Mel Croucher, Coffs Harbour Senior College

Comments (0) Interviews

Lace from FOCUS sat down with Mel Croucher, the Music and VET Entertainment Industry Teacher at Coffs Harbour Senior College, to find out about the exciting celebrity visitors they’ve had at the school recording an album with the music students recently.

Can you tell us about the exciting visitors you had come to Coffs Harbour Senior College, and how did this opportunity come about?

I applied for the APRA Song Makers program late last year, which is funded by APRA, and I forgot about it until I was contacted in April to say we were selected to be one of only seven NSW schools this year. As part of this initiative, they sent two renowned Australian music songwriter/producers to the campus for two days to mentor 19 of our Year 11 and 12 students through the songwriting process and then the recording process.

The first day the students were grouped into teams of four/five mixed instrumental groups with at least one vocalist and music producer. They were coached in songwriting and lyric writing. By the end of the second day, we had an EP of four original tracks written and recorded by the students and produced by their celebrity mentors, Ilan Kidron from the Potbelleez and Milan Ring.

It was a whirlwind process, and I’m so blown away by the quality of the songs written and recorded. The songs are all so diverse and relate to themes and issues faced by young people today.

Now I know the students loved the experience, but how do you think this will broaden their horizons for a future career in the music industry?

I think the experience itself was the most important thing they shared. It can be a huge challenge opening yourself up creatively and then being vulnerable within a group of your peers. They all gained confidence and a kinship foremost, but also, a realistic insight into the song making process and how to write, record and produce an original song.

Many of them have gone on to write and record new music since this program and have started preparing themselves for a career in the music industry. For any teacher, it is a huge positive to know that an opportunity opens up many doors for your students.

They have performed live on 105.5 and have been hired for SCU performances and TAFE events this year, where they are able to gain valuable performance experience.

And the album they recorded; how can we get a copy? 

We have loaded them on the Coffs Harbour Senior College SoundCloud page; just open the page or app and search for Coffs Harbour Senior College. Also, they are available on our Coffs Harbour Senior College YouTube channel. You may also hear them played on local 105.5 radio station, and we will be performing them at our 2018 Enrolment OPEN DAY on July 29th between 12 – 4pm at CHEC.

I hear this isn’t the only exciting thing that’s happened lately at Coffs Harbour Senior College. I hear our talented music students also brought quite a crowd on their trip to the big smoke? 

Yes, it was quite funny and sweet, actually. Every year we take a large group of our Seniors to Sydney to sing at Town Hall, and after the live streamed show we were walking home to the hotel and the students saw a lone busker on George Street, with no one listening to him. They begged to go support him, and this turned into an epic karaoke party with the Japanese tourist busker, lasting one hour.

What started as just the 25 CHSC students soon became a street party with 150 plus people and street police coming to keep the crowd safe, as we sang and danced to the cover songs on George St. It was one of those moments as a teacher that moves you … As a human, it moves you to see the humanity and happiness so alive in complete strangers. This all started because of some country kids, who have big hearts. I was so proud, and surprisingly the media got hold of some videos, and it was shared on ABC Sydney and the ABC Mid North Coast pages.

From the students of  Coffs Harbour Senior College … We chatted to Lily D’Adam, a talented vocalist in Year 12 at the Senior College, and asked her how the students enjoyed these amazing experiences. Lily said, “Being a part of the music scene at CHSC has been one of the most amazing opportunities I’ll ever get. Collaborating with other students and being able to attend a wide variety of events such as the Song Makers workshop and our showcase evenings has made our experiences in the classroom a fun filled adventure, while still learning all of the vital information we need to complete our HSC and further our music endeavours.​

“I feel I can confidently approach my own original songs, and I am feeling equiped to chase my dream of being a singer songwriter thanks to these experiences.”

What the artists had to say (Ilan Kidron and Milan Ring) …

“I wish I had gone to a School like this! With such a nurturing and unique environment, the possibilities for these students are endless! Whether you are budding musician actor, artist, mathematician, writer, engineer etc … The sky’s the limit at Coffs Harbour Senior College.”

Coffs Harbour Senior College will be holding their OPEN DAY for all 2018 enrolments between 12pm and 4pm on Saturday, July 29th at the Coffs Harbour Education Campus.

All interested parents and young adults are welcome to attend this fun event, to see their state of the art facilities and meet the impressive staff. You will also get a chance to hear these talented musicians on stage! For more information, see the Coffs Harbour Senior College website, Facebook or call 6659 3054.

Thanks Mel.

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