Tertiary Experience Tour Report

At the end of August, a tour to Sydney had been organised for Year 10, 11 and 12 students interested in tertiary music studies. The tour included the NSW Conservatorium and Sydney University Open Day activities, tours of Sydney University colleges and attendance at the Opera Australia production of West Side Story. Laura Curotta and Robert Jackson accompanied 12 senior students on the journey to Sydney and were excited to let us know about their experience:

We met NECOM students at Armidale Train Station and departed on time for Sydney.  There were no delays and we arrived as planned and then we caught the train to Wynyard and walked to YHA The Rocks.  We walked to the Opera House at 6:50pm and stopped for some photos along the way. The show was fabulous and as we were all seated in the boxes, had a birds-eye view into the orchestra pit.  After the show, we took some group photos and met Tony at Stage Door and enjoyed a chat and special photo with him too.

Saturday morning we met for breakfast and left to walk to the Conservatorium at 8:50am.  We were greeted by Jacqui Smith who gave each of us a Sydney University carry bag full of information.  We were then escorted around the top floor by a student ambassador before going to Verbruggen Hall for an address by the Dean Professor Anna Reid on “why study music”.  She gave an insightful talk on taking up music and the cello aged 12 and how music allows us to examine the past but also into the future and most of all how music is a communicator.  Deputy Dean Professor Matthew Hindson then gave an outline of the courses on offer including some recently introduced Bachelor of Music courses with majors in:

  • Contemporary Music Practice Program
  • Composition for Creative Industries Program
  • Digital Music and Media Program
  • Improvised Music Program

These courses reflect the diversity of the music industry and career opportunities.  After the addresses in Verbruggen Hall, we took the students for a tour of the rest of the building and then split up for one-on-one discussions with various booths set up in the atrium from the string, woodwind, vocal departments etc as part of the University Open Day.  Some students then went to watch a short concert and presentation by the historical performance unit while others went to the digital music labs.  We then had lunch in the café, meeting up with Ziggy Harris (NECOM Alumni 2017) and Jonathan Bruhl (NECOM Alumni 2018) and returned to Verbruggen for a dress rehearsal of the Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra playing Mahler 1.  At 1:30pm we took the free shuttle to Sydney University and walked to the Main Quadrangle.  “It’s just like Hogwarts” was the phrase most uttered! We arranged our rendezvous point for 30mins time and let the kids go with Laura to MacLaurin Hall for the Arts subjects and Robert to the Great Hall for the maths and science subjects.  More pamphlets were collected and questions asked and answered.  We all then met up again and walked to Wesley College for a tour.  On arriving at the college we were treated to afternoon tea which was very welcomed as we had done a lot of walking and the weather had just started to drizzle again.  Fed and rested, Ziggy Harris was on hand to walk us through the college.  It was a maze of corridors and rooms – some labelled “open for inspection” which showed a range of room sizes, tastes and states of tidiness!  Robert was able to share some of his experiences of living at Wesley and pointed out his brother’s name on the Wesley Senior Student Honour Roll in the dining hall.

Isabella Post (NECOM Alumni 2016) met us at Wesley and walked us next door to Women’s College where she has been living this year.  She took us via her room which had a beautiful view of the courtyard but more impressive was the enormous study planner on her wall.  She explained to the students how important it is to stay on top of work, study and fitness and how keeping calendars and lists helps her to do this.  After thanking Isabella for her tour and inspiration, we then left the university grounds and walked up to neighbouring King Street Newtown for some R and R.  We enjoyed some fun browsing and a few cheeky purchases at the epic Newtown Vinnies Op Shop.  We had a dinner reservation for 7pm at Chat Thai in Circular Quay in the newly built Gateway Centre.  It was a LOT of food and a lovely end to a big day.  An epic game of UNO was then enjoyed on the rooftop of the YHA before bed.

Breakfast was early at 7am as we needed to get our rooms ready for departure.  Again, we were very lucky there were no delays and we made it home on time at 5:30pm. The three alumni students we met up with at Sydney University all participated in a similar Tertiary Experience Tour we undertook in 2016.  The goal of the tour was to broaden the horizons of students who are capable of tertiary music study.  From those 12 students who participated in 2016, 10 are currently full-time students in Sydney University, Griffith University, UNE and Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide.  They have cited the tour they did as senior high school students for being the key motivating factor in aiming high.  Our wish is that the tour last weekend will have just as strong an impact on this group of students.

Laura Curotta

Robert Jackson