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Making history and music: Teens take mental note during Covid-19

No formals, no schoolies and no festivals.

The year of “no’s” continues to land heavy blows on our young people who are missing vital rites of passage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the power of music prevails at the University of Southern Queensland where groups of gifted teens have been thrown a lifeline in the form of musical education.

For the first time in its 50+-year history, the University is offering a Bachelor of Music program at its Springfield campus.

And the timing couldn’t be better, according to ARIA nominee and APRA award-winning songwriter Mark Scholtes who teaches Music at the University of Southern Queensland.

“Studies have shown that more people, particularly young people, are turning to music to boost mental health and wellbeing in isolation,” Mr Scholtes said.

“Creating and listening to songs has been a way to escape our circumstances during the last few months, and it’s helping inspire our young up-and-coming artists.”

From February next year, students will begin fine-tuning their skills with the new three-year degree covering a range of subjects from Song Writing and Music Production, to Collaborative Music Practice and Managing Your Arts Career.

“And you don’t need to wait for your ATAR results to apply,” Mr Scholtes said.

“We’re been going to schools, auditioning students in their classrooms – where they are the most relaxed and comfortable – and making early offers for those students who we feel would be suitable for the program.”

The school-based auditions are a way of encouraging nervous teens to take that important next step.

“For me it’s about creating opportunities for young people who have a genuine passion for music. Whether they have been learning music formally throughout high school, or they are largely self-taught, I would encourage them to apply and audition,” he said.

The early offer has already drummed up support among local high schoolers with seven students from Woodcrest State College becoming the first to be accepted.

It struck a chord, in particular, with 17-year-old Ipswich teenager Jaymee Tui whose been grappling with her future plans.

“After struggling to decide what I wanted to study at university next year, I came to the realisation that I should follow what I love to do – my passion for music,” Ms Tui said.

“I love that music exists for everyone and how it brings people together and at the University of Southern Queensland there are so many other pathways where my studies can take me and I am so excited.

“I’d love to end up teaching or professionally writing songs.”

If you’re looking to face the music in 2021, applications are now open for the Bachelor of Music program at the University of Southern Queensland.

7 students in uniform singing outside
Seven teens from Woodcrest State College have become the first students accepted into the University of Southern Queensland’s new Bachelor of Music program.