For Joy Chayna, finding a college or university that was community-focused and backed by strong Christian values was very important to her when deciding on where to study. After finishing her New South Wales Higher School Certificate (HSC) in 2016, Joy didn’t have her heart set on a particular course. ‘I was never the person who knew what I wanted to do post-school,’ Joy explains. One thing was certain though, music was in her blood. Growing up with a musical mother, both Joy and her brother were enrolled in piano lessons from a young age. Later, as a teenager, Joy was involved in school bands, jazz improvisation, and various ensembles at the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music. ‘Those were my extracurricular activities and I thought that was the natural pathway because that was my thing.’ Sadly, Joy’s mother passed away when she was in Year 11 but her death was the catalyst for Joy deciding to carry on her mother’s love for music and all the hard work her mother had invested in her.


Joy also didn’t have her heart set on a particular place of study. ‘I was weighing up whether to attend my local uni, the University of Wollongong, to study a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Music or audition for the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) or The Conservatorium of Music (both located in Sydney).’ In 2016, after attending an Excelsia College open day, Joy found what she was looking for. ‘I noticed that everyone was so nice and seemed to know one another and it was a homely environment. Community is my big thing, and I love people and intentionality, so seeing a college that stands for that is something I wanted to be a part of. That was my process of thinking around Excelsia.’


After successfully being accepted into a Bachelor of Music (Classical piano), Joy decided to defer to do a gap year with Morling College. ‘I wanted to be a year older and have a bit more maturity before I came to Excelsia,’ Joy explains. In 2018, Joy joined the Excelsia community and cemented her Christian faith in the process. ‘I’ve always been part of a really strong Christian family and grew up in a very protective and sheltered Christian bubble.’ Excelsia played a key role in contributing to Joy’s personal faith. ‘Moving out of home as an 18-year-old, I found meeting new people at Excelsia was really formative for me in being more concrete in my values and for standing up for what I believe in … Excelsia really helped me to form my identity and was a safe space to express my values … The lecturers were always up for a chat.’


During her studies, Joy was also working part-time at a music school where she taught piano. With her years of experience performing to crowds, it’s a surprise to hear that performance anxiety plagued Joy, stripping her of completely enjoying music. Thankfully, Excelsia was able to help Joy overcome these anxieties. ‘I had performance anxiety and it was very debilitating, I wouldn’t be able to move. But I had a really nurturing piano teacher who was relational, so we almost had mini counselling sessions in our lessons. It was really helpful to understand how deeply music is not just a physical thing where I play; it’s an emotional thing as well.’ The performance degree also allowed Joy to discover who she was as a person. ‘When you’re forced to work in group situations to do assessments and encouraged to come to different events, you’re constantly being forced out of your comfort zone. It’s almost like you can’t feel isolated going to the College because you’re surrounded by community and events.’


Excelsia’s creative and performing arts programs expose students to a variety of front of house roles, as well as behind-the-scenes work. ‘Because of its size, Excelsia enables you to do things in a way that a big college couldn’t do. Because you’re known by everyone, you can get involved in more unique ways,’ Joy explains. ‘We got to be stage manager one week or pack down equipment another week and I feel like these tasks encouraged a sense of ownership. You get to do every job at least once, so it gives you a taste of it all.’ Joy also had a strong work ethic instilled in her from the teaching staff. ‘The lecturers went above and beyond. I think they really encouraged a system of “this is your responsibility, and we won’t baby you”. They treated us like adults and taught us good life lessons on learning to be responsible for ourselves. It was a balance of tough love but a really kind way of doing it.’

For Joy, the live performances were a highlight of her time at Excelsia. ‘The music students got to perform in classical concerts where we would dress up in fully Shakespearean costume; it was the best thing in the world for the classical buffs! I remember we got to do a porch concert on our teacher’s terrace in Newtown to random people in the street and gigs in Marrickville at cool bars. Those experiences really shaped my time at Excelsia. The campus was also a warm and inviting environment and I honestly just really enjoyed being in the student lounge space and hanging out with people,’ Joy explains.


