The Bec Taylor School of Music article by Allan Sko
“It’s about connecting students to a living, breathing music industry, rather than making music in a vacuum. Bandcamp is like the holiday camp I wish I went to – small scale and full of musical challenges.”
Those are the words of the creator and overseer of The Bec Taylor School of Music… Bec Taylor herself! Established seven years ago by the prolific singer-songwriter (best known for her musical turns in Fun Machine, Glitoris and, of course, her own Bec Taylor & The Lyrebirds), the distinctive music school is a rock-godsend for budding musos, both young and young-at-heart alike.
“It’s really important to me that our teachers are in the industry as modern musicians themselves,” Bec says. “So we have this incredible team of inspiring artists who work with the students.
“We are also really passionate about our students performing and being a part of their community, so we’ve got a series of Smith’s gigs coming up in October for private lesson students. This was very challenging during the pandemic so we’re really looking forward to it!”
The Bec Taylor School of Music Bandmates
Further gigs to this are the Bandmates showcase (the most recent on 14 August, with the next being the Christmas Picnic on the 11 December) which are a culmination of the Bandmates program, a collection of group classes where students play their instruments in a band, working towards real gig opportunities, and learning essential musical skills for being a modern collaborative musician.
“The best part of Bandmates is that our biggest age group is now the adults!” Bec enthuses. “It has been growing a lot since lockdown ended. In classes, our Bandmates work together as a band playing, writing, rearranging, and performing songs in a group environment.”
And it’s not, it seems, simply the furthering of musical ability and start-to-end construction of a song & set to be gleaned.
“What I personally love about the program is the collaborative element to Bandmates; a band is like a team, and every musician plays an essential role. Some wonderful friendships and musical projects have grown from these classes, and it’s just absolutely beautiful to see this community build around a shared love of music.”
Not to mention the marvellous band names that emerge too.
“I just loved the kids who called themselves the Hilltop Hoodies, and the Heroes group (for adults) calling themselves I’d Settle For Cake.”
Fun (and professionalism) for young and old
Initially established as an educational playground for younger folk, Bec is overjoyed that they have organically expanded the age range.
“My grandad saw me playing drums in the school concert band when I was 12. He then decided to pick up music in his 60s,” Bec reports. “He continued to learn six different instruments over the next 20 years.
“Why is it that we think that music is for kids?
“Our school has always been passionate about adults getting involved in music. We really try to make sure they feel supported. It can be hard to put yourself out there,” Bec continues. “Our teachers even run a Community Rock School out of the ANU Open School. While young people make up the majority, we find that our adult students tend to do more lessons, stay longer, practice harder, and make more friends.”
The Business of Bands
Speaking of the more mature among us, it takes some serious Adulting to create and run your own school. Like, what the heck, Bec? Way to make the rest of us look bad!
“Starting any business is a bold move, especially when you quit your day job and put all your eggs in one basket!” she reveals. “As a high-school music teacher, playing and touring as a musician on weekends, I was constantly faced with the glaring gap between what we were teaching kids in schools and the actual real music industry.”
The bold move was spurned by a need to address an evident lack of opportunity.
“It irked me that, as a country, we are still stuck in the 1980s,” Bec quietly fumes, “with underfunded, undervalued, and outdated music education, and yet the real music industry is full of these creative collaborations, performances, and technologies that are constantly evolving.
“Why can’t we, as a country, give our young people the modern musical tools they will need in the future?
“I wanted to start a school where people could learn music in a way that encouraged connection, creativity, and bravery. So yeah, I quit the day job, and here we are seven years later.”
And a richer seven years the musical industry has enjoyed as a result. If you want to unleash your inner rock god, inhabit your indie darling, or inspire your singer-songwriter muse, a class is but a call away. Or why not dip a ringed-toe in the water and pop along to the next Bandmates showcase and see what it’s all about?
“It’s gonna be SO much fun and I’m pretty jealous of the kids,” Bec gleams. “We’re finishing the week with a gig too, so they’re gonna work hard!”
The next Bandcamp for kids is on 26 – 30 September. For more info on this, and everything to do with The Bec Taylor School of Music, head to their website, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.