THE next generation of Tasmanian songwriters were given valuable tips by some of Australia’s top producers, including Thirsty Merc lead-singer Rai Thistlethwayte, as part of national music organisation APRA AMCOS’ school mentoring scheme SongMakers.
As an innovative new partnership between Tasmania’s Department of Education, SongMakers brings students from colleges around Tasmania together for host mentored song writing and recording workshops.
The program launched at the first of five ‘hub’ schools in Claremont College on 6 March.
APRA AMCOS SongMakers program director Tina Broad said the initiative aimed to develop closer links between schools and the Australian music industry, as well as to help build students’ overall career-ready skills.
“SongMakers is about fast-tracking the students’ understanding of the diversity of careers in the music industry, and in particular it’s about turning them onto the idea that while sustainable careers in the music industry are hard to forge, there’s great advantages if you become a creator,” she said.
“We bring in these industry professionals who give them all sorts of insider knowledge about the way the industry works and the kind of skills they need to be successful in it – plus it’s right here in the classroom.”
This year, record producer Robert Conley, ARIA Award-winning songwriter Katie Wighton and Rai Thistlethwayte were in attendance and acted as mentors for the students.
“They’re very generous and they get how scary it is, so they’re just wonderful ambassadors for us,” Ms Broad said.
Thirsty Merc lead-singer Rai Thistlethwayte has been involved with APRA AMCOS since he was 18-years-old and has relished the opportunity to impart his knowledge onto college students.
“My dad’s a school teacher and my mum taught in schools, so there’s something in my family that’s given me a natural interest in the education side,” he said.
Mr Thistlethwayte said the two-day workshop involved students writing their own songs on the first day and then producing fully fledged demos on the second day.
“The real idea behind the workshop is to demystify the song writing process for a musician and to also place the right amount of importance on coming up with your own content,” he said.
Mr Thistlethwayte said he wanted to demonstrate to students that it is not all about playing an instrument and being in a band.
“It’s aiming to recollobrate the focus to the content creation because for most artists who have sustainable careers they really do have to be creating their own material, and it also gives people an outlet to express themselves,” he said.
“The other thing is to give some positive encouragement to a lot of kids who are playing music, but don’t really know what their next step is – they might be under the impression that there isn’t a way to turn it into a lifelong thing.
“Although it comes with a lot of challenges, music is one of those things that everyone I speak to about it really gets so much out of it on a personal development level.”
17-year-old Kuashal Atwal said he gained various skills from the workshop and the advice from the mentors.
“I learnt how to work well together in a team because my whole group was from different colleges and they played different genres, but it was cool to get ideas off each other,” he said.
“Recording was amazing and it was great to get in the studio and get the experience.
“I was nervous and scared when I met Rai, but after a while he made us feel really comfortable.”
Caption: From left, Thirsty Merc lead-singer Rai Thistlethwayte with college students Cadi Pritchard, Kaushal Atwal and Ella Pears. Photo credit: APRA AMCOS.