Excelsia graduate a finalist in local business award

With intelligence, thoughtfulness and a strong sense of self, Monique Warokka’s distinct creativity and drive has helped her carve out her own identify in the music industry.

Since graduating from Excelsia with a Bachelor of Music, Monique set up her own business Roar Music. The talented entrepreneur was recently chosen as a finalist for a Performing Arts Local Business Award competition in the Northern Beaches. A band director and music educator, Monique’s love for God is so strong, she doesn’t mind what unprecedented challenges life throws at her. Most importantly, Monique believes everyone has something worth saying and believing in.

We sat down with Monique to talk about her experience of studying a Bachelor of Music at Excelsia, why her most defining moments have been the seemingly small ones, and her key piece of advice for those wishing to pursue a career in music.

Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Music?

I dreamed of studying a Bachelor of Music as I planned my high school subjects. Combined with difficult personal/family circumstances, I doubted my ability could match what was required for the ‘streamlined’ path to tertiary music education. However, God showed me a way through. I began studying music as an Advanced Diploma of Christian Ministry (Songwriting) which I then used to transfer to the Bachelor of Music at Excelsia College in 2015.

What was your experience being a Bachelor of Music student at Excelsia?

It was a combination of joy, personal fulfillment, hard work and days I wanted to give up because I was challenged way beyond my ability in some disciplines. I loved the content of each lesson. I was inspired by passionate teachers. Some of the best days of my life were spent in those lectures and tutorials. Juggling other areas in life made studying more challenging, but also more rewarding.

After graduating, how did your career path evolve?

My career path started before I commenced studying but evolved to being qualified to conduct bands in schools after I completed my studies. This opened up a whole new world to me professionally. Now I conduct five bands across two schools and run my music business in one school which employs six other tutors. We are now growing to offer music education to our broader Northern Beaches community, specialising in the tuition of many instruments and disciplines.

You were recently chosen as a finalist for a Performing Arts Local Business Award competition in the Northern Beaches. How does it feel to be selected for such a prestigious award?

Receiving the call that I was a finalist in this year’s Performing Arts category was just the encouragement I needed to keep going through a challenging time. The COVID restrictions in schools placed an unprecedented strain on our music programme. It filled me with so much hope knowing the community believed in our service when things were so uncertain. Receiving this nomination felt like God was saying, ‘keep going, I believe in you!’

Can you give us a bit of background on Roar Music and the concept behind your business?

I started as a sole trader, tutoring piano and songwriting in other music schools in 2010. From there, I built my student base by word of mouth until I had enough students to “go out” on my own. The Holy Spirit gave me the name, Roar Music and I registered it. The concept behind Roar Music is that we would not only help our students discover their unique voice, but Roar in their chosen discipline, making their dreams become a reality.

You’ve had such an incredible career already, but can you talk us through some of the key defining moments since launching Roar Music?

The most defining moments have been the seemingly smallest ones. Big doors swing on little hinges. I had one student who just seemed to cop the brunt of my silly timetabling mistakes. It was always this one mum I was apologising to. She was so gracious and since, our relationship has grown beautifully. She put my name forward for the new extra-curricular music contract at the school I now run my business through. I was hired! This one hinge opened up the door to a 200% sales increase in one year.

If you could give other artists advice about getting started in their career, what would you say?

God wants you to achieve your dreams. He will help you and make a way. Believe in yourself and how much he digs you. You have something worth saying and delivering. Don’t give up because of mistakes, big or small. Also, upskill so you can make money from multiple income streams (all within your field). With the people that you see rock in an area you want to improve in, hire them to teach you!