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Melbourne’s Best Busker returns to Macquarie

Page last published: 01 Oct 2013

Australian Singer/songwriter Jenny Biddle returns to Macquarie as MMCCS' Artist in ResidenceAustralian songsmith Jenny Biddle has travelled around the country and has played countless gigs, captivating audiences wherever she went. Today she faces a different yet familiar audience not only to play music but also to talk about it.

Jenny, a Macquarie University graduate, has returned to the university to mentor current music students. As Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies' Artist in Residence for 2013, she will  run workshops, lectures and individual mentoring sessions on songwriting and independent artist development for students.

Artist in Residence

The Australasian Performing Right Association Limited (APRA) Artist in Residence Program at Macquarie University started in 2011, when Head of Department, Associate Professor Mark Evans and Professor John Potts teamed up with APRA via their APRA Music Grants Scheme. It provides a focus on the contemporary song and songwriting processes from the singer-songwriter perspective.

According to Evans, the program benefits the students as it provides opportunities for individual mentoring.

"Students are able to showcase their own material and receive advice on how to record, promote and musically arrange their songs. This is particularly relevant for vocal, guitar and production students. The artist connects with students through a shared interest in musical creativity and expressive techniques. It is through such shared communication that personal expression, the essence of the singer-songwriter, is highlighted," says Evans.

He adds, "During the residency, the artist is also able to showcase his or her own songs and to have these recorded. As the program enables the artist to share songwriting experiences and processes, the artist in residence connects with students over a period of time and in various contexts.  The program therefore facilitates networking opportunities for both students and the artist."

For Jenny, returning to Macquarie to be a mentor feels "bizarre."

She says, "A lot has changed in the university since I graduated so everything looks new to me. It feels weird - to attend a class as a 'teacher' and not a student anymore - but I'm very happy to be able to spend time with the students and exchange ideas with them. We learn from each other."

"I think the Artist in Residence project is a great idea because it's a good experience for the students. When I was studying, I didn't have the opportunity to talk to someone about music as a career. It's important for students to gain practical knowledge about the industry."

Keeping it real

Jenny Biddle during her lecture at Macquarie's Y3A Drama TheatreIn one of her lectures about the singer/songwriter genre, Jenny encourages students to express themselves and stay true to their music.

"Keep it real. You don't have to be the best all the time, but always say what you truly feel and what's important to you."

Jenny writes songs to tell the story of her life and of the people and the world around her. She independently produced her albums, with the help of friends and supportive fans. Her 3rd album, Hero in Me, was funded by her fans and was produced by Thirsty Merc's former guitarist, and legendary producer, Sean Carey. Jenny has been awarded as Melbourne's Best Busker 2010-2012 and has received numerous awards from various music festivals and competitions around the country.

Music at Macquarie

Music has always been Jenny's passion. At age 4, she learned to play ukulele and piano. At 9, she fell in love with the guitar. At Macquarie, she studied Bachelor of Arts which allowed her to take on music units including guitar, sound mixing, and production.

"I chose to study at Macquarie because I liked the course and the campus. I learned a lot of technical and practical stuff which proved to be very useful now that I'm recording and producing my own material. I also did a gig or two a week in the university bar throughout my uni days, which I enjoyed a lot," Jenny said.

Making music

After graduation, Jenny went on to live her lifelong dream – to play beautiful music. Being an independent singer/songwriter has its challenges but, according to Jenny, it is "doable."

"A lot of people think that making music a full-time career is not possible...but it is doable so I advise students to just go for it. Of course it will not be perfect and not everyone will like their music all the time, but they just have to work hard. Do not be afraid to try different things. Be it teaching music, singing at weddings, or busking, it doesn't matter as long as they're doing what they love."

Words from Jenny's song The Finish Line sum it all up:

"No don't waste your time
You better start the climb
Don't just stand at the bottom of this mountain
Head straight for the finish line."

Interested in studying music and media? Learn more about Macquarie University's music and arts courses.

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