Elliot Wellard believes he was destined to be a musician.

The BSSC Year 12 student’s parents have long been members of brass bands and his siblings play trumpet, trombone and percussion.

Elliot began with the clarinet at the start of Year 7.

It’s an instrument some believe to be the most challenging of the woodwind family and Elliot, like many before him, found it difficult to learn. He certainly didn’t have an immediate connection.

It was in Year 10 that Elliot discovered his Dad’s long forgotten electric bass sitting in a cupboard and fell in love with it instantly.

“When you really love an instrument, there is this amazing connection that occurs,” he explains.

Music Performance is now part of Elliot’s VCE studies and he has formed a band with a couple of other students, one on guitar and another on drums, which he describes as “a classic blues rock trio”.

“We love playing Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughan,” he says. “And we’ve had a go at writing a couple of tunes ourselves.”

Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, ‘Ozzie Hardwood and the Maestros’ have performed a number of times in the Ulumbarra Plaza during lunchtime events. The band’s guitarist is also their singer—which is lucky because Elliot insists his vocal ability is “barely good enough for singing in the shower”.

Before the latest wave of remote learning the band was rehearsing each weekend and playing regularly at the college. Sadly they’ve discovered that online, remote practice sessions just don’t work.

Reflecting on how much the music program influenced his choice of college for his senior years, Elliot says, “music was the icing on the cake with BSSC”.

At the end of Year 10 there was little to consider when Elliot was thinking about where he would study VCE. As the youngest in the family, Elliot had the benefit of his siblings’ experiences—they had all been to BSSC and loved it.

“It was the same when I started at Eaglehawk Secondary College,” he says. “My brothers and sister had all been there before me, so it brought no fear.”

The only thing that grates on Elliot are the many stairs at BSSC—some he came to know well last term because his Advisor group met on the top floor of E Block.

Despite his love of music, Elliot doesn’t plan a career in music.

“Music is so amazing and I expect it will always be a part of my life,” he says. “It often distracts me in other classes. My mind will wander off and when I snap back, whatever we’re doing often seems so boring by comparison.”

Despite these lapses, Elliot really likes BSSC and particularly appreciates the diversity of people from across the globe who attend this college.

As well as Music Performance, Elliot is studying Accounting, Business Management and English Language.

“I just love Accounting, he says. “There is a great culture in the classroom and we all get on so well. Our teacher, Anne-Marie Burgess, is incredible.”

Elliot admits that he initially chose Business Management as a bit of a ‘filler’ but, to his great delight, has found it to be much more enjoyable than he imagined.

English Language takes such a different approach in comparison to any English Elliot has studied before, which he says has made it a very interesting subject for him.

So what are the aspirations of this accounting musician?

Elliot sees a gap year, with business or accounting studies as his back-up plan. But there is a completely unexpected ‘other side’ to Elliot.

“I have applied for an internship at the Australian Geospacial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO), based in Bendigo,” he explains. “I should hear back in the next couple of months and hope it will lead into a career.”

The AGO describes its purpose as providing geospatial intelligence from imagery and other sources in support of Australia’s defence and national interests.

Elliot has already had some experience with the wonders of mapping through his involvement with Scouts.

“Scouts is amazing,” he says. “You meet great people and learn diverse life skills.”

Through Venturer Scouts, Elliot has had some stunning experiences in the natural world.

“In the summer of 2018/19 we went to New Zealand and part of the trip was held on a remote island,” he recalls. “We were divided into four teams and for six days we had to manage with very little gear or food.

“There was only one clean water source on the island. It was about an hour’s walk and we only had one water bottle each.”

Elliot became resourceful very quickly. He learnt to fish with a line and net, and to cook a stew from the clams he and his team collected.

There were a number of unexpected challenges on the island too—like wild donkeys that stole some of their food. But, as Elliot points out, you don’t have to go to another country to experience all that a wilderness has to offer.

“A place I really love is Mount Kooyoora,” Elliots says. “I’ve had three or four camps out there and it’s amazing.”

Like many group-based activities, Scouting activities have been hit hard by the lockdowns and forced to settle for online interaction via Microsoft teams. As Elliot and probably many others would agree, “it’s just not the same”.

Elliot feels the same way about remote-learning.

He recalls during the last remote-learning period he spent way too much time on social media and this time around has taken a whole different approach to his workload.

“This time I’m more motivated,” he says. “As soon as work comes in I try to hammer it out and, if I can, I try to meet deadlines ahead of time.

“I seem to have more energy and I’m enjoying being able to organise my own time and work at my own pace… I also get to pick up the bass more often.”

Now, with his part time job as a kitchen hand at Mr Bob’s Sports Bar also on hold, it’s possible there will be many hours for bass practice.

His hot study tip is to create a playlist that is highly motivating.

“I like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,” he says. “As soon as that first note comes through I feel the energy rush.”

Meanwhile, Elliot is not oblivious to global issues and believes the pandemic has distracted from really significant problems that continue to impact people.

“Clean water in Africa—or anywhere—is a really big problem. It disturbs me so much to think about people not having safe water.

“It’s great that the company ‘Who Gives a Crap’ (they manufacture toilet paper and paper towelling) donates 50 per cent of its profits towards creating safe water supplies and building toilets for remote villages.”

Turning the lens on Australia, Elliot believes our politicians have been unjustly criticised during the coronavirus emergency, acknowledging the truly tough decisions Daniel Andrews and Scott Morrison have had to make.

He also admires those who care about the natural world. Midnight Oil is a band he loves and he particularly respects Peter Garrett for his willingness to take environmental issues to Federal Parliament.

So what advice would Elliot offer if he could go back in time and have a serious chat with his 12-year-old self?

“Don’t look back. Don’t dwell on the past. Look at the bright stuff—the possibilities—and focus on moving forward.”