Members of Alice Blu Toby Tunis-Plant, Jo Loewenthal and Shaun Johnston (far right) with teacher Matt Hill (second from right) at the Northern Rivers Conservatorium recording studio.
Members of Alice Blu Toby Tunis-Plant, Jo Loewenthal and Shaun Johnston (far right) with teacher Matt Hill (second from right) at the Northern Rivers Conservatorium recording studio.

Change of tune at Con

The Contemporary Music courses at the Northern Rivers Conservatorium have had an overhaul to help local musicians develop their skills and make their mark in the competitive music industry. The head of community studies, Matt Hill, who has re-written the curriculum for both the Certificate IV and Diploma courses, said there was more of a focus on getting students to write, perform and record their own material, as opposed to having their repertoire set by staff.

“At the end of the year-long course students will produce an EP of their original compositions, perform their tracks at a major end-of-year gig and produce a media package with an online focus to market their work,” he said. “Students will have individual lessons on their chosen instrument throughout the year as well as ongoing theory, aural, songwriting, music business and technology classes to help build skills. The new course reflects the collaborative songwriting methods of many contemporary bands and the Con expects to see some success stories emerge.”

One of the current success stories is indie rock band Alice Blu, who formed five years ago at Shearwater Steiner School in Mullumbimby. All three members enrolled in the Certificate IV course last year and are coming back to do the Diploma this year. In the past 12 months they have supported The Beautiful Girls and Daryl Braithwaite (?!), have also played at the Mullum Music Festival and are negotiating to get on the bill of Splendour in the Grass this year.

All three members said the course had helped them improve musically and also given them skills and confidence in marketing their music.

“The business classes helped us a lot with negotiating gigs and money and knowing how to promote ourselves,” guitarist and vocalist Jo Loewenthal said.

The Con is still accepting enrolments for semester one, which begins on March 8.


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