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Helping others write their song

After touring Australia and the world, Toby Loveland found his sweet spot using his musical skills teaching at TAFE Queensland.

For many, pursuing a career in the music industry is a scary thought.

“Choosing a creative career can be very risky but the rewards are there if you’re willing to give it a go. Creative people are creative people no matter what. You truly never know where you'll end up if you give yourself a chance,” said Toby.

Some say it’s a tough industry to get started in, but Toby says it’s about taming the risks by choosing the right pathway.

“To be successful in the music industry, you must have lots of strings to your bow. You have to be versatile and adaptable,” he explained.

“It’s not just about being a great performer. There's lots of things in the background: website design, social media, technology, recording, filming, all those things, as well as managing your income, because you're essentially running a small business of your own.”

“I truly believe you can't just pigeonhole yourself in one thing.”

For Toby, stepping into teaching his craft has added a whole new range of rewards.

“Before I taught at TAFE Queensland, I played guitar in bands touring around Australia and even internationally, which was great fun. Now I choose to try to pass on those skills to my students.”

“I became a teacher so that I can give students the gift of music. As corny as that sounds it's a great thing to have. Even if you don't choose it as a career, music's a great fun thing to do.”

“I actually genuinely say it to friends because I do a lot of performances and things like that, and a lot of musicians do teach music as well. I often talk to fellow musicians about teaching. I just like the feel of the place. It's more relaxed and the students are great.”

“I really enjoy the reward of helping them, especially those students that don't feel like they fit into normal education areas. TAFE is more for them because we combine hands-on learning with university thinking.”

For many of Toby’s students, dipping their toes into a music course doesn’t mean they’re going to make it their entire career.

“The beauty of it is that you can just do music as a hobby or as a side-gig, you can do another job and do music as well. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Toby says the different levels of courses offered in the music study area means students can dip their toes into the water of a music career while expanding on their skills.

“For students who aren't sure what they're going to do and maybe are a little freaked out by university, it's a great stepping stone.”

“Also, because we have the options of different levels of study, you can do anything from a certificate right up to a diploma or a bachelor degree. I know a lot of the students I teach aren't sure what to do, are a little bit scared by education and they come and just try a small six-month course.”

“If you're serious, you can start with the diploma or if you're not sure you can start with the certificate three — you can choose what's right for right now.”

“It's also not as scary as it seems to come to TAFE,” Toby grinned.

“It’s a great place to start your education because it’s so practical and hands on.”

Toby balances his teaching career alongside working in the industry, keeping his skills up to date and as current as he can.

“At the moment I'm doing a show: Nine to Five the Musical at QPAC. It's got Marina Prior and Casey Donovan in it. I do a lot of the musicals at QPAC, so they often get fairly large names and I love getting to perform.”

Working alongside others in the industry, Toby acknowledges the calibre of the facilities and equipment available for aspiring and current musicians at TAFE Queensland.

“We are fortunate because we've got the latest technology. We've recently had a great upgrade and we've got everything that they're using in this industry. For working musicians it’s a great opportunity to expand your skills using industry-relevant facilities.”

“We've got a full operational recording studio, a great gig studio which is where we do performances — we are very fortunate with the facilities. It's almost better than what you'd find in the industry.”

Toby is proud of every student who comes through his classroom, and has some great stories about those who've gone on to make great happen in the industry.

“We've had some successful students and bands come through the music department at TAFE Queensland, which is a testament to the quality of learning we offer.”

"One of the most successful bands to come through our music courses has been Sheppard with their huge hit, Geronimo. It was actually originally written as an assignment!”

“At the last minute they were trying to come up with a song for one of their assessment pieces and the song was written. Sheppard is a brother and sister duo; they were both in the course and they wrote the song. So you never know what could happen when studying at TAFE Queensland!” he chuckled.

For Toby though, the most rewarding part of his job is helping students achieve what they think isn’t possible.

“I enjoy if you're helping out a student who may be really nervous or they may have a disability or struggle with their mental health — music is therapy and I love helping those students.”

It really is the satisfaction of seeing his students find success that keeps him in the job.

“If you ask me where I’ll be in five or 10 years, my answer will be right here. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I love getting to perform and teach,” he concluded.

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