For young local musicians like Mary-Lou Hylands, a virtual song-writing program is providing an important creative and social outlet during the coronavirus pandemic.
Surf Coast Shire Council’s youth team has moved music, arts and environment programs online during COVID-19 so young people can still access them. A music program initiative is the FReeZA Isolation Album, which sees young people take part in workshops with singer Rach Brennan from local five-piece indie rock/folk band – Rach Brennan & The Pines.
Lorne P-12 College student Mary-Lou said the initial workshops – conducted virtually via Zoom – had been a valuable learning experience.
“We do activities that involve trying to write songs, and improving on how we can write songs,” the 15-year-old said. “The people we work with are experienced songwriters so we’re free to ask questions whenever we like, which can be very helpful.
“I’ve grown up around music and I play in a couple school bands, as well as some outside of school such as Sweethearts in Geelong. I’m excited to be part of this Surf Coast project, to be able to write songs with other people and to make something with them.”
When state government restrictions allow, the group will record its original songs in a studio to create an album which will be distributed at a live performance.
Torquay’s Ms Brennan, who is also a Surf Coast Secondary College music teacher, said she had been inspired working with the young people
“It’s definitely different on Zoom – you can’t just hand over the guitar and jam it out. I’m learning a lot about remote learning every time we do it but everyone is really patient,” she said. “We have been working on lyrics and will be diving into chords, production, recording and more industry-based topics over the next few weeks.
“I am hoping that on top of the CD, they can explore some new ways to approach song-writing but most importantly further develop confidence in themselves as artists and trust their artistic instincts. Writing music has been such an important part of my life, both professionally and personally. I hope that my passion translates and that writing music can enrich their lives as it has mine.”
Council’s youth team is regularly in contact with local secondary schools during COVID-19 and is still available to consult with parents and carers about referral pathways for specialist support and treatment for wellbeing issues.
Councillor Martin Duke said the youth team was working to connect isolated young people with their friends virtually.
“We know there are young people in our community that COVID-19 is having a negative impact on. We also know that COVID-19 is compounding some people’s existing troubles,” Cr Duke said.
“We encourage parents and carers to start a conversation with their kids and seek support early if needed. If you have any concerns, start with a phone call to Kids Help Line or an online web chat to Headspace.”
For regular updates on Council’s youth team’s programs and services go to www.facebook.com/SurfCoastYouth.