Hi, I’m Melissa Forbes and I’m the Lecturer in Contemporary Singing here at USQ. Not only do I take care of the singing studio but I teach popular music history and popular song writing courses as well as coordinate the Music Practice courses here at USQ.
I’ve been here since 2009 and prior to that I was a professional musician for about 5 years, practising, performing, recording my own stuff.
So, as a lecturer I think it’s really important, particularly in an area of practice like music, to be a doer as well as a teacher so I find myself constantly wanting to better myself in terms of my own professional development. I do lots of performing myself in concert settings and I also am researching at the moment, I’m doing a PhD in contemporary singing, so I’m really trying to keep abreast of all the latest developments in the contemporary singing field.
What really excites me about the musical tastes of the students is that they are drawn more and more towards acoustic music. I actually think youtube has a lot to do with this and that there are some incredible artists who are doing acoustic covers and songs, like the bigger name artists and these covers are often becoming more popular than the original song.
Our foundation music practice courses are partly informed by this trend and that our students learn the basic skills of playing music through small ensemble work often coming up with their own versions of arrangements of songs as well as working on their original material.
I’m really passionate about our students becoming functional musicians; musicians who are creative, collaborative, innovative and versatile. Musicians who aren’t wedded to the dots on the page but can make music in almost any situation be it in a classroom in front kids, or a small group jamming or a gig where they are required to read professional charts.
I think this is a really exciting time for music in the tertiary sector. We’re no longer shackled by the past and what we are teaching is heavily informed and driven by the students and what they need to succeed in the real world.
My advice to students is that if you are interested in studying music at university you really need to be passionate about music. Are you the kind of person who listens to music all the time, who is constantly analysing music, who can’t get enough of it? If that’s the type of person you are and you are interested in learning about how to be a functional musician, then you’re the type of student that we’re after.