Interview with QUT Music Society – The ScratchThat Scoop

Ailie McLeod

What is QMuSo?

Thomas Schefe (2023 QMuSo Treasurer): The QUT Music Society is a student society made up of music makers and lovers. A lot of students go through high school, play an instrument and then, when they get to uni, tend to stop playing their instrument because there’s always a stigma. We try to encourage people by making our club as open and accessible as possible. There’s no audition process to get in.

Abbie Hopkinson (2023 QMuSo President): It’s having a place that’s more affordable, that they can still keep playing their instrument rather than giving it up. Lots of other community type bands have hundreds of dollars in membership fees a year which is not attainable for students.

Fredie Power (2023 Concert Band Secretary): We consist of an Orchestra, Concert Band, String Theory, which is a string orchestra, and Blackbirds, the jazz band. Orchestra is Concert Band and String Theory mixed up, so you just have to be a member of one of them then you’re automatically in it.

Juliette Bodell (2023 President of String Theory): I like to think of QMuSo as filling a bit of a niche, beyond having social events like any other club, I think that the ensembles offer for people who play music as a hobby, to play with other people. It’s low stress, low stakes, but there’s still opportunities to show an audience what we’ve been working on together.


What is your role?

Abbie: The QMuSo execs oversee the whole club and then each of our ensembles have their own mini exec teams as well. Those are a bit less pressure and work because they only have to focus on their one ensemble. All of them have a president, treasurer, and secretary. QMuSo, we also have a marketing coordinator, event coordinators, and a jam session coordinator. I am the QMuSo President, mainly overseeing the club. A large part of my role has been organising performances and coordinating with QUT people.

Thomas S: I am the QMuSo Treasurer, in charge of the club finances, securing funding from QUT and the Student Guild and making sure we have enough money to pay our conductors.

Juliette: I am the String Theory President for this year. I am more of a people manager. I tell people what events are coming up and see who’s available.

Freddie: I’m the secretary in Concert Band. My role is posting on Instagram and Facebook rehearsals and reminders to events. It only takes up about an hour or two a week. I’m in Concert Band and Orchestra, and Tom [Avery] is in Blackbirds, Orchestra, and Concert Band.

Andrew Oxford (2023 Member of QMuSo): I’m in Concert Band and Orchestra. I play the trumpet. We don’t assign first trumpet, second trumpet. It is really flexible, which I find is great. I haven’t had this before, where we swap parts each piece that we play. Everyone gets a chance to stand out.


What do you like about the club?

Thomas S: Joining the club is a great way to meet like-minded people. There are other people at uni that haven’t quite found groups of people like that. For me it was really good, especially not being from Brisbane. That’s been one of the more rewarding parts, seeing other people grow and enjoy the environment the same way that I did.

Abbie: My first year of uni, I did not have a particularly great time. Joining QMuSo, in my second year, gave me something to look forward to every week that wasn’t uni and to meet friends. So, forming those connections has been really good. I really enjoy being able to guide what we’re doing based on what people want.

Freddie: My favourite part is it gives me something to do and people to hang out with. After school, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but then I found out that QUT had a Concert Band and so I joined it, and it went really well to the point where I wanted to stay with it.

Thomas Avery (2023 Member of QMuSo): I am studying music and I do play it for my degree, but realistically I’m not going to play my instrument outside of this too much. So it’s a good place to play and I like playing my instrument.

Andrew: [The club] lets me be able to play an instrument I haven’t played since high school again, and I made so many friends here. I like the rehearsal times, it’s convenient on a Sunday afternoon. I appreciate that I pay for being a part of the Concert Band, but I don’t have to pay extra for the Orchestra, that’s included.


What are the requirements to be a part of the club?

Thomas A: You don’t have to be a uni student, nor a QUT student.

Freddie: You do have to be a QUT enrolled student to be an executive though. You can be in as many ensembles as you want, although that does affect how you get your membership.

Juliette: It was approximately $25 if you’re a QUT student and then $35 if you’re a non-QUT student for the ensembles. A lot of people play in the Concert Band and the Jazz band, the cost for a double ensemble membership is slightly more. You don’t have to be in the ensemble to be a member of the club, there are plenty of social events that you can go to, that don’t involve learning all the music and coming every week. If you want a social membership, it’s $10.

Freddie: For the events, you have to be eighteen plus.

Thomas S: We vary the skill level of the songs. Some will be easier so we can pick it up fairly quickly, others will be a bit more difficult that we work on throughout the semester.

Freddie: Some pieces will be tough, but you can practise, and it is doable.

Thomas A: There’s no level of expertise that you need to be. Some of us have picked up variations of our instruments. Our flute player has a piccolo and one of the trumpet players has a flugelhorn. They’re different to their original instruments, where there is some learning required.


What are the events and opportunities available?

Thomas S: There’s the opportunity of coming every week to be tutored by people who know what they’re talking about. The Concert Band conductor is a music teacher, and the Jazz Band conductor is a professional jazz musician.

Juliette: We have performance opportunities, end of semester concerts, whether they be public or private. Last semester we performed at Queen Street which meant that we got to perform to anybody who wanted to come and sit down.

