Ian’s Life Story “My University Days”

July 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Ian's Blog

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Moving to Brisbane in 1998 was a big step for me.  It was my first time venturing into the world by myself.  I have always been a family orientated person and to be living 8 hours away was quite a shock to the system!  My accommodation for my first 6 months was a student boarding house.  It wasn’t the ideal environment for a classical singer.  It was hard to get to sleep at night with other university students playing baseball in the hallways!  It was however a great “social experience” mixing with other people around my age with different interests and views on life.  Living in the middle of a major capital city was a big distraction for a small coastal town guy.  With countless clubs and bars in the area most of my weekends were spent partying with my new found friends.  I became very worldly (or so I thought) in my first 6 months living in Brisbane with many great and some not so great experiences.

Being totally immersed in an environment that you love is very inspiring.  That was my initial experience at the Conservatorium of Music.  I remember watching in awe as some of the senior students presented recitals.  I was regularly given the chance to perform for my peers in vocal workshops.  At first it is a little confronting having a room full of singing students and a panel of vocal coaches basically putting you under a microscope to access your flaws and your strengths.  It was a little scary but very insightful and I learned a lot about my voice by going through this process.  I was very lucky to be taught by one of Australia’s most respected teachers Professor Janet Delpratt during my 4 years at the Conservatorium.  She was very good at teaching the technical side of singing and I incorporate a lot of her techniques and ideas when I am coaching my own students.

I was also very lucky to have a fantastic movement coach.  She was known as a very tough person to please but she took a liking to me!  In fact I was the first person in the Conservatorium to receive a high distinction for movement as a first year student.  I had very little dance experience and coaching when I began the course and for some crazy reason I was cast as a dance soloist for the Company productions.  Imagine me dressed only in knee length pants with a Native American headpiece spinning and leaping around the stage! Eventually I was given lead roles as a singer as I progressed through the course.

After my first 6 months at the Conservatorium I moved out of the Student lodging and into my own place.  My parents bought an investment property quite close to the Conservatorium which I was to call home for the next 3 years.  It was a much more “singer friendly” environment.

In the year 2000 something wonderful happened!  I actually started to get paid to sing!  I was officially the baritone soloist for the St Stephen’s Cathedral.  Now I know that probably doesn’t sound to exciting but at the time it was great to have my talent recognized and to have a bit of money coming in!  At the end of the year a few friends of mine formed a vocal quartet to do corporate gigs during the Christmas period.  My role in the group was to sing the baritone parts.  I was also the groups “human tuning fork” as I have perfect pitch (which means I can sing a note on the piano without hearing it first).  Many of my Aussie subscribers will have heard of the soprano in our group.  Her name is Kate Miller Heidke.  For those of you who haven’t heard of Kate I suggest you do a search in youtube!

2001 was a difficult year for me.  This was to be the last year of my degree and the reality was beginning to set in.  Where is my life heading?  I had lost my passion and courage as a singer.  Perhaps this the result of being “institutionalized” or the fact that I just wasn’t passionate about classical singing.  I just didn’t feel like myself anymore.  I was barely getting by with my paid singing jobs.  I was given a glimmer of hope after auditioning for the Queensland Opera Company.  I made it to their reserve list but there was no guarantee that I would get a position.  I was struggling fiancially and emotionally.  I had lost touch with who I was as a singer and a person.  A change was needed so I decided to get back to my roots and move back to my home town of Port Macquarie.  It was time to get my mojo back!

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