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Lecturer story: Tenille’s journey from music lover to music lecturer


For lecturer Tenille Elkins, it all started with a piano. When her mother's family moved from Sri Lanka to Australia, they brought with them a beautiful mahogany piano. From there, Tenille not only developed a love for the instrument, but for music in general. She spent her childhood and teenage years refining her piano, guitar, singing and even composing skills.

"I started writing songs at a very young age. At last count, I believe I was at 840 songs!" she shares. "When you nurture your passion, it grows. In my case, it snowballed."

Turning her musical passion into a career

Eventually, Tenille turned her love of music into a successful career writing, performing and working with APRA AMCOS, a music rights management organisation. Through her work, she has made many contributions to the Australian music industry.

Her achievements haven't gone unrecognised. In fact, Tenille has been nominated for a Golden West Australian Music Industry (WAMi) Award three times!

Roughly 13 years ago, Tenille was offered the chance to change career paths. An industry colleague asked her if she was interested in teaching copyright and business units. Now, she's a part time music lecturer at North Metropolitan TAFE Leederville campus.

"I started doing a few classes and here I am 13 years later," she recalls.

Leederville campus

Rich musical opportunities for students

Tenille has seen firsthand how much TAFE International Western Australia has to offer music students. With a wide range of course options, students have the choice to specialise in one of three streams: music business, performance or sound production.

"All three streams work together and put on shows together in various venues," explains Tenille. "So, they not only learn their specific craft, but they get an insight into every aspect of the industry. They also gain a solid group of peers."

She adds that there's no better place to take your new mates than Toasty Thursday. This weekly event is unique to Leederville campus and gives music students the chance to showcase their musical skills. Every Thursday, you can head to Vinyl Café between 4 pm and 6 pm and see three great acts.

In addition to amazing live music experiences, Leederville campus offers students plenty of production experience as well.

"Our performance students walk away with up to an album's worth of material recorded by the sound production students."

Living at the heart of a vibrant music scene

According to Tenille, students who choose Leederville campus are "right in the thick of things." With a wide range of cafés, shops, bars, restaurants and music venues, students can easily immerse themselves into Australian music culture.

"They can finish their studies during the day and head off most nights of the week to see what they've learned in the classroom play out in live music venues," she says.

Enjoying musical diversity from around the world

Tenille feels strongly that international students are an important part of the student body, especially in music courses.

"The diversity they bring in is invaluable," she shares. "We've had students from all over the world: South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, France, Italy, everywhere! They bring their unique musical background and culture, which is so wonderful and welcome."

Not only is it fascinating for her to hear about their experiences, she explains, but it's also great for the local students. "Many students based in Australia would love to tour to many of these countries. So, they gain invaluable insights and important bonds for years to come."

Seizing your opportunities as an international student

According to Tenille, that willingness to learn from other cultures is key to having a positive study abroad experience. That's why she encourages international students to experience Australian culture as much as possible.

Whether it's at a small show, a local event or even a friend's party, she says to "go to as many music venues as possible and see as much live performance as you possibly can."

While it may be daunting at first, Tenille assures international students that the payoff is well worth it. "You can learn so much by diving in, starting small and being open to trying new things."

To develop strong links with industry to succeed in the future employment market, choose TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) for globally recognised courses delivered by dedicated lecturers with industry experience and connections. Check out the wide range of courses that TIWA has to offer and detailed information on the application process. You can apply to study with TIWA by completing an online application.

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