Since finishing at Excelsia in June this year, Joy has been busy undertaking wedding preparation and continuing to tutor piano at a local music school. Within the next six months, Joy hopes to complete her Early Childhood Education Certificate, and later a Master of Teaching to enable her to teach in schools. As for her long-term goals: ‘I want to create my own music school business to encourage kids in their musical pursuits, but which is also a space where my employees love coming to work. I want the parents of my students to feel known and I want to create a community where people feel safe, accepted, and valued. If I can do that through my musical gifts that would be a fun medium, so I am working towards that. I need a lot of money to start that up – to buy a place, buy some pianos and resources and employ teachers – so that’s a long-term goal,’ says Joy.


In terms of what advice Joy would give to future Excelsia students, she recommends going in with an open mind. ‘It enables you to make the most of the opportunity and meet people, and get involved in any activities. It’s up to you to fully enjoy the experience here. For me, I got to meet lots of students and, through my assessments, people in the industry, which was super formative not only for being in the industry but for life. You can sit back, complain and not do things but if you go in with an open mind and a positive attitude it can be a really enjoyable experience and you can learn tons and meet people.’


We can’t wait to see where Joy ends up using her musical gifts. If you feel inspired by Joy’s journey, why not explore Excelsia’s Bachelor of Music course

Community and Christian fellowship are what attracted this student to Excelsia | Joy Chayna

You never know the impact your actions and words can have on shaping a person’s future career. For Jenelle Magtibay, it was the nurture and encouragement of her Year 11 and 12 music teacher that led her to enrol in Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Music. The 21-year-old, who completed her course this year, chose to major in music performance, with voice as her primary instrument and piano and bass guitar as her supporting instruments. Jenelle is putting her training to good use and currently working as a music teacher at Real Rhythm Studio in Fairfield, Ignite Music in Dural and a private tutor at her own business, Jenelle’s Singing School. Outside of Excelsia, Jenelle is also involved in her local church community where she serves on worship band.

Music has played an integral part of Jenelle’s life, particularly during her high school years when she developed her passion for vocals and R’n’B, contemporary and soul music. ‘I pursued music all my way through high school from Years 7 to 12 and then chose to do Music 1 for my HSC (Higher School Certificate) course. Since Year 9, I knew I wanted to pursue music in some way. I always had the dream to study music therapy, and it was my Music 1 music teacher who encouraged me to consider enrolling in a music course. She was very much like a mum to me, and she’d always guide me and take care of me and make sure that I was doing my work.’

After reaching the end of her Bachelor of Music course, Jenelle became unsure about pursuing music therapy, based on the audition component. ‘I could do the singing part but wasn’t sure about the instrumentation to accompany myself so I was asking God, “What else can I do?” I felt teaching was placed back into my heart; it’s something I also wanted to do as a kid.’ Jenelle was also encouraged by her teachers at Excelsia College who saw traits in her that could complement teaching. ‘My teachers Dr Lotte Latukefu and Elizabeth Blackwood would always say that I’m a natural leader and good at helping people, so I guess those skills of leading people, helping people and teaching were honed more during my time at Excelsia.’

Now studying her Masters of Secondary Education and Training, Jenelle hopes to become a high school music teacher, specifically educating Year 11 and 12 students. In this role, she hopes to show the same nurture and support she received from her teacher to the next generation of music students. ‘Although I don’t know what kind of teacher I will be until I start teaching in the classroom, I know the most important thing is to have a student and teacher relationship. I want students to come to me and to be able to engage in a positive way.’ The Bachelor of Music prepared Jenelle not only with performance skills but also how to communicate with and teach people with disability, as well as how to navigate students with behavioral issues.

