Today is World Music Day. A few years ago, I met this young, jaw dropping individual who not only studied nursing, midwifery AND interior design, but at the ripe old age of 25 is the Founding Director of West Coast Music School in Perth. It’s always interesting hearing how people find their careers – it is never as straight forward as we think it will be when we’re in high school!
Kathryn, tell us about your music school.
West Coast Music School (WCMS) was founded to challenge traditional music education. I was a bit over the old cookie-cutter approach to teaching music, and saw a great need for a more tailored approach! And so, WCMS was born with the focus to build our student’s confidence with music journeys perfectly designed for each individual. Each student is taught based on their own learning style, dreams and goals, and when someone identifies how beautifully unique they are, that’s when the real magic happens!
How old are you?
I’m 25 years old, and my career path has been quite an adventure, that’s for sure! I started playing piano at the age of 5, and it has always been a constant for me. After high school, I went to uni and studied 2 Bachelors of Science (one in Nursing and one in Midwifery) with the goal of becoming a doctor one day. In my first year of uni, I started teaching piano for a bit of pocket money, and I fell in love! Throughout my studies, I continued to teach piano, building my student base up to 28 beautiful souls.
While I was studying, I was unfortunately diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that rendered me sick a lot of the time (and very susceptible to picking up bugs!). I quickly learnt that being in a hospital situation for the rest of my life was probably not going to work very well for me, so I decided to finish my degrees but then go on to pursue something totally different – a career in interior design!
I completed my diploma and started my own design firm, but I just could not give up teaching piano. I loved it so much. The difference that music makes in people’s lives is simply addictive to observe.
And so, I stopped fighting my love of music and decided to pursue it as a career! I opened my first school and we had such a positive response from the community. One thing lead to another, and in 2 years, we opened another 4 schools! We now have 5 schools across the Perth metro area.
Which instruments do you play?
I’m a classical pianist at heart. It really is my happy place! But I am also learning the cello, guitar and how to sing as well. As a child, I also dabbled with violin, choir, & oboe.
Which musicians do you look up to and why?
The classical pianist in me cannot look past Chopin, Debussy & Clementi. The stories that you can tell with their music is what I love most. In terms of modern musicians – I LOVE Adele because she is so relatable, her songs are exquisitely put together and her talent is out of this world.
Do you have a favourite piece?
My favourite piece to play on the piano is Chopin’s Waltz in A Major (Op 69 No 1).
Future Music Aspirations?
My biggest goal is to make a career in music possible for those who wish to pursue it. We are currently creating a Certificate 3 which will be taught in high schools through project based learning that will help us achieve this goal. It is a very exciting time!
Music changes lives…
The beautiful thing about working with music education every day is that you see the most incredible things happen in people’s lives. One of my favourites though, has to be our wonderful student, Ella. When she started lessons with us, she had the most terrible anxiety and was extremely shy. Within 6 months, her family and friends saw the most incredible change in her. She went from being very withdrawn to talking in front of audiences and showing boosted confidence all round. She even sang at our end of year event in front of hundreds of people. It was very moving to see how much she had flourished with the help of music.
Is there something outside of music that inspires you?
For me, I try to expand my exposure to different types of music as much as possible. I also find that journalling and meditation tend to help me channel myself more effectively through music.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Being a musician is one of the most rewarding things in the world. It does take patience, dedication and time, but the rewards are well worth the effort! Persistence, consistency and practice are key in building yourself as a musician. I also want to say that if you are truly passionate about music and want to create a career around it, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you differently – follow your heart and aspirations and you can do whatever you put your mind to. It worked for me and so many of my peers.
Find out more about West Coast Music School here at www.westcoastmusic.com.au, or on Facebook here or Instagram here @west_coast_music_school. Thank you Kathryn for sharing your story with us and encouraging young musicians!
Written by Melody Dexter. Melody is the Founder of Omika. When she’s not working, you’ll find her causing chaos with her not-so-little ones, baking (for therapy) or running (also for therapy :). Despite the name, Melody has zero musical bones in her body and often takes requests to stop singing. We’ll leave the music to Kathryn and her team.