I’m Madelena Andersen-Ward, I’m a self-employed musician. I teach a couple of girls choirs as well as group singing lessons, beginner guitar, beginner piano and I do gigs as a duo, in a cover band and as a solo original material as well.
I went to university at UTas, which is the University of Tasmania and I did a Bachelor of Music majoring in Contemporary voice, which is a Jazz Voice degree. When I was in year twelve, I was involved in a program that helps encourage college students, which in Tasmania that’s year eleven and twelves. It encourages them to go on to university straight away. So when I was in year twelve I did some foundation theory subjects so that I could go straight into a bachelor rather than an associate degree. I still had to do an audition, a performance audition and a theory test as well to get into the Bachelor of Music. Having supportive teachers around and having done the year twelve preparation really helped in getting into the bachelor straight away out of year twelve.
My advice to people thinking about going to university or finishing year twelve is to find something that you’re interested in, something you would like to learn more about, something that you’re passionate about, that you would like to be build a career around. Because going to university is the first part of building that career of a lifestyle and an interest that you want. I chose music because I felt that it was something meaningful to me and that other people can form a connection with it.
Once I got to uni, working on my time management was a big issue. Spending more time at university, at the conservatorium really helped because I was more focused while I was there.
I thought university would be more individual but working at the conservatorium you are actually forced to do a lot of group work and play in bands and cooperate with other people. So it was very hands on, it was very practical and I wasn’t expecting that when I first went.
I didn’t use the Indigenous Support Unit* for academic purposes but there was definitely a social aspect there and people were very supportive. I received some financial support to go on an exchange program while I was studying. In my second year of university I went to Hawaii as part of my exchange program. I got to sing with their jazz ensemble as well as do hula, and history of rock n’ roll, as well as visit their elementary school, which was part of our music and elementary school program.
Studying music is a great option for Indigenous Australians. Because story telling is a big part of our culture, as well as music, you’ll get to work with professionals who can help put together performing arts shows to tell our stories in a contemporary way.
I think it’s really important for Indigenous Australians to continue with their educational journey. It helps to create leaders that can then provide support for people in need. Indigenous Australians are the best people to understand the problems that Indigenous Australians have. So having people in positions of leadership is only going to benefit Indigenous people overall.
*Note: each university may refer to their local Indigenous support services in different ways e.g. Indigenous Education Units; Indigenous Support Units; School of Indigenous Australian Studies; Indigenous Institute etc., and may include Aboriginal and/ or Torres Strait Islander language in the naming title, as relevant to the local area.
Madelena is a self-employed musician from Hobart, TAS. After studying a Bachelor of Music majoring in Contemporary Voice she now teaches girls choirs, group singing lessons, beginner guitar and piano classes. With the help of supportive teachers Madelena was able to leave school and jump straight into her degree. One of her biggest challenges was ensuring she managed her study time effectively. She believes it is important to choose a career path you are passionate about.