As a committed Christian, Jenelle sees music as a vocation where she can daily demonstrate her faith. ‘Even without saying the word “God”, you can show your Christian faith through loving your students, through caring for them, and even discipline is a way to show you care and love them,’ she explains. It is Excelsia’s Christian values that attracted Jenelle to the College in the first place. ‘I went to a Catholic high school, but reaching the tertiary education stage of my life, I wanted to choose a Christian college. I felt a calling from God to go to the College rather than a secular university. I felt that faith in my classes. Even in class God was there. Post-class we’d talk to the teachers or mentors about life, church, or God if we were struggling. We had a music coordinator who would sit down and have a chat with us and ask us what God would want us to do or what God is teaching us this time. It was really nice to have chats like that.’

It was these conservations and her Christian faith that helped Jenelle to become confident in herself. ‘I learned important life lessons during my time at Excelsia, including sticking to who I know I am in God. This helped me to not sway from my beliefs and I learned that I didn’t need to please other people.’

When asked about how she would describe Excelsia, Jenelle calls it a ‘cosy, friendly, inviting and a close-knit community. ‘I would sit on the couch and say hi to people walking past as they were going to class. I spent every weekday at Excelsia, that’s how much I loved being there and hanging out with my friends, practising and jamming.’

Getting to know teaching staff and students from different faculties opened up opportunities for the music student, who helped to promote the College as student ambassador. Jenelle was also able to put her voice to good use for Excelsia’s 2020 musical Songs From a New World. Due to COVID-19, the College’s drama department decided to produce its very first virtual musical and Jenelle unexpectedly found herself front and centre! ‘My thought was that I was going to help the drama students by singing in it but then the director was like, no, you’re the lead! It was a good opportunity to learn from the drama department before leaving my degree,’ says Jenelle.

Excelsia College is delighted that Jenelle has been able to develop her inner confidence, flourish and continue to grow in her Christian faith. We can’t wait to hear where her voice takes her next! If you feel inspired by Jenelle’s story, why not explore Excelsia’s Bachelor of Music course?

How a teacher’s encouragement helped shape a career path | Excelsia Student

When Priyanka Reddy Allu first stepped foot on Excelsia College’s campus grounds in July 2018, she distinctly remembers having no idea where she was and which way she needed to go. ‘I remember on my first day of orientation, I was so clueless and someone saw me and said, are you okay, is everything fine?’ Like most first-year students, she had no idea how to locate her classroom. Thankfully in a matter of minutes, she’d received a helping hand and found her counselling class. It was that moment that sticks out in Priyanka’s mind as she describes Excelsia College as a place that instantly felt like home.

Making the massive leap from India, Australia’s high quality of education is what first attracted Priyanka to our shores. ‘From the beginning I started looking for courses in Australia. Going through the counselling course description at Excelsia, I was very much interested because it’s not just basics they teach you, but it was the fact that there were more practical units that really drew my attention,’ Priyanka explains. It wasn’t, however, an easy transition for Priyanka to assimilate into a completely new culture and she felt very out of place at the start, homesick and not sure how long she would last in Australia. ‘I was going down mentally, not adjusting to the environment, the house and people; it was a great struggle.’ Priyanka also came with her own cultural expectations and judgements about how people were going to treat her. ‘I wondered who was going to sit with me, but this course proved to me that this was the wrong thinking. We have a very culturally diverse class and that really helped a lot to make me feel comfortable. There’s a lot of peer support and shared group experiences and that was something valuable to the course,’ Priyanka notes.

Back home in India, Priyanka had completed her Bachelor’s in Fashion Technology, combining her passion for painting and exploring different clothing styles. She worked for two years in the field but underwent her own life challenges when she struggled with depression. It was the caring support of a counsellor that acted as the catalyst for Priyanka’s completely new career direction. ‘I just remember the first time I took counselling and the experience that I had, how I was able to connect to my counsellor. The kind of compassion she was providing me and her being open-minded really moved me. Immediately I realised there are enough designers in the world, and I need to get into counselling to help someone else,’ Priyanka explains. She then made the switch to studying a Diploma in Counselling in India and worked for one year in schools and colleges.

