Schools Out For Eumundi School of Rock
The Eumundi School of Rock is out for summer with 20 young musicians ready to rock the night away at their annual end of year concert. As the show band rehearses, Jolene Ogle sits down with mentor and musical director Owen ‘OJ’ Newcomb to find out what brings him back year after year.
A childhood surrounded by music was the starting point for OJ’s love of sound. He admits he has always been inspired by music and now, in his third year as a mentor, musical director and the co-creator of the Eumundi School of Rock, he’s excited to inspire the next generation.
“It’s always such a buzz educating young kids how to play and understand music on a deeper level. They are always so present and keen to learn,” he says of the 20 students aged between 9 and 13.
“I also love seeing the joy they get out of the experience. It’s a short program of just three months but we achieve so much i that time and the final concert always sounds and looks so great.
“The kids just light up with excitement and really play so well, often with really challenging songs too.”
Both OJ’s mother and grandmother were musicians and music teachers and OJ said he was lucky to play alongside and be mentored by mature musicians when he was starting out. It was through this experience he learnt life-long lessons that he can now pass on.
“A lot of the passion, understanding, skills and knowledge I gained in those early years I still use today. It is all etched into my memory,” he recalls.
With over 15-years’-experience as a music educator and as a member of the much-loved Band of Frequencies, OJ’s role within the school is to educate the 20 carefully selected young musicians from grades three to eight. The students learn a range of instruments from drums to bass, keys, brass guitar and vocals.
The three-month course culminates in an annual end of year show where the students can showcase their new skills. This year, the concert will be held on Friday 14 December and will include performances by Eumundi School of Rock founder Katie Noonan, Melbourne Rock Trio Dallas Frasca and the School of Rock showcase band – The Valley Drive.
Eumundi School of Rock founder Katie Noonan has as recently built on her musical success by winning her fifth ARIA award for her album Songs of the Latin Skies with Karin Schaupp. She was also part of the team behind the newly included ARIA award for music school teachers, inspired by her time running the Eumundi School of Rock.
The Program provides scholarships for local kids to receive mentoring support by some of Australia’s best musicians. Joining OJ as teachers are guitarist/vocalist Mark Moroney; drummer Brett Newman; vocalist Clint Francis; guitarist/keyboardist Brodie Graham; and National Jazz Award-winning Saxophonist, Zac Hurren.
OJ says it’s important the students learn to work as a team as well as see a dream and work hard to achieve it.
“I also want to help create a generation of well informed, educated and passionate musicians/music lovers,” he says.
“I now share that same experience with my children and they are incredible young people. I believe the gift of music is like no other and it has the ability to really lift people to another frequency,” he says.
For young musicians wanting to break into the music scene, OJ says it all comes down to hard work, passion, humility and being honest with yourself. OJ says it’s the people who work harder than they ever thought possible who make it in the scene.
“They keep learning and discovering, are passionate, do their best at all times and have persistence. These people never give up,” he says.
“Success is not what you own, it’s how happy you are or how happy you feel with what you are doing. In music (or in many things really) the pure joy of doing it is truly a force to be reckoned with and that projects in a very powerful way as a performer. The rest will take care of itself.”