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Posted in Artists, Special Features    //    Post Date - March 6, 2018

Since releasing his first indie CD ‘241 Dead End’ in 1999, Melbourne based singer songwriter Dom Italiano has continued to perform and release his unique brand of quality, quirky and engaging songs. Dom has just released a new, crowd-funded EP titled It’s Not About What You Think It’s About and…

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Posted in Artists, Special Features    //    Post Date - March 2, 2018

Wikipedia tells us that Port Fairy is a coastal town in south-western Victoria, Australia. It lies on the Princes Highway in the Shire of Moyne, 28 kilometres (17 mi) west of Warrnambool and 290 kilometres (180 mi) west of Melbourne, at the point where the Moyne River enters the Southern Ocean. In…

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Posted in Blog, Special Features    //    Post Date - February 28, 2018

Yamaha Music Australia
has announced it’s second annual Great Start Grant – a nationwide initiative that will see one school awarded a $50,000 music grant, plus an exclusive performance from Dami Im, Australia’s X-Factor winner and most successful Eurovision entrant.

With the potential to help foster creativity and build social connections, Yamaha is searching for Australian schools in need of a helping hand to get their Music Performance Program off the ground. All they have to do is explain why they deserve it the most! last year Apollo bay College was the recipient of concert band instruments, a prize which has made a significant difference to that school’s music program and the kids who play in it. This year, the prize has a broader prize base in regard to the type of instruments offered.

The $50,000 Great Start Grant includes:
• $45,000 worth of Yamaha instruments — equivalent to 42 brand new Yamaha instruments/equipment
• 1 day of training from Peter Wardrobe —Yamaha’s Education Specialist
• A launch concert at the winning school from Dami Im
• PLUS: Consolation prizes worth $2,000 in value shared between another two schools

We asked Australia’s leading band expert and Yamaha’s Education Outreach Clinician Dr Rob McWilliams a few key questions about the Great Start Grant

What could the $50,000 grant do for the music department of a school?
The grant will enable a school who has all the other necessary elements to make best use of this giveaway (fully supportive administration, committed teaching staff, student interest, appropriate physical plant (classroom space, etc.), and all that is missing is the available funding to get the equipment.  This is where Yamaha steps in and completes the picture with the grant!

What comments are you hearing from students, parents and teachers at Apollo Bay P-12 College, which has already benefitted from this program?
The Yamaha Giveaway that Apollo Bay P-12 received was slightly different in that it was a grant of concert band instruments (this year’s grant is geared to a more “commercial” music type of program).  However, the impact is very similar in that it has given many students in the Apollo Bay area a special opportunity to learn an instrument and participate in a school concert band.  The whole school and broader community has been excited and grateful for what this grant has brought to them.

Apollo Bay P-12 trumpets

What are the benefits of being involved in a large school band?
The benefits of involvement in learning musical instruments are wide-ranging and significant.  More and more research points to the unique benefits of instrument learning as they relate to brain development.  It turns out the brain is uniquely active in many different places when we undertake this activity.  Playing an instrument also engages our emotional selves in a significant way – music is often considered the “language of emotions” and this is such an important part of growing up and understanding the human condition.  Furthermore, involvement teaches and develops many very important “life skills” such as empathy with others, teamwork, problem-solving, creativity, and so on.

Also many studies on academic achievement show that students who have been involved in music achieve, on average, at a higher level.  A primary school in England that was considered a “failing” school in 2010 on just about every objective measure (achievement, attendance, academic standards, etc.) responded by adding music into their overall curriculum wherever they could, as well as giving every child music lessons, etc.  The result was a complete turnaround such that that school now *exceeds* national averages on all of the objective measures!

What advice would you give to someone who would like to play music but is not sure about what instrument they should choose?
I would advise speaking to an “expert” in the field of music instrument teaching & learning (e.g. a music teacher) as well as doing some actual exploration or “trying out” on some possibilities.  Students can be more or less suited to particular instruments based on their personalities, musical aptitudes, physical attributes, etc.  What we do know is that there is a suitable instrument for everybody!

What advice would you give to a child who has started to learn an instrument but is struggling and believe they’re not making progress in their music playing journey?
Hang in there!  It is part of the learning process to experience learning “plateaus” at various times when you just don’t seem to be making progress, etc..  These are usually followed by more rapid improvement “spurts” so you just have to keep at it.  The benefits are well worth it!

How important is it to begin learning with a quality instrument?
This is really important as a poor quality instrument will hamper progress and also tend to suffer breakdown, lack of durability, etc.  If you invest in a good quality instrument at the start and take appropriate care of it, it is not unusual to get close to the price you paid if you do need to sell, upgrade, etc.  This means it’s a “no brainer” to make a wise choice of an appropriate, decent quality instrument throughout your instrument learning journey.  Once again, seek expert advice and be *very* wary of instruments sold online (unless you can verify that they are appropriate quality/condition) or in stores where their main business is non-music items – e.g. groceries, etc.