Whilst the Diploma in India helped provide Priyanka with a foretaste to counselling, she doesn’t feel like it scratched the surface on what she studied in her Master course. This became evident when she went for her interview at St Vincent’s Hospital and was able to confidently answer all the questions. ‘That’s when I realised that Excelsia College prepared me so well and whatever I shared with them during the interview was enough for them to train me. Looking back, I can confidently say it exceeded my expectations. I feel complete after doing this course, I’m not lacking anything.’ As part of their rigorous training, students are required to undergo 200 hours of counselling and 100 hours of practicum. The last unit students complete is about counselling and their personal experience with clients. ‘I picked up a lot of tricks to compartmentalise and do a lot of self-care as well,’ said Priyanka.

‘I liked the practical work and being able to talk about our own experiences and practise the theories we’ve just learned. Also, the lecturers sharing their own personal experiences were really helpful all round,’ Priyanka explains. ‘It’s not a job where it’s like, here’s this part of theory and this is what you need to do. Every day is constantly rewarding because there’s different clients and theories that we need to apply and different kinds of approaches. It’s very brain stimulating and constant learning and that’s what I love,’ Priyanka said.

Creating a women’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation program is what Priyanka envisaged herself doing when she first decided to take this course; nearly three years on, her dreams are becoming a reality. Following her graduation in November 2020, the Master of Counselling alumnus has been working at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst. Since her practicum in women’s rehabilitation, and after joining the alcohol and drug department of the Mental Health Unit, Priyanka has provided counselling services and created group programs in mindfulness. ‘I was providing individual counselling, sitting with them, giving them support, listening to them and building their trust. I also created group programs on awareness and adapting to change and developing tolerance.’ Priyanka feared she wouldn’t connect with her clients, especially when many of her clients weren’t from the same cultural background. Thankfully it was a positive experience for her, and Priyanka was able to build a rapport with her clients over time, seeing them come up in different places.

Although it has been a challenging two-year journey, Priyanka has felt supported by Excelsia the whole way through. ‘I remember starting my practical during the beginning of lockdown. I joined one place and within two weeks it was closed. I had even moved to another house and bought a car to travel because it was very far from me, located on the outskirts of Sydney. Thankfully I was still able to do my three practicums – one at Excelsia and the others externally – and I was getting the right support and finishing on time due to my visa requirements. Priyanka remembers Bobby Abraham, Chief Admissions, Global Engagement and Partnerships as the first person who made her feel welcome, as well as the School Administrative Coordinator who helped answer questions regarding documents, courses, and enrolments. ‘The College doesn’t let you struggle on your own. There’s proper guidance that comes throughout the journey and there’s always someone who’s ready to help, no wonder what time it is,’ said Priyanka.

Priyanka also noticed the genuine care of the Excelsia teaching staff, something she wasn’t accustomed to. ‘The lecturers made me feel at home and I stopped missing my family…I think that’s very important for students coming from overseas. It was more like a family: comfortable, welcoming, supportive in all ways, not just educationally, and they would always follow up to see if we had good places to live and whether we had part-time jobs…I’ve never experienced such things in India. The lecturers there are super strict; you can’t even call them by their names, you must address them as teacher.’ Excelsia is proud to be an interdenominational Christian-based community and accepting of all cultures and backgrounds. ‘The classes started with prayer to have a safe environment and closed in prayer. Although I’m not Christian, I could feel that energy in the class that it was a very safe space,’ Priyanka says.

Since joining the Excelsia community, Priyanka has developed not only her professional identity but evolved as a whole person. ‘Excelsia definitely helped prepare me to look at things in a non-judgemental way and with an open mind. A lot of self-work and healing has really helped me to become a better person and better understand relationships. I also used to hold negative thoughts but now I’m able to turn them into positive ones and that’s really changing the way I view the relationships I have and the people I surround myself with,’ she says. Priyanka also noticed a contrast between Excelsia’s counselling course and learning structure when she spoke to students from the capstone unit in the practicum, and the knowledge they acquired was very theoretical and they had to do stuff on their own without support. ‘That’s when I knew that I’ve taken so much from this course and the College.’

