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Breaking into the music industry

Breaking into the music industry with Abmusic

14 Dec 2016
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Breaking into the music industry is never easy but Abmusic is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians in Western Australia to do just that.

After forming in 1986 the Corporation has grown into a Registered Training Organisation delivering Certificates II, III and IV through to a Diploma of Music. They also offer a Production Course. These courses are drawn from the Music Industry Training Package in a program especially tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

CEO Dennis Bird, originally began as a drum teacher at Abmusic 27 years ago, believes the success of Abmusic is due to the culturally appropriate delivery of its services.

“I think it’s been successful because the way we train and the way we’ve taught over the years has gone along totally with the Aboriginal community,” Dennis said.

“It’s about how respectful we’ve been towards the community. We don’t just teach music, we teach music to Aboriginal people.”

By tailoring the music courses and training for Aboriginal people, Abmusic has not only engaged numerous students, it has produced graduates that are job ready.

“We’ve had students who have had maybe a bad experience at school, and they come to Abmusic and it reengages them back into learning,” Dennis said.

“And they’ve gone on to become teachers, and they’ve gone on to do other studies and it’s because of coming through Abmusic that they’ve gone onto that.”

Abmusic's Marketing and Events Coordinator Candice Lloyd, who started as a student at the college 16 years ago, said that government support through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) funding stream is allowing Abmusic to engage even more people in the community.

“The IAS funding has really helped us to motivate our students more, get us connected to the community and help us inspire youth,” Candice said.

“Already we have students starting to work in radio and work with different event companies. Being here for the last 14 years, I can really see our students getting out there into the industry now.”

Another Abmusic employee, Daniel Riches, who comes from the remote Indigenous community of Ardyaloon, said he strongly believes that Abmusic is more than just a music school.

“The community around here is benefitting because we’re producing these confident young and older Aboriginal people that want to go and do more,” Daniel said.

“A lot of people get employment from this because they’ve got the confidence to go out and say ‘I can apply for that job, I can do it’.”

Voiceover intro
Children who go to school have better life outcomes. It sounds like a simple formula, but getting kids engaged in education can be anything but simple. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with an interest in music, learning is exciting and meaningful, and having a career in the industry is well within reach thanks to Perth-based music school Abmusic.

Abmusic has operated within Clontarf College since 1986. It began so that Aboriginal students – particularly musicians – could have the same training opportunities as the rest of the community. It’s now funded under the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy to improve educational and employment outcomes for Indigenous people. Abmusic provides accredited training up to Diploma level. Dennis Bird started at Abmusic 27 years ago teaching the drums, and is now the CEO.

Dennis Bird - CEO
I think it’s been successful because the way we train here and the way we’ve taught over the years has really, really gone along totally with the community, the Aboriginal community. How respectful we’ve been towards all that side of the community. We don’t just teach music, we teach music to Aboriginal people.

Candice Lloyd - Marketing & Events (and past student)
My name is Candice Lloyd. I started here at 17 years old at Abmusic College. So I was first a student. Then I went on to train to teach and I was teaching and doing work experience within admin. Now I’m the Marketing and Events Coordinator here at the College.

We cover a broad spectrum of the music industry. So we do Occupational Health and Safety, we do technical production where students get to mix live sound, mix and master sound in the recording studio, they get to record and compose their own songs in the mini lab, they also get to learn how to read and write music and how to deal with music business. We do computers, percussion workshopping, where they work with Dennis a lot. So we’re very interactive here and its very fun and people, generally when they come here, they sign up and they never want to leave, like me!

Dennis Bird
We’ve had a student, or students, that’ve came to Abmusic and they’ve had maybe a bad experience at school, and they come to Abmusic and it re-engages them back into learning. They’ve gone on to become teachers, or they’ve gone on to do other studies and it’s because of coming through Abmusic that they’ve gone onto that.

Daniel Ritches - Administration
My name is Daniel Ritches. I come from a place called One Arm Point, or Arralun as it’s called by the locals. It’s about two and half hours outside of Broome. Abmusic is a place where you just come to grow confidence in yourself. So with the community around here, it’s benefitting it because we’re producing these confident young and older Aboriginal people that want to go and do more. A lot of people get employment from this because they’ve got the confidence to go out and go “I can apply for that job, I can actually do it”.

Dennis Bird
The IAS funding has been very helpful because it’s worked out in three different areas. Now because of the IAS funding we run an events class, and that is every student here at the college is in that class. Then they put on their own concerts and shows, run by themselves, which then gives them that opportunity to understand how that side of the business works. Without the IAS funding this wouldn’t have happened. It also helps with the production course. Now the production course means that students who come here for music, can then continue on into the production course and have more employment opportunities. The third area that the IAS funding helps here at Abmusic is that I take each class at least once a week.

Candice Lloyd
The IAS funding has really helped us to motivate our students more, get us connected to the community, help us inspire youth, and it’s really bringing us and the community together. There’s been a lot more activity and interaction since we began with the IAS funding. Already we have students starting to go out and work in radio, work with different event companies. And it’s all really starting to happen. I can just see, being here for the last 14 years, I can just see our students really getting out there into the industry now.

Find out more

The Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy is designed to provide better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For further information, including about the courses on offer, see the Abmusic website.

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