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A new era for SongMakers

Media Published Wednesday 31 May 2023
L-R: SongMakers' Katie Wighton and Kaysei Krzewina 

Tina Broad departs SongMakers on a high note and Katie Wighton is appointed National Program Manager. Kaysei Krzewina is National Program Coordinator.

Victorian Government invests $2m into songwriting at high schools.

"SongMakers provides a unique opportunity to connect young creators with the Australian music industry - developing the next wave of innovators and creators – from anywhere in Australia," said Dean Ormston, Chief Executive, APRA AMCOS.

We are pleased to announce songwriter and musician Katie Wighton as the new SongMakers National Program Manager.

SongMakers is the initiative that brings contemporary music industry mentors into high school classrooms to work with students and teachers on songwriting and production.

The ARIA-award winning artist and APRA AMCOS Ambassador takes the reigns from Tina Broad, who, in more than 10 years as Project Lead, built SongMakers into Australia’s premiere songwriting-in-schools program. The program was informed by Tina’s long-time research into songwriters’ education and career pathways into the global music industry, for which she was awarded a PhD last year.

The future is bright for SongMakers with the Victorian Government announcing an investment of $2 million in last week’s budget to “teach song writing in high schools across the state.” Similarly, the Albanese federal government has made songwriting education in schools part of its new Music Australia agenda under the National Cultural Policy.

“SongMakers would not be the program it is today without the guiding hand and vision of Tina Broad. Tina took an idea, and ran with it, creating a program that provides the spark that has inspired many high school kids to pursue a career in the contemporary music industry. The program equally provides career development for professional artists, music producers and music educators alike,” said Dean Ormston, Chief Executive, APRA AMCOS.

“We’re sad to say goodbye for now to Tina, but very excited to have Katie Wighton head up the program, ensuring its continued growth. Recent announcements from the Australian, NSW and Victorian Governments show that songwriting in schools is becoming an increasing priority as they look to support the sustainable development of our industry.

"SongMakers provides a unique opportunity to connect young creators with the Australian music industry - developing the next wave of innovators and creators – from anywhere in Australia."

Since the first SongMakers workshops in 2013, the program has connected with close to 4,000 young people and their teachers at more than 300 high schools nationally and created more than 1,200 original songs at workshops.

In the last year, SongMakers reached 550 students, who created 150 new songs at schools from Melbourne to Merimbula, Canberra to Coolum, and Devonport to Adelaide.

Tina Broad was Project Lead since the first workshop.

“There’s now a decade of evidence that SongMakers is so effective because it hits on different levels. On the one hand it develops our Australian music industry by opening young people’s minds to how diverse a career in music can – and must – be. As well, it helps build so-called transferrable skills in the young people that participate, whether or not they’ll go on to have music careers: working in teams, meeting deadlines, pushing through comfort zones, and valuing others’ ideas," said Broad.

“It’s been a joy to work with APRA AMCOS to bring together teachers, school communities, education departments, and of course our songwriter and producer mentors. We’ve shown the powerful rewards that come when songwriting is front-and-centre in classrooms, from supporting young people’s mental health, to fast-tracking young aspirants’ global careers."

“I am absolutely thrilled to be involved in a program that is at the forefront of such exciting cultural change in the Australian music industry. SongMakers is inspired and inspiring and it’s an honour and a privilege to be at its helm,” said Wighton, who has first-hand SongMakers experience as a regular mentor.

A number of alums are now active writers, producers and artists in the music industry and they credit their SongMakers experiences with their career direction. A handful of alums return to the program regularly as mentors including producer Taka Perry (Narrabundah College ACT), Chloe Dadd (Ulladulla High, NSW), Chelsea Warner (Kellyville High, NSW) and Tia Gostelow (St Patrick’s Mackay, QLD).

Other mentors include KLP, Ninajirachi, Alice Ivy, Anna Laverty, Woodes, Blake Rhodes (Mr Rhodes) and Tim Commandeur.

Supporting Katie as incoming National Program Coordinator is Kaysei Krzewina, who has a strong background in running music development projects for young people, including in local government.

Up next the program will bring together in Sydney its National Teacher Advisory Group, which has helped steer the program since it began, then host a professional development day for new and returning mentors. School workshops are coming up in Adelaide, regional VIC and regional NSW.