It doesn’t look like it’s the end of the road when it comes to further studies for Priyanka. ‘I’m planning on studying criminology in the future but for the next 6 to 12 months, I’ll be getting trained in opioid treatment. It’s something very new, and it’s challenging to do the mediation and understand the kind of drugs involved. I want to take part in DBT groups (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), create more group programs, and see how these can be useful to treat alcohol and drug issues.’

Priyanka’s advice to anyone contemplating studying counselling is to start whenever you want to. ‘Whether you’re twenty, thirty, sixty or even ninety years old, you can not only make a difference in others’ lives, but you can also change your world view as you learn to better understand not only yourself but also others.’ We can’t wait to see where Priyanka ends up and we’re thrilled to have been a part of her journey.

To find out more about our counselling courses, please visit our Counselling School page:

excelsia.edu.au/courses/counselling

When Priyanka Reddy Allu first stepped foot on Excelsia College’s campus grounds in July 2018, she distinctly remembers having no idea where she was and which way she needed to go. ‘I remember on my first day of orientation, I was so clueless and someone saw me and said, are you okay, is everything fine?’ Like most first-year students, she had no idea how to locate her classroom. Thankfully in a matter of minutes, she’d received a helping hand and found her counselling class. It was that moment that sticks out in Priyanka’s mind as she describes Excelsia College as a place that instantly felt like home.


Making the massive leap from India, Australia’s high quality of education is what first attracted Priyanka to our shores. ‘From the beginning I started looking for courses in Australia. Going through the counselling course description at Excelsia, I was very much interested because it’s not just basics they teach you, but it was the fact that there were more practical units that really drew my attention,’ Priyanka explains. It wasn’t, however, an easy transition for Priyanka to assimilate into a completely new culture and she felt very out of place at the start, homesick and not sure how long she would last in Australia. ‘I was going down mentally, not adjusting to the environment, the house and people; it was a great struggle.’ Priyanka also came with her own cultural expectations and judgements about how people were going to treat her. ‘I wondered who was going to sit with me, but this course proved to me that this was the wrong thinking. We have a very culturally diverse class and that really helped a lot to make me feel comfortable. There’s a lot of peer support and shared group experiences and that was something valuable to the course,’ Priyanka notes.


Back home in India, Priyanka had completed her Bachelor’s in Fashion Technology, combining her passion for painting and exploring different clothing styles. She worked for two years in the field but underwent her own life challenges when she struggled with depression. It was the caring support of a counsellor that acted as the catalyst for Priyanka’s completely new career direction. ‘I just remember the first time I took counselling and the experience that I had, how I was able to connect to my counsellor. The kind of compassion she was providing me and her being open-minded really moved me. Immediately I realised there are enough designers in the world, and I need to get into counselling to help someone else,’ Priyanka explains. She then made the switch to studying a Diploma in Counselling in India and worked for one year in schools and colleges.


Whilst the Diploma in India helped provide Priyanka with a foretaste to counselling, she doesn’t feel like it scratched the surface on what she studied in her Master course. This became evident when she went for her interview at St Vincent’s Hospital and was able to confidently answer all the questions. ‘That’s when I realised that Excelsia College prepared me so well and whatever I shared with them during the interview was enough for them to train me. Looking back, I can confidently say it exceeded my expectations. I feel complete after doing this course, I’m not lacking anything.’ As part of their rigorous training, students are required to undergo 200 hours of counselling and 100 hours of practicum. The last unit students complete is about counselling and their personal experience with clients. ‘I picked up a lot of tricks to compartmentalise and do a lot of self-care as well,’ said Priyanka.