Freddie: We’ve got other performance opportunities like the QUT Classic, which was the fun run, and we did Vena Cava’s Freshblood Festival last year.

Juliette: For String Theory, if you are passionate about playing and have a high level of skill, there is the opportunity to join our String Quartet which is first violin, second violin, a viola player, and a cellist. They do gigs, they get hired for uni balls.

Thomas S: Our Jazz Band has done performances at City Hall, Fortitude Music Hall, and the Tivoli. Let’s us all live our dream of being professional musicians without being broke.

Abbie: It’s very cool for the students to go into those venues and be on the stage. Especially because the majority of us don’t study music, so we wouldn’t get those opportunities. When we’re in here, [the rehearsal room], we think we sound pretty good, but it’s nice to get to share that, get feedback, and know that other people also enjoy what we’re doing.

Thomas S: Maybe five people study music. There was a running joke last year in the jazz band where the whole trumpet line was engineers.

Abbie: We’ve done a lot of different events throughout the year: karaoke nights, games nights, a lawn bowls event which was very well received.

Andrew: We had a trivia night where we competed against UQ. We also hold jam sessions at the Grove Bar. Everyone can just bring whatever instrument they’d like and jam out for a couple hours, improvising. The society had reduced prices for tickets, and they organised a tour of QPAC behind the scenes.


What is the commitment to the club?

Freddie: Try and turn up to the rehearsals and performances.

Juliette: There is a rehearsal almost every Sunday for the ensembles. It’s a two-hour rehearsal for all of them. There is that commitment but it’s very flexible. If you have an assignment on, if you have a family event, it’s not mandatory that you attend every single week. Nobody’s going to stress out if you say, “I can’t play at the end of semester performance”.

Thomas A: Know your music. It’s not necessarily a requirement to be good but you should at least put an effort into the learning the music.

Juliette: You have to practise if you want to be able to keep up at times, but the level that you have to be at to keep up isn’t necessarily high stress.

Freddie: It would be really hard if you joined a week or two before the end of semester performance.  You can join anytime but it’s ideal to start at the beginning.


Do you have any advice for people who want to join QMuSo?

Freddie: Come to the open rehearsal, bring an instrument, and try out a few pieces. We do an icebreaker beforehand to get to know each other. We also have a welcome party at the start of every semester.

Andrew: In first semester, I was hesitant to join because I thought I’d be too busy, but I am very grateful that I joined now.

Abbie: It’s always that new thing, you don’t know what it’s going to be like. Coming to the first rehearsal, everyone’s in the same boat, no one knows each other, but people are open to chatting.

Thomas S: We’re not going to say, “you can’t be here, you’re not good enough”.

Thomas A: There’s no pressure to join if you can’t because of commitments or it doesn’t suit you, even if you come to the welcome party and to the open rehearsals.

Juliette: For String Theory, I run the social accounts so I will continue for roughly three weeks posting the times for anybody to come along. If you can’t make it to the open rehearsal, you can make it to the week one or two rehearsal, that’s also completely fine.

Andrew: You can come up to three weeks before you have to pay to be in the ensemble.

Juliette: Don’t hesitate to contact us on social media. We’ve got an email account and if you have any questions or want to check out a rehearsal, that is one way of getting more information.

Thomas A: If you play trombone, join. We have one. It’s me, myself, and I.


Do you have any advice for people who want to be an executive?

Abbie: Definitely do it. There are extra connections you make as an exec and extra skills, organisation, and time management you pick up that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you were a member of the club. It’s one of the best things that I have done.

Thomas S: Sometimes it can be out of your comfort zone, but it can provide you with great real-world skills such as, applying for grants, looking at ways to diversify what we do as a club, and finding different activities that our members can engage with. We’ve all learnt more about problem solving skills and crisis management.


What are the details for this end of semester performance?

Abbie: It is on the Thursday the 2nd of November at 6:30pm, at the Ron Hurley Theatre. There’s a Facebook event and tickets are available now.

Thomas S: Tickets are $10.

Abbie: You’ll get to see four ensembles. There’s a wide variety of music there. There is usually about twenty-five minutes per ensemble. It depends on how long the pieces are, but usually five-ish pieces.

Juliette: Our regular audience are friends and family, but anybody can buy a ticket and come along.

Freddie Power (@fredererpower), Thomas Avery (@buff_thom), Abbie Hopkinson (@abbie.hopkinson), Thomas Schefe (@thomasschefe)

Interviewer: Ailie McLeod is a transdisciplinary performer, an emerging writer, dancer and stage manager. She is currently in her third year studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) at QUT. Last year Ailie’s play Manage, was her playwriting debut. Her performance credits include being an ensemble member in IMRSE’s CAKE, Hairspray the Arena Spectacular, and Queensland Contemporary Youth Ballet. Other credits include stage managing for 2am: The Extended Cut, Pengelly Productions and Brisbane Performing Arts Challenge. Upcoming projects for Ailie include assistant directing Sugar Mountain which will be a part of Vena Cava’s 2023 Freshblood Festival. 

Editors: Rory Hawkins and Suzy Darlington