Why Mount Gambier?
From the time I first considered creating a music academy it was always going to be in a regional city. To learn a new language, everybody knows the best way is to move to that country, to immerse yourself in the language. If you are going to study jazz, then I feel it’s best to immerse yourself in the course.
In a big city, there are too many distractions, from friends that are not attending the course, to family and home life – not to mention the overwhelming number of ‘other’ things vying for your time.
If you move away from home, particularly to a place where almost everyone else doing the course is also ‘away’ then there is an immediate momentum towards forming a ‘community’. It’s kind of like when you go to band camp – everybody there is into the music and when you’re not actually in class, you’re still with your colleagues who are passionate about jazz. Students at the JM Academy will benefit from living in close proximity to each other and when class ends for the day, instead of all going your separate ways, they can hang out together and maintain the ‘jazz’ atmosphere. This avoids that syndrome I felt myself when studying in a capital city – you finish class for the day and step outside into a world that has nothing to do with what you’re studying. So you have to get back into it each day when you walk inside the institution.
Of course, what I’m talking about is very intense – but that’s the whole point. It only lasts for a semester at a time, then you get a big break and can go and see friends, family etc. But the momentum you create in that time will really build and the learning that can take place will be enhanced.
So that’s why not in a big city – why in Mount Gambier?
Because it has such a long history as a place that supports jazz, 30 years of Generations in Jazz – one of the largest event of it’s kind in the world. The people of the town, the Council, local businesses, are all supportive of this happening and will do whatever they can to look after students attending the Academy. With that kind of goodwill, I’d be mad to go anywhere else…and besides... I like the place :-)