‘I liked the practical work and being able to talk about our own experiences and practise the theories we’ve just learned. Also, the lecturers sharing their own personal experiences were really helpful all round,’ Priyanka explains. ‘It’s not a job where it’s like, here’s this part of theory and this is what you need to do. Every day is constantly rewarding because there’s different clients and theories that we need to apply and different kinds of approaches. It’s very brain stimulating and constant learning and that’s what I love,’ Priyanka said.


Creating a women’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation program is what Priyanka envisaged herself doing when she first decided to take this course; nearly three years on, her dreams are becoming a reality. Following her graduation in November 2020, the Master of Counselling alumnus has been working at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst. Since her practicum in women’s rehabilitation, and after joining the alcohol and drug department of the Mental Health Unit, Priyanka has provided counselling services and created group programs in mindfulness. ‘I was providing individual counselling, sitting with them, giving them support, listening to them and building their trust. I also created group programs on awareness and adapting to change and developing tolerance.’ Priyanka feared she wouldn’t connect with her clients, especially when many of her clients weren’t from the same cultural background. Thankfully it was a positive experience for her, and Priyanka was able to build a rapport with her clients over time, seeing them come up in different places.


Although it has been a challenging two-year journey, Priyanka has felt supported by Excelsia the whole way through. ‘I remember starting my practical during the beginning of lockdown. I joined one place and within two weeks it was closed. I had even moved to another house and bought a car to travel because it was very far from me, located on the outskirts of Sydney. Thankfully I was still able to do my three practicums – one at Excelsia and the others externally – and I was getting the right support and finishing on time due to my visa requirements. Priyanka remembers Bobby Abraham, Chief Admissions, Global Engagement and Partnerships as the first person who made her feel welcome, as well as the School Administrative Coordinator who helped answer questions regarding documents, courses, and enrolments. ‘The College doesn’t let you struggle on your own. There’s proper guidance that comes throughout the journey and there’s always someone who’s ready to help, no wonder what time it is,’ said Priyanka.


Priyanka also noticed the genuine care of the Excelsia teaching staff, something she wasn’t accustomed to. ‘The lecturers made me feel at home and I stopped missing my family…I think that’s very important for students coming from overseas. It was more like a family: comfortable, welcoming, supportive in all ways, not just educationally, and they would always follow up to see if we had good places to live and whether we had part-time jobs…I’ve never experienced such things in India. The lecturers there are super strict; you can’t even call them by their names, you must address them as teacher.’ Excelsia is proud to be an interdenominational Christian-based community and accepting of all cultures and backgrounds. ‘The classes started with prayer to have a safe environment and closed in prayer. Although I’m not Christian, I could feel that energy in the class that it was a very safe space,’ Priyanka says.


Since joining the Excelsia community, Priyanka has developed not only her professional identity but evolved as a whole person. ‘Excelsia definitely helped prepare me to look at things in a non-judgemental way and with an open mind. A lot of self-work and healing has really helped me to become a better person and better understand relationships. I also used to hold negative thoughts but now I’m able to turn them into positive ones and that’s really changing the way I view the relationships I have and the people I surround myself with,’ she says. Priyanka also noticed a contrast between Excelsia’s counselling course and learning structure when she spoke to students from the capstone unit in the practicum, and the knowledge they acquired was very theoretical and they had to do stuff on their own without support. ‘That’s when I knew that I’ve taken so much from this course and the College.’


It doesn’t look like it’s the end of the road when it comes to further studies for Priyanka. ‘I’m planning on studying criminology in the future but for the next 6 to 12 months, I’ll be getting trained in opioid treatment. It’s something very new, and it’s challenging to do the mediation and understand the kind of drugs involved. I want to take part in DBT groups (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), create more group programs, and see how these can be useful to treat alcohol and drug issues.’


Priyanka’s advice to anyone contemplating studying counselling is to start whenever you want to. ‘Whether you’re twenty, thirty, sixty or even ninety years old, you can not only make a difference in others’ lives, but you can also change your world view as you learn to better understand not only yourself but also others.’ We can’t wait to see where Priyanka ends up and we’re thrilled to have been a part of her journey.


