learn across the whole spectrum of skills required these days to work in the multi-million dollar contemporary music industry.
Those qualities and breadth of local student musical talent were, on the night, clearly a hit. Singer songwriter Caitlin Marychurch connected immediately with her audience with her "Over it". A song that noticeably moved the young singer, as it did the audience, with powerful, well shaped vocals and an emotional depth beyond her years.
Other original performers to watch are Matthew Ingham and Merran Reid who has the performance skill to quickly move up the musical food chain.
Ian Smythe says, "We eventually aim to an Arts Institute in the city as a partnership between the schools, business and the arts industry. We want to take their (students) passion and give it recognised certification."
For more photos of the evening (click here)