Q&A with Aspiring Musicians - Dual Motion

Where are you from?

Billie: I’m from Orewa, and attended Orewa College with Leon throughout intermediate and high school. I still live there during the semester breaks, and stay on campus in Central Auckland during the semester.
Leon: I grew up in Takapuna but moved to Red Beach and attended Orewa College when I was 10. I had played the flute for a few years before then, but played trumpet throughout high school in the school concert, jazz, and brass bands. I picked up flute again in year 11 or 12, and in Year 13 started getting really into it!

How did your group form?

Billie: We played together in the concert and jazz bands at school, and ended up in the same cohort at uni as well. We saw some opportunities coming up for small ensembles, so we found some duets for clarinet and flute and gave it a go!
Leon: Billie and I had been good friends through the bands we were both in, as well as both being involved in the orchestras of our local Centrestage productions. We both decided to study performance at university, and she’s never been able to get rid of me since!

What made you want to become a musician?

Billie: During high school, all of my free time was spent playing music, whether it was rehearsing with the school bands, practising piano, or playing in the pit at our local theatre. I never had a retail or hospitality job; even back then I taught a little bit, busked in the weekend, and got occasional work playing rehearsal piano for community theatres. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Leon: It was something that I enjoyed and was good at in school, but it was always difficult to get past the nagging voice in my head saying it wasn’t a ‘proper’ career. I first started a Bachelor of Science which, although I didn’t like it, showed me clearly that music was what I wanted to do. Since then I’ve never looked back, and although it’s hard I never regret choosing this path.

Can you play any other instruments?

Billie: I play piano, clarinet and saxophone.
Leon: I played trumpet in high school! And conducting – it isn’t an instrument per se, but it definitely requires practise!

Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of music?

Billie: I didn’t for a long time. But in the most recent lockdown, I’ve been learning to knit. Other than that, I enjoy watching movies and trying different teas!
Leon: Music is pretty all-consuming sometimes! But I really enjoy cooking and hiking.

What is a highlight of your time as an APO Aspiring Musician?

Billie: I really enjoyed performing at Villa Maria Winery. It was very different to any other performances I’d done and we got to meet some interesting people.
Leon: Villa Maria Winery – It was different to our usual gigs and felt very professional!

Do you have a favourite venue to perform in?

Billie: I love whenever I get to perform at Centrestage Theatre, the community theatre in Orewa. I’ve played there a lot over the years and met so many other great performers there. The Michael Fowler Centre is probably the biggest and most beautiful venue I’ve performed in though.
Leon: Like Billie said, any opportunity to perform at our local Centrestage is great. The most enjoyable venue I’ve played in has been the North Head tunnels in Devonport; the acoustics were really cool!

What advice would you give your younger self or a young musician pursuing music studies at university?

Billie: I would tell my past self to focus on what I’m practising, rather than how many hours I’m doing or how many hours everyone else is doing. I spent a lot of time worrying about whether I was doing ‘enough’. But once I started focussing on what I enjoyed and what got me closer to my goals, I actually ended up practising more and enjoying it more!
Leon: Don’t ever regret your choice of study, no matter what friends or family may say. If you want it, do it. You don’t have to become the next world-class soloist, composer, or scholar…study music because you want to! There are so many jobs out there that you just don’t know about yet – but they’re there! Don’t feel the need to have some complicated career master-plan either.

Youve nearly finished undergrad; where to from here?

Billie: I’m going straight into my masters studies in clarinet performance next year.
Leon: I’m planning on continuing study for my honours and masters; the plan beyond then is a little hazy but I’m just taking it bits at a time.

Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?

Billie: I admire anyone who pursues a career in music. Growing up, a lot of the people around me were apprehensive about how I could make a living as a musician, and I began to feel like it wasn’t a ‘real job’. Meeting musicians, whether they were teachers, performers, accompanists, or a mix of things (as most of us are) helped me to realise that if you are really passionate about something, you can make it work!
Leon: My high school teachers were a huge influence on me and I still appreciate their support and help today – and I get to perform with them! I am especially grateful to my late music teacher who had so much selfless energy to give and pass on his knowledge which shaped the kind of musician I am.

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