To find out more about our counselling courses, please visit our Counselling School page:

excelsia.edu.au/courses/counselling

Alongside hospitality, air travel and tourism, and sports and recreation, the creative arts and entertainment sector has sadly been a directly hit industry that was forced to cease operations throughout COVID-19 restrictions (Wilkins, 2021). Throughout 2020, the Sydney Theatre Company’s operating revenue dropped by $17.8 million compared to 2019, with 7 out of 12 scheduled productions cancelled (Litson, 2021). For some artists like Miriam Green, lockdown has been a time to show creativity and innovation and literally think outside the box! The third-year Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Performance) student will be one of 20 female artists participating in a virtual arts festival with The House That Dan Built, a not-for-profit, female-focused arts association.

Miriam will perform a poem and movement segment about a woman losing connection with herself in Whispers and Roars – The Festival in a Box. Due to the pandemic, there isn’t a live audience, so instead audience members will be shipped their entertainment within a box. The box will include items, artworks, activities, and links to performances that they can watch and experience from the comfort of their own home.

‘A lot of people have created original music, artworks and inspirational quotes, performances, stand-up comedy – they’re all going to be packaged in a box and sent out to people and it’s quite incredible what they’re doing. Some people have their artworks that are being made into puzzles so the audiences will receive it and then get to put it together themselves,’ Miriam explains. ‘When you go to the theatre, all the senses are heightened. You’re not just watching something, you’re hearing it from behind and the reverberation around the room. You can feel the leather or felt of the seat and smell a random lady’s perfume from three rows back and it’s everything all in one.’ The theatre experience is what inspired Dani, creator of The House That Dan Built, to devise a show that engaged the different senses of an audience. According to Miriam, every piece presented will involve a minimum of two senses. ‘While you’re listening to the poem that I wrote and watching the movements, you get a bit of playdough and you mould it into whatever you’re feeling or wanting to do while you’re watching it. At the end, you take a photo and send it via messenger to The House That Dan Built’s Instagram and it becomes a part of the art. I thought it was a really inclusive way to bring all those senses in it,’ she explains.

While the pandemic has ironically halted the two things actors can draw inspiration from to develop their craft – seeing live acting and exploring the world – Miriam believes it has also caused actors to think outside the box. ‘The creative arts and entertainment sector has given performers a lot of opportunities to explore virtual performing and screen performing. Not everyone can make it to certain performances but now that this has been created, it can be a hybrid – people can enjoy the show at home with a cup of tea,’ Miriam explains.

In their audition call-out, The House That Dan Built talk about celebrating women in the arts to ensure female voices are being heard, which is an issue very close to Miriam’s heart. ‘There are so many beautiful female artists out there that I know can feel intimidated and shy to put out their work in fear of judgement. There’s a warmth and a comfort in other females supporting female voices. The name “Whispers and Roars” to me means your art doesn’t have to be loud and forthcoming, it can just be a little whisper of what you want to say.’

If Miriam’s story has inspired you to consider a career in the creative arts sector, why not take a look at Excelsia College’s Creative and Performing Arts courses?

 

References

Litson, J. (2021). Sydney Theatre Company posts a deficit for 2020. Limelight Magazinehttps://limelightmagazine.com.au/news/sydney-theatre-company-posts-a-deficit-for-2020/

Wilkins, R. (2020). Who’s hit hardest by the Covid-19 economic shutdown? The University of Melbournehttps://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/who-s-hit-hardest-by-the-covid-19-economic-shutdown

Miriam Green | Excelsia College

It’s no surprise that Excelsia Bachelor of Music graduate, Ella Sterland, is at the top of her game. With a stellar music career that has spanned over five years, she has repeatedly smashed career goals. With an easy-going, warm and refreshingly down-to-earth approach to the industry, she proves that a fierce passion for her craft underlies everything she does.


