Jane Arnison has played the infamous Berghain club, rubbed shoulders with Cyndi Lauper, and performed on stage with Peaches at the German Music Awards. She has established a firm foothold in the German music industry, wearing many hats as a producer, composer, mix engineer and musician. But the roots of her international success can be found at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
From a young age, Jane had always seen the Conservatorium as the pinnacle of music education. As a child, she would travel to the Con to undertake exams for trumpet and piano. It was only natural that she would one day choose to study there as an undergraduate.
“I wanted exposure to the cutting edge of music and sound," she explains. "I also loved the building and being in the most beautiful part of Sydney.”
I wanted to get the best music education, the reputation and the networks associated with the Con, and to meet like-minded people.
When she began her Bachelor of Music (Composition), Jane found a tight community of like-minded music lovers.
“I remember feeling so grateful to be in an environment with kindred spirits, music wafting across the passageways, and being able to immerse myself in every type of music and sound,” she says, reminiscing.
“We were a tight bunch and had a real spirit of competitive camaraderie. We competed fiercely but pushed and supported each other as well.”
Through her studies, Jane discovered new ways of understanding music that continue to influence how she works with sound.
“I was opened up to the phenomenon of music and to deconstruct, investigate and interrogate my experiences," she tells us. "Thinking deeply about sound in this way has informed every interaction I have with sound and music: whether it be the vocal arrangement of a pop song or composing a sound piece for an installation.”
Another transformative undergraduate experience was establishing her confidence as a musical professional.
“Positioning ourselves as high-quality music professionals is an attitude instilled in us in the Con," Jane remembers. "You take that with you into the first steps of your career.”
Confidence is a big part of getting people’s attention and getting them to trust that you can do the job.
Jane is now well established in the music business, collaborating with artists and creating her own music as part of dark synth-pop duo Evvol. Jane has also recently launched an initiative called Pathwaves, seeking to address gender disparity in the music industry.
While each workday is different, she has learnt to prioritise preparation and balance no matter what is on the agenda.
“My day starts with some exercise to get myself set for the day. I spend the first hour setting up, listening to references, reviewing mixes, and planning the session. When I feel switched on I'll dive right in. I try to take regular breaks, mainly for my ear health, but it also helps me to reset mentally and regain perspective."
Jane's skills and voracious passion for music have guided her from the Con to her busy days in the present.
"Currently, I'm getting a lot of mixing and production work," she says. "So that means lots of audio processing and intensive critical listening. I just start with the first sound, and next thing I know it’s time to pack up!”
For current and future music students studying at the Con, Jane’s advice is to take the plunge and relish the experience.
“Go for it! Remember that to get the most out of it you have to commit. You get out what you put in," she says. "Your peers at uni are future leaders. As you build your networks together, you will grow together. Several of my opportunities have come through my Con networks.”
Ground yourself in becoming really good at what you do and understand that it is a life’s work.
On beginning a career after university, Jane believes that giving yourself the space to figure out who you are and what you value as a musician is key.
“Take it easy and know that it is a process. Be considered in planning a trajectory once you identify what it is you want to achieve, and you will be able to have a healthy and lasting career.”
Interested in pursuing a career in music? Visit the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to discover how.