There are many reasons why someone would join a school music program … the social aspect, learning for fun, learning with a career in music as the goal … What realistic goals should students set themselves to begin with?
Just set out to do your best, enjoy yourself, and learn at your optimum pace.  The most important key to practice is *regularity* – a little bit often is always better than larger chunks too spread out.  Most people who learn instruments will not make a living as performing musicians, but they can have a lifelong participation and enjoyment of it and get all the same benefits as anyone else.

What’s the main criteria for the school which will be chosen for the major prize? What factors do you take into consideration?
Applications that demonstrate that the other key components (supportive administration, excellent teaching staff, physical plant, student interest, etc.) will be considered more favourably.  Submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by a panel of experts, including outside of Yamaha, to choose the winning school.  There are also two “consolation” prizes for the next closest candidates.

Victorian schools wishing to apply must complete the online application by March 16th. For full details please visit

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Posted in Artists, Special Features    //    Post Date - September 28, 2017

There’s no joy in a tune if it’s out of tune. Even the world’s finest musicians can sound cringe-worthy if their A’s are flat or their C’s aren’t sharp. Just because you’ve tuned your guitar before you walked on stage, doesn’t guarantee it’s going to stay that way for the…

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Posted in Accessories, Artists, Gear, Special Features    //    Post Date - September 28, 2017

In part one of our guitar tuning feature, we spoke to a number of local players about the tuners they use and why. In part two we now look at some of the tuning options currently available on the market. TC Electronic Distributed in Australia by Amber Technology PolyTune is…

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Posted in Artists, Special Features    //    Post Date - September 11, 2017

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips headed down to Templestowe College last week to witness the state final of ROCKFEST 2017 and was mighty impressed with the level of talent. Here’s the report. RockFest is the brainchild of Luc Travers, Education Manager at Cranbourne Music. It’s a competition run through Victorian schools…

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Posted in Special Features    //    Post Date - July 14, 2017

Ten years ago, during the winter of 2007 we celebrated the 50th printed issue of the national quarterly Australian Musician magazine with a very special feature; the 50 Most Significant Moments in Australian Pop/Rock history. Holed up in a pub and armed with nothing but a blackboard and two boxes…

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Posted in Articles, Special Features    //    Post Date - November 13, 2016

It was not a typical week in the life of expat Aussie guitarist, songwriter Gwyn Ashton but a mighty fine one all the same. Gwyn suddenly found himself anointed as ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor’s guitar tech for the night at a Jack Bruce tribute gig in London which featured Ginger…

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The Understanding of Music Seminar

Posted in Artists, Special Features    //    Post Date - November 6, 2016

The Understanding of Music Seminar By Rob Walker (CEO Australian Music Association, bass player for Jack Howard and The Ambassadors of Love, Crakajak) It was with a great deal of interest that I first read about the Understanding of Music Seminar. Learn to Read and Play Music in Three days…

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Posted in Blog, Special Features    //    Post Date - May 25, 2016


Richard Berkman CA is Managing Director of Big Music in Crows Nest. Richard offers some great tax saving tips for musicians.

Tax time is stressful for those working in the music industry. Most of us have multiple income sources including teaching, performing and other full-time or part-time work. Gathering tax information is complicated but ignoring it means you miss opportunities to save big bucks. Here are some top tips to save at tax time*:

Tip #1:  $20,000 instant asset write-off for small business
The biggest opportunity is the current instant tax write-off for small business assets costing up to $20,000.  If you have an ABN and report your income from musical activities for tax – as opposed to music as a hobby – you may be able to purchase gear worth up to $20,000 (each item) before 30 June and get an immediate tax deduction for it this year.

If you’re a performing artist, that could include any gear you need to perform – instruments, amps, effects, PA, lighting and back line.

If you’re a music teacher, maybe it’s time to upgrade your computer or instruments you use to teach.

Remember that what you can legitimately claim depends on what you do and from where you earn income – something to discuss with a tax agent. Which brings us to Tip #2.

Tip #2:  Get a good Tax Agent
An experienced Tax Agent who really understands musicians will help you claim entitlements. A good one will more than cover their cost with the extra tax refund they secure. And their fee is also tax deductible!

Your tax agent will guide you through work-related expenses you can claim – which for a Performing Musician might include:

  • Car expenses
  • Travel expenses
  • Mobile phone bills
  • Clothing/Uniforms
  • Agent fees
  • Insurance
  • Accessories – strings, sticks, books etc
  • Equipment maintenance – set ups, repairs, restrings, etc
  • Home Office – internet, computers and printers, rent, phone bills, electricity
  • Professional library (sheet music, references, dictionaries)
  • Seminars, conferences and Training Courses
  • Technical or Professional Publications
  • Theatre and film tickets
  • Tools and equipment


Tip #3: Don’t procrastinate. Do it now!
A little planning and action before 30 June, then lodging your tax return in July could mean a big fat tax refund a few weeks later. Then you can buy more cool gear. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

*Advice contained in this article is intended for general information purposes and may not apply in all circumstances. Please seek independent advice from a tax professional for your specific situation.

About the author: Richard Berkman CA is Managing Director of Big Music in Crows Nest, Australia’s leading independent musical instrument retail store and music school.

For more info visit and





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