USQ paves career for talented musician
University of Southern Queensland student Courtney Feldman is only 27, yet her relationship with USQ dates back about a quarter of a century.
"[Legendary Australian jazz flautist] Don Burrows played a concert at USQ when I was very young," she recalled.
"That would've been the first jazz concert I attended."
Feldman's twin passions for jazz and academia have grown steadily in the intervening years, to a point where she is now undertaking her PhD at USQ, studying a Doctor of Philosophy.
A Toowoomba girl born and bred, Feldman was the type of child who, aged seven, began learning piano and music theory and genuinely enjoyed it.
"From a very early age I identified as a musician first and foremost, and music has remained my passion ever since," she said.
Feldman, a vocalist, pianist and flautist, hails from a family of musicians who, during her formative years, often played together at family jams.
"Nearly every one of my [extended] family members are musicians and many are multi-instrumentalists," she said.
"I was raised into that environment. My mum plays guitar, piano and sings, and my dad was a singer, bass guitar and guitar player.
"It was normal for me to perform with my family. It was important, and united us."
In primary school, Feldman performed in the concert and stage bands, and at Centenary Heights High School in Toowoomba she immersed herself in the concert and show bands, choir, vocal ensemble, small vocal ensemble, and musicals.
"Basically, I lived in the music block and I was okay with that!"
In 2010 Feldman began a Bachelor of Creative Arts at USQ. The university is within walking distance of her home, so although online study is an option, she spends most of her time on campus.
"I knew I wanted to be at USQ," she said.
"I had looked into other universities, but I've always been really impressed with USQ, and its history in our community.
As a Toowoomba girl it's fabulous that we've got access to a high-quality educational institution with a dedicated music faculty.
"The power of the people made this university [a reality]. Why shouldn't we have a fabulous uni in Toowoomba? We've got a wonderful town, with just enough of a city vibe as well as the beautiful slower pace of country living; music; and the arts community in general is really coming alive."
Having completed her degree in 2012, Feldman began teaching piano and voice. With USQ being the number one university in Queensland for graduate employment, Feldman started gaining industry experience to build upon her qualification.
"Coming out of my first degree I wanted to put all that I'd learnt into practice and get some industry experience, and work with a large number of students to see what challenges they are facing and what I can do to assist them.
"It took me a couple of years to find my feet and feel like I was genuinely content in what I was doing. Once I'd established myself as a teacher life got really busy, but then I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to take my career to the next level and come back and do more study."
In 2017 Feldman returned to USQ to undertake her Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours), and this year enrolled in the PhD program.
This upskilling aims to support her career advancement with the hopes of working in academia. USQ provides flexible study options that allow its students to successfully balance study within their lives.
"The thing that's kept me coming back to USQ is the music department itself," she said.
"It's such an intimate community; your lecturers know your name, and you're collaborating with them in a very inclusive environment. The small class numbers allow you to have one-on-one attention.
"We've got wonderful performance spaces and a state-of-the-art recording studio, as well as a wonderful range of Steinway and Kawai grand and upright pianos on site.
USQ students such as Feldman can benefit from supportive learning environments with staff who are music professionals and current in their industry.
The in-house production company, Artsworx, works with students, professional artists and industry to create events held at USQ Toowoomba.
Studying a postgraduate degree provides opportunities to expand your skills and increase your earning and career potential.
USQ offers flexible study options, personalised support and a variety of postgraduate degree levels, all of which support students in gaining industry-respected qualifications.
Apply now for semester 2, 2018, at USQ.