Music – particularly a fascination with percussion – has always been a part of life for UNE student Craig Rabnott.

But undertaking a UNE Music degree has taken Craig in some new directions – instilling an interest in acoustic-electric music and a passion for composing. Now, as he’s about to graduate, he’s premiered his work with a live orchestra, and played to more than 6,000 people as part of an exciting dance-orchestra fusion show. 

Craig says:

I began my musical journey in Mackay at primary school in 1996, after selecting percussion as my choice of instrument. My older brothers both played wind instruments in school concert bands, and my favourite memories were of seeing them perform in my formative years.

Music quickly became my favourite subject throughout school, and I soaked up as many performances as I could, becoming increasingly fascinated with the role the drum set played. A turning point was seeing and meeting Dr Grant Collins at one of his solo concerts at the Conservatorium of Music in Mackay, and a world of possibilities in approaching the sounds and playing of the drum set opened to me.

I started a music degree in Lismore in 2005, and always wanted to finish that off.  The online option at UNE allowed me to pursue this in my own time, and UNE came highly recommended. 

Juggling full-time work and teaching had its challenges on top of full-time study, however it further enhanced my time-management skills, to a much-needed level! Meeting so many wonderful people and lecturers through the course has been the highlight.

My interest in hybrid acoustic-electric music has grown since learning from lecturer and composer Dr Paul Smith. In one of his units, I developed a composition that I then submitted in an application for a 12-month mentorship program offered by leading new music group in Brisbane, Topology. I was one of five new composers across Queensland and the Northern Territory to be accepted.

As a result of the program, I had the opportunity to premiere the work I’d begun as an assignment, at the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane with a local string quartet.

At the end of May, I was also invited to participate in an exciting and unique fusion of dance music and live orchestra with Synthony, a New Zealand based show playing in Brisbane. A sold-out show in Brisbane City Hall turned into two subsequent performances at the iconic Riverstage. We played to more than 6,000 people. As a percussionist, the show gave me the freedom to explore sounds that I had developed over time in an environment that suited them perfectly. 

Being a touring drummer with Synthony would be amazing, though that job does not exist yet! For now I’m hoping to develop my teaching methods for the drum set, focusing on simplifying the approach to four-way coordination on the drum set.

Having such great lecturers who I can still communicate with has helped in ways I never thought possible.