Svetlana Eliason

EIT’s Music School has come a long way in the last decade. From humble beginnings with the Level 4 certificate, their offerings have expanded through a Level 5 Diploma to the BA in Creative Practice. 

Now their facilities have been upgraded, bringing the teaching environment into step with the standard of education provided and the calibre of work produced. 

In the three weeks they have been in their new home, staff and students alike are relishing the light, air and expanded communal space, away from their previous pre-fabricated impermanent housing. There are rehearsal rooms, computer rooms, and a performance room with stage and PA set up and ready to go, as well as a new mixing desk for the recording studio. 

Students have access to facilities to develop their own creative projects, in keeping with the EIT ethos to provide practical, real world-based education. “Giving students space to work on projects outside of structured course time makes us different to other learning institutions in New Zealand at the moment. It gives them insight into how it is to be in the industry,” says music tutor Sarah Terry, a talented singer-songwriter in her own right.

Terry is excited to move past restrictions to broaden what they can offer their students – hosting guest speakers, live performances and opening up to the wider community. This week they teamed up with Hawke’s Bay Music Hub to host a mentoring workshop with musician Kurt Shanks and music manager,Lorraine Barry, delving into the nitty gritty of how to get a show on the road. It’s part of a free ongoing series open to both students and local musicians. 

Everyone is enthusiastic about getting back to playing in public. “There’s something to be said for live performance. It’s all about the risk – letting people know what you have to say,” says Terry. Level 7 student – and familiar face on stages across Hawke’s Bay and beyond – Richmond Palleson, agrees. “The new facilities are a great place for students to practice their stage craft in front of their peers.”

The students too are enthused about the technological opportunities the new facilities bring. Level 6 student and bass player, Damon Kleischmidt has his eye on the recording studio, particularly the new mixing desk. “It’s super exciting to learn how to operate an analogue mixing set up,” he says.

It’s not just the environment that has changed, but the staff too. Previous IDEAschool head, classical guitarist and recording artist, Matthew Marshall has moved on to a new position in Malaysia. But new blood and internal promotions have helped keep things fresh. 

Accomplished drummer, Tom Pierard, a senior lecturer in music technology has been promoted to the position of Principal Academic Staff Member. “Tom’s multi-layered approach to composition and music technology consistently produces quality pedagogy research.” says EIT’s Executive Director of Student and Academic Services, Jo Blakeley. From this new position, Pierard aims “to continue exploring new directions of music research and progressive pedagogy at EIT.”

An exciting addition to the music school staff is Bulgarian bassist to the stars, Svetlana Eliason. Having relocated from London where she recorded at Abbey Road with Right Said Fred, and toured with Moby, she’s dived into teaching theory as well as live performance. “I’m really enjoying the space…I’m just hoping to inspire the students to create really good music,” says Svetlana.

Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. Level 7 student, drummer and technician, Sebastian Woodham-Budge speaks for his peers when he says, “The new music facilities act as a fresh and inspiring environment, where students can explore their creative outlets using high quality professional equipment.” 

With a wealth of musical talent on campus and the facilities to match we can expect the Taradale hills to ring with the sound of music for some time to come.

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