Friends’ opinions can weigh heavily on deciding where to study, just ask Willem New. Hearing about a friend’s positive experience studying a Bachelor of Music at Wesley Institute (now Excelsia College) after making a career change from information technology was the catalyst Willem needed when he decided to enrol in the same course, also making the shift from IT and customer service-based roles. Returning to study 10 years after leaving school is no easy transition, however Willem found Excelsia College helpful for getting back into the mindset of learning new things. ‘The College pushed me in my musical learning and helped me become a better musician through constant opportunities to perform. It was an environment that was vibrant, engaging and growth oriented. I found a community of amazing artists who were all extremely willing to help each other grow and learn. That hasn’t changed – I’m still in touch with many of my peers from my time as a Bachelor of Music student,’ explains Willem.
After graduating from Excelsia College with a Bachelor of Music in 2012, Willem went on to complete his Graduate Diploma in Education in 2015. Now he works as a music teacher at Greenacre Baptist Christian Community School (GBCCS), a small independent school in south-west Sydney. As the sole music teacher, Willem hopes to inspire students to enjoy music and learning in general from a range of subjects. ‘At GBCCS I help to produce musical productions, help students to smash out amazing performances and journey with them on an exploration of who they are and who they can become,’ he says.
One of Willem’s favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 41:10 which says, ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Willem explains, ‘There’s a lot of fear everywhere these days and in the creative and performing arts department at my school, something we focus on is the idea that we can “create without fear”. Kids are fearful of failing, fearful of being ridiculed, fearful of looking like a goose in front of their peers, fearful of someone else being better than them. God has made us to be creative beings and He is always with us, so we have nothing to fear when we create but everything to gain. Any failures are an opportunity to learn and do it better next time; anyone who’s better than us is someone to be inspired by, not defeated by; any naysayers are an opportunity to strengthen resolve and overcome challenge,’ Willem explains.
As for his highlights during his time at Excelsia College, Willem’s end-of-degree recital was a definite highlight. ‘Performing incredible pieces with a massive band of fellow students who really pushed me to play my best was absolutely wonderful. Beyond that, memories of rehearsing choir parts for performance at the Sydney Opera House, learning how to really compose new music and jamming out tunes at the drop of a hat will always stay with me,’ he says.