As the nation adjusts to the new reality of life under self-quarantine, artists across the country are finding new ways to connect with people, both through live-streaming gigs to share some musical joy during these trying times, and through writing and recording new material.
For young local musicians like Mary-Lou Hylands, a virtual song-writing program has proved to provide an important creative and social outlet during the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past few weeks, Surf Coast Shire Council’s youth team has moved music, arts and environment programs online during COVID-19 so young people can still access them. One music program initiative that is the FReeZA Isolation Album, which sees young musos take part in workshops with singer-songwriter Rach Brennan from local five-piece indie rock/folk band Rach Brennan & The Pines.
Lorne P-12 College student Mary-Lou said the initial workshops – conducted virtually via Zoom – had been a valuable learning experience.
“We do activities that involve trying to write songs, and improving on how we can write songs,” the 15-year-old said. “The people we work with are experienced songwriters so we’re free to ask questions whenever we like, which can be very helpful.
“I’ve grown up around music and I play in a couple of school bands, as well as some outside of school such as Sweethearts in Geelong. I’m excited to be part of this Surf Coast project, to be able to write songs with other people and to make something with them.”
When state government restrictions allow, the group will record its original songs in a studio to create an album which will be distributed at a live performance.
Rach Brennan, a Forte favourite, is also a Surf Coast Secondary College music teacher and reveals she had been inspired working with young people in new ways.
“It’s definitely different on Zoom – you can’t just hand over the guitar and jam it out. I’m learning a lot about remote learning every time we do it but everyone is really patient,” she said. “We have been working on lyrics and will be diving into chords, production, recording and more industry-based topics over the next few weeks.
“I am hoping that on top of the CD, they can explore some new ways to approach song-writing but most importantly further develop confidence in themselves as artists and trust their artistic instincts. Writing music has been such an important part of my life, both professionally and personally. I hope that my passion translates and that writing music can enrich their lives as it has mine.”
Council’s youth team is regularly in contact with local secondary schools during COVID-19 and is still available to consult with parents and carers about referral pathways for specialist support and treatment for wellbeing issues.
For regular updates on Council’s youth team’s programs and services go to www.facebook.com/SurfCoastYouth.
Photo by Patrick Callow