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CHANGE OF BEAT: What's next for Geoff?

KEY CHANGE: Dr Geoff Walden at the Australian Institute of Country Music in Gympie.
KEY CHANGE: Dr Geoff Walden at the Australian Institute of Country Music in Gympie. Renee Albrecht

IT CAN be hard sometimes to acknowledge the impact one simple idea can have.

But as he prepares to move from Gympie, it is clear Dr Geoff Walden has been an instrumental figure in our musical education.

Having focused his master's degree on students with an interest in Western popular music, he was frustrated at the funding and attention more 'traditional' instruments and genres received in schools.

Ever the innovator, when Dr Walden first started the Country Music School of Excellence in the 1990s, he saw room for improvement.

"Young people who played the flute, clarinet or saxophone would have plenty of money spent on them,” he said.

"It was clear young people who had an interest in contemporary popular music were missing out.”

As for why he picked country music? Simple, it wasn't being done anywhere else.

"We needed to do something unique, to set us apart,” he said.

And with modern country often heavily flavoured by rock, pop and folk music, there was a broad appeal.

At the Australian Institute of Country Music, Dr Walden has been a steadfast mentor to countless young musicians looking to make their mark on the industry.

There couldn't be a bigger difference between the music business then and now, but a love of technology has ensured Dr Walden has remained ahead of the game.

"It's unbelievable what young people can do with recording equipment in their bedrooms,” he said.

"The embrace of electronic music - be it looping stations or software - is also becoming widespread.”

With his big move to Gayndah just around the corner, he admitted there was some hesitation to leaving Gympie behind.

But when asked if he felt the future of country music education was in safe hands, he remained confident in the ability of students and staff.

"The potential is there for it to happen, no other towns in Australia have the facilities to focus on this,” he said.

"We're totally well situated to be a leader in the creative industries with this particular focus on contemporary music.”

As for the immediate future, he'll be looking to sell his house.

Topics:  australian institute of country music geoff walden music teacher

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