The recent Hawke's Bay High Schools Tour was a taste of life on the road for EIT music students.

Enrolled in the institute's Certificate in Contemporary Music Performance, the students formed into four bands to road-test their original compositions at lunch-time sessions at Karamu High School, Tamatea High School, Taradale High School and William Colenso College. During the week-long tour, the musos set up, performed and packed down like regular touring bands.

Lecturer Tom Pierard and learning facilitator Ron Kessels said the live performances didn't daunt the students, who had played gigs at Napier and Hastings venues and on the EIT campus as part of their study programme.

With classmate Jo Vrijs as compere, the bands each played for 10 minutes and enjoyed the lively audience feedback.


As the first year for the certificate nears an end, Mr Pierard and Mr Kessels feel well pleased with what's been achieved. Twenty-three students are close to completing the 34-week programme and, with performances videotaped during the year, they have seen their improvement.

While there had been challenges along the way, Mr Pierard and Mr Kessels appreciated the payoff.

Having a lot of more mature students may have been a bit of a gift, they felt. It developed into a supportive environment, and the class had become a real family with students keen to help their peers.

It had been good to have the chance to work with them, and the students were lucky enough to have purpose-built facilities to demo, rehearse and record their work in.

Applicants who had studied music or had performance experience were auditioned for the limited places available. Based on the auditions, students were then grouped into bands to learn theory, practise, rehearse and perform.

Eight genres of music, including home-grown, blues, reggae, hip-hop, R&B;, rock and pop, were covered in the course of a month.

The same approach would apply for next year's intake, which Mr Pierard and Mr Kessels expected would include more school leavers - alerted to the programme by the Hawke's Bay Today Careers Expo and the High Schools Tour.

Meanwhile, the students will have a final opportunity to perform together in public at the Music Performance, which will be staged at Napier's Shed 2 on Friday, November 23, as part of the EIT School of Arts and Design's inaugural IS Showcase.