The 24-year-old from Paradise Point picked up his first guitar 10 years ago, when he asked his father to buy him the video game Guitar Hero and instead received an acoustic guitar.
“I mostly taught myself how to play and I’ve been trying to start bands for a few years now, but it wasn’t until I enrolled in the Diploma of Music Industry (CUA50815) at TAFE Queensland that things really happened for me,” said Mathew.
“Being immersed with musically-minded students and learning from more experienced musicians really helped me to expand my horizons and experiment with sounds.”
It was at TAFE Queensland's Coomera Creative campus where Mathew met Jack Merriman, a 25-year-old professional drummer with a thriving career to his name.
“Within the first few days of class we had a bit of an insight into everyone’s musical background and what instrument each other played, and Mat asked if I wanted to jam to show me some song ideas he had,” said Jack.
“We instantly hit it off by talking about our inspirations and influences, and within days we formed our own band called Vultura.”
Prior to enrolling at TAFE Queensland, Jack had a successful musical career which saw him support renowned international artists such as Smash Mouth, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and more.
The Upper Coomera local also performed at the 2012 and 2014 Big Day Out festivals, and toured Australia and the Philippines with various bands.
Even though Jack already had a rewarding drumming career, he made the decision to formally study music to enhance his practical skills and further develop his knowledge.
“I enrolled in the Diploma of Music Industry (CUA50815) at TAFE Queensland to further understand the theory behind music and explore new skills in production and song writing, as well as obtain a nationally recognised qualification to hopefully teach music one day,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mathew had studied other courses in the past but kept being drawn back to music.
“It wasn’t until I got let go from my apprenticeship in 2018 that I finally decided to stop kidding myself and jump into music with everything I had,” he said.
“It was definitely the best decision of my life, as I have accomplished more in my career during the one year at TAFE Queensland than I achieved in six years of trying to do it by myself.”
“Before studying music, I wasn’t in a band and I had no real prospects and no clear direction to achieve what I wanted. But by the time I finished the diploma I’d started two bands, joined another, met a whole bunch of awesome musicians, and played at some considerable venues and events, as well as made lifelong friends.”
Both Mathew and Jack graduated last year and decided to continue their educational journey by enrolling in the Bachelor of Contemporary Music (3003140) offered in partnership with Southern Cross University.
Mathew said the fundamental reason he decided to continue on to the bachelor program was because of the teachers.
“I learnt so much from each of them, as they are as eager to impart their knowledge of the music industry as we are to ask about it,” he said.
“The value of three extra years on campus to pick their brains about music and having the opportunity to develop working relationships with them cannot be overstated.”
Jack agreed and said the teachers provide valuable insight into how the industry works and are happy give advice based on their own personal experiences.
“Studying at TAFE Queensland has led to the formation of a vast network of industry contacts, not only from the teachers but also sound production students, film students and graphic design students, who I've already been able to collaborate with.”
To other musicians who are thinking about studying music at TAFE Queensland, whether they are playing in their garages at home or on the main stages of festivals, Mathew and Jack said to stop thinking about it and get to the Coomera Creative campus to check it out.
“The best way to grow as a musician is to just surround yourself with it, and there’s no better way to do it than through study,” said Mathew.
Jack said to any musician looking to find a band, increase their network, or just take their musical skills to the next level should consider studying music at TAFE Queensland.
“The contacts you make alone justifies it, but the value of the skills you will learn are indispensable.”