Thinking of studying a Bachelor of Music in Creative Music Technology at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University? Student Tess King shares her experience as a student and her advice to students.
Walk us through what a day is like studying at Queensland Conservatorium.
It might not be what you would expect! Generally, I’ll spend a day with lectures and tutorials in the Creative Music Technology (CMT) labs or studios. I will work with different software DAWs (digital audio workstation) to do everything from sound design, compose, mix tracks, experiment with surround audio and record audio. During class time, it might sometimes look a little closer to the normal, with notebooks, pens and projected presentations, but often it will involve much more. Anything from sitting around speakers and analysing a hit song, soldering electronics or taking on a producer role with musicians in the studio. The day can last pretty long if you let your curiousity run wild. It’s very common to see us “mutechs” pottering away on computers into the late hours of the night.
What do you love most about Queensland Conservatorium and why did you come here to study?
I love that the Conservatorium is a buzzing hub of interesting and passionate people. It is a network of friendly people that can open doors and opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
The support structure within the Conservatorium is self-sustaining. Cohorts and program undertakers rally together to help each other with frustrations and tribulations. Within that, the lecturers often take a genuine interest in how you’re doing as a student and in your life outside of studies. Griffith as a whole provides a wealth of engagement and assistance opportunities in and outside of university time.
Tell us more about some of the classes you’ve taken. Have there been any classes or specific teachers who have inspired you throughout your time here?
It would be very difficult to point out a class that didn’t inspire me. All of my classes have brought a different perspective to sound. The lecturers that I have in CMT are some of the most experienced, caring, invested and open people I have ever met. Dr Matt Hitchcock, Douglas Roberts, Dr Thomas Green, Craig Parry and Dr John Ferguson are just a few of the incredible people who have taught me so much more beyond what the courses initially cover.
Have you had many opportunities to perform at the Con?
Being in CMT gives you completely different performance experiences. Many subjects within my degree provide opportunities to perform with a mixture of electronic and acoustic instruments, giving you a unique perspective on the idea of “performance” and “instrument”. My favourite performance would have to be when I performed alongside the Conservatorium Wind Orchestra with Nava MacDonald in a ‘bridging of worlds’, if you will, of music technology and orchestra. Rarely do CMT students get the opportunity to perform in the theatre hall as other music students do. More often than not, we are behind the curtain, monitoring recording levels in a quiet kind of chaos for the elective class Professional Recording Projects (5000QCM). Having that opportunity, too, alters your perspective on performance and music as a whole.
Tell us a bit about your background and what drew you to music and specifically Creative Music Technology (CMT)?
Growing up, I was surrounded by music, although not much of it had a focus on technology. I started in Grade Three with clarinet, violin and keyboard studies which eventually narrowed to focus on just piano. I was originally drawn to music for the challenge of learning but as I grew up I was continuously drawn to it because of the psychological and philosophical ties to sound. Things like the emotional responses to music and the creation thereof. I love learning about the psychoacoustics of sounds and better yet, seeing it in action. At the time that I applied for CMT, I had very little idea what it actually was and meant, but I got the impression that it would tie together many fields of sound. I had so many interests in varied fields that CMT seemed to be the perfect place to explore these interests.
I would absolutely recommend that people apply to study CMT. Even if they think that they don’t know a lot about technology in music. If you have curiosity and passion for learning about sound, then give it a shot. The knowledge, skills and community are all worth it.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
I am most proud of the instrument I made for the class Electronic Instruments (2710QCM). It opened up a whole new area of knotted topics and fields in music technology. The brief was to design, build and program a unique electronic instrument that you would then perform in a concert. I loved the merging of knowledge into one project. The project itself was quite entertaining to many as well. I called it a SQUBE (standing for squishy cube — because I am VERY creative with names) and it was simply that. A cube with squishy gelatin-covered faces that responded to the amount of pressure on different faces through sonic generation and manipulation. There were also some buttons and LEDs which aided in audience and performer feedback and understanding. It was a topic I knew nothing about going into the course and managed to come out with a functional instrument and a keen curiosity for electronic instrument design and creation.
What advice do you have for future students?
Always remember that you have never discovered everything there is to know and that is the exciting part. You will find you are capable of many extraordinary feats if you are open to learning, discourse and experimentation. Part of being open to those things can mean letting go of inhibitions and taking chances, which may seem daunting. Talk to people who uplift you as they will be the people who can inspire courage. I’ve talked to a lot of potential students on Open Day who only found others who have the same interests that they do through the Conservatorium. That interaction is often the first time they have found people who uplift and excite their curiosity in the many areas of music technology. There will always be those who do share your enthusiasm, it just might take some searching.