The Moreton Bay Colleges receive expert Advice from a professional Rock Musician : Alyson Locke

29 November 2016


National guitar guru Alyson Locke is Australia’s lead Rockschool examiner. Also a teacher, she encourages all of her students to take up the syllabus. She believes it addresses all of the practical elements involved in mastering an instrument and that it offers the kind of contemporary learning experience that best serves aspiring rock musicians.

In the years that she has been examining, Alyson has noticed that female students generally tend to favour emotive and lyrical styles of music, while males often push themselves technically to improve the wow-factor in their performance. She strongly believes Rockschool is an excellent platform for both females and males to realise their full potential as rock instrumentalists.

Alyson admits that there have been times when sales staff at music stores had assumed she was a rookie and tried to sell her a beginner-level guitar. She has walked into a classroom and been doubted by her students who did not expect her to be capable of sweep picking or knowing how to play every album by Metallica!

She has confidence that the syllabus will encourage and shape a music industry where females and males begin to have equal footing. Alyson would particularly like to see more female drum, bass and piano students participate in Rockschool and believes that the structure of the syllabus gives all students the opportunity to perform, learn, practice, experiment and participate in a creative way.

In terms of balancing numbers of elite female and male role models in the music industry, Alyson’s mantra is that ‘seeing is believing’. The more females taking part in contemporary music activities, the better the gender balance within the rock industry will become.

Parris Smith is a Rockschool Vocals student from Queensland. She prepared for her October exam while playing in a band called Demolish Division and hopes that she can one day follow the footsteps of her female rock idols, Pink, Blondie and Kate Bush.

Moreton Bay College and Moreton Bay Boys’ College combined Rock Band Demolish Division

“Originally, I wasn’t aware of the prejudice against women in the rock industry.” Says Parris.

“The Rock music scene is generally quite male dominated and the only way to balance this out is for female artists to see other female artists engaged in the industry across all levels. I’m hoping that one day soon the focus is on their ability, not their looks.”

Rockschool has taught her that if you want to be taken seriously in the industry you need to equip yourself with both practical skills on your instrument and theoretical music knowledge.

“Rockschool has improved my confidence and music knowledge; I have learnt many things about my voice. My journey so far has taught me many things, not only about myself but also about the industry and I look forward to seeing where my Rockschool education will take me.”

Rockschool is as rigorous and detailed as any traditional AMEB syllabus. One unique feature of the curriculum is that students are taught how to correctly set their equipment up from the beginning, helping to guide them through some of the technical aspects of contemporary performance. These practical considerations distinguish the syllabus from other learning opportunities available to Australian musicians and helps to support both teachers and students in overcoming the obstacles to achieving real musical goals.

With repertoire in the syllabus from musicians such as Adele, Ed Sheeran, The Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift, and Béyonce, the Rockschool syllabus offers students choice, familiarity and reliability. Providing exam content that is relatable increases students’ ability to retain information and practice effectively – two crucial factors that makes the preparation and examination experience enjoyable and rewarding. While the notion of being objectively assessed on rock and pop performance styles might seem antithetical (can you imagine Jimi Hendrix or Cyndi Lauper sitting a music exam?), setting a goal such as a Rockschool examination can help to encourage students to get the best results out of their practice time.

Finally, some advice from Alyson Locke to Rockschool students, female and male is “push yourself beyond your comfort zone and strive to excel”. She encourages students to take the time to develop their sound imagination as well as learning intricate riffs, patterns and melodies. Alyson suggests that as music listeners we must remain open minded and supportive of individual musical voices and give every musician the chance to have their message heard.

Kindly shared by the AMEB website

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