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Bernard's career hits the right note

After finishing high school Bernard Houston went to university to study entomology and turn his passion for science into his career. He never imagined he could ever craft a career as a musician.

By TAFE Queensland

His love for scientific research meant that his passion for music would be a hobby, and he never imagined he could ever craft a career as a musician.

But after being invited to jam blues music with other musicians, he saw that a music career was a distinct possibility.

"I was the only one who turned up to jam with a flute, so I was the only one invited back," grinned Bernard.

"Turns out, the world needed more jazz flute!"

Armed with his flute and musical knowledge, he began playing in bands, writing songs, recording albums and playing cover gigs to pay his rent.

"It's what you did in the community – you looked after each other. And the more I did it, the better I got at it, and I started working my way up to writing music for films, theatre and cabaret productions, and I was having a lot of fun!"

The more Bernard wrote, played, jammed and recorded, the more his desire to expand his musical knowledge and write the best music possible became.

Knowing that a career as a composer was his future, Bernard began looking at university courses that would expand his skills.

Then, a chance meeting with a TAFE Queensland teacher put him on the study path to the perfect solution.

"My neighbour had studied music at TAFE Queensland, and during a street party, I met his teacher, Dr Ross McLennan."

"After discussing my career aspirations with him, I quickly realised that the University of Canberra course hosted by TAFE Queensland was the one for me as the course offers popular, classical and film music."

So he enrolled to study the Bachelor of Creative Industries (Contemporary Music Practice) (ARB403) to turn his love of music into a career.

During the course, delivered in partnership with the University of Canberra, Bernard developed a broad range of specialised skills and knowledge, thanks to its hands-on training, that he is now using in the real world.

"Studying was wonderful, and I learnt so much about electronic music, how to write a film score, various classical composition techniques and how to write a fantastic pop song. I also learnt how to define and market myself as a creative practitioner while making excellent friends on my journey."

"It was so great that I came back for more, enrolling into the honours program to embark on a project that brought together everything I learnt plus linked in my day job as a facilitator."

His "Symphony for the Third Millennium" project saw Bernard work with Traditional Land Owners and other community members to research his neighbourhood's history.

"I used that history as inspiration for a "Symphony for the Third Millennium, which final work included strings, woodwind, turned percussion, guitar and a stack of electronica," he explained.

Now that he's finished his studies, Bernard is turning his attention to helping other creatives realise their ambitions through the Switchboard Project.

"The Switchboard Project brings together painters, poets, musicians and other performing artists to co-design and co-deliver a series of arts events that activate under-utilised spaces here in Brisbane."

"Over forty artists took part in a brainstorming session, and we finished with a series of quarterly events that we are now delivering to exhibit artists' works, performances and symposiums," he said.

Bernard is now as far from being a scientist as you can be and enthusiastically using his skills to support the creative community while expanding his musical knowledge.

"When I enrolled, TAFE Queensland's website asked, "where can TAFE take you?" and it has provided me with the opportunity to gain academic and professional skills and the capacity to do more with my life, and for that, I am truly grateful."