Since graduating from the College, Ella has gone on to become an outstanding musician, including getting one of her songs played on one of Australia’s most popular alternative music stations Triple J.


Our Music Program Director Dr Christine Carroll recently sat down with Ella to talk how her professional life has gone from strength to strength, why she chose to study at Excelsia and why having a product to show is crucial to industry success.



C: Can you give me a quick snapshot of what your work in music has looked like to date?

E: Sure. Before studying it, I wasn’t really doing anything in music, I just liked it at school. And while I was studying, towards the end of my degree at Excelsia, I decided I wanted to do some of my own original music. So, I pulled some resources and recorded a six track EP at the end of 2017, just to really put myself in that world which I hadn’t really done before.

I then moved to Melbourne at the beginning of 2018 to study Audio Engineering, because I was doing all that for myself with all my own music, and I thought, well if I could get paid for this, that would be really fun. But I found that wasn’t really my passion. It was more about me studying it for my own music, and not to outsource that for other people. I found that I have more of a creative mindset, rather than the logistical mindset…that gets all the cogs working…I wanted to create the music, not just put it together.


C: It sounds like you are a self-produced singer songwriter type of musician.

E: Yeah! I find if you invest yourself in a lot of different facets of the music industry, it makes you better at a lot of different things for your own music. So, I’m very comfortable performing, and I’m very comfortable writing my own music and producing it. Because I’ve written for other people, and because I’ve performed for weddings, and I did a lot of cover gigs just before the pandemic happened. I was doing that two or three times a week. That was my main source of income.

So now, I’m able to bring those different skills into the music that I am making for myself…which is cool.


C: And right now?

E: Since the pandemic happened, I’ve been at home a lot more. I’ve been doing a lot more writing and figuring out how writing can be a source of income, but also a source of fulfilment, and just a way to keep doing music especially when I can’t be out there performing.


C: Great, well this next question might take you right back…Why did you choose to study music? Did you have a lightbulb moment, or did you just go…eh, why not?

E: I think for me I knew that I would enjoy music, and that the process of learning it and studying it would make me better at it. And even though I knew it would not be easy to get work, I knew it would be fun. I guess it’s just one of those things, you just decide on something, and then hopefully that will work, but it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t.


C: So, taking you back to when you first started in 2015, why did you choose to study at Excelsia?

E: I got a sense that the place was not only filled with people who were wanting to enjoy music, but who were also great at what they do. I think that was the environment that I wanted to be around…to be around people who had a sense of community in what they do, but who also excelled at what they do.


C: Are there any career defining moments to date you can describe?

E: I think a lot of musicians’ experience this…you enter this thing called ‘music’ and you don’t realise that there are so many branches of what that means. And I think the career defining moments have been the times when I’ve felt a sense of validation in what I’m doing, So, one of those moments was when I was invited to go to the APRA songwriters camp hub week in Box Hill last year, an event that is curated by a musician. In my case, it was curated by Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, and he’s someone who I look up. The band is amazing, and I’m a big fan of theirs.

Another was when I got one of my songs played on national radio [Triple J]. I think I was really proud to have a song on the radio that wasn’t facilitated by me paying anyone, or trying to direct anyone to what I was doing, I just put it out there, and someone connected with that. That was exciting. The song is called Gone from my new EP Overdue. https://open.spotify.com/album/6aqKm9WU269kCbcwSVMqEx?si=opAXFS6ITaKMS8IPTAsx5A)


C: If you could give any advice to a young musician, what would it be?

E: My advice would be that honing your craft is genuinely step one. I think a lot of people, they see the industry, and it’s overwhelming, and they think… ‘how am I ever supposed to make it as a musician?’ But you can’t make it if you have nothing to show people. I have been saved so many times by having this EP on Spotify – the first one I did in 2017. If I was doing a gig, and I had someone come up to me and say, ‘oh, I really like what you’re doing, can I find you on Spotify’ – I have something that I can show them…I can say, ‘yes! I do have something on Spotify, and you can go and listen to that.’