Luke Creer was in Grade 4 when his music teacher, Jane Geddes, asked his class if anyone was interested in learning a wind instrument.

Impressed by the warm sound of the French horn, Luke was still blissfully unaware how challenging the instrument would be to play.

“I thought it was a bit ‘off the beaten track’ compared to other instruments,” he remembers.

Soon after, Luke convinced a woman wanting to sell a high-quality French horn that he was serious about learning the instrument—he still plays that same instrument.

Now in his eighth year studying French horn, Luke’s preparation for his Year 12 Music Style & Composition, and Music Performance exams have dominated his recent music practice.

He also participated in BSSC’s Musician of the Year.

‘The Villanelle’ composed by Paul Dukas, is an exam piece Luke says he’s come to love.

“Apparently Dukas had some kind of mid-life crisis and burnt most of his compositions,” he says. “Imagine everything we’ve lost.”

Like all musicians who play a wind-instrument, using his breath correctly and ensuring all the muscles of the face—particularly those around the mouth—are completely controlled are make-or-break skills for Luke.

“Sometimes, my whole face aches and my lips are totally numb after a long practice session,” he says. “I practise holding my breath to expand my lung capacity.”

Luke Luke also plays the trombone which has allowed him to get into jazz.

He’s no musical snob and loves a wide selection of music, including experimental compositions by Herbie Handcock and the classics of Loius Armstrong and Nat King Cole.

In fact, a member of his favourite band, The Cat Empire, sold him his trombone.

Luke also plays in a couple of local bands hoping to get gigs in Melbourne clubs once the pandemic settles.

Unsurprisingly, he can’t imagine life without playing and/or writing music and is presently exploring his options for future study.

“There are great music teachers at Monash and Melbourne unis,” he says. “I want keep studying the French horn, but I can also consider musicology, or even music therapy. There’s also a great course in Berlin.”

For a student who has not only studied German Language since Year 7, but also had a six-month exchange to the small German city of Hamm in Year 9, it would be a brilliant combination.

“BSE offered a six-week exchange,” Luke says, “but my parents encouraged me to apply for an extended period through an independent program.

With two years of German already up his sleeve, Luke arrived in Hamm with a fantastic opportunity to test his skills.

“I comprehended almost everything,” he says, “but I didn’t have enough vocab or understanding of German grammar to respond consistently.”

Despite this, Luke’s says his host family were brilliant and, incredibly, had a friend who played in a brass band. Naturally Luke had packed his French horn and was generously lent a trombone.

I ended up playing with two bands in Hamm and I even had two spectacular weeks skiing in the Austrian Alps,” he says.

Back in Bendigo in Year 10, Luke remembers BSSC music teacher, Matt Pankhurst, visiting his school to talk to potential music students and inspire them to keep on with music.

Luke arrived at BSSC looking forward to meeting heaps of new people—especially musicians—and quickly made new friends in his classes.

Looking back over his time at the college, he has trouble naming a favourite subject.

“I think German Language and my two music subjects are tied,” he says. “But I’ve liked every class and every teacher.”

Luke also believes his independence has been enhanced by the BSSC approach of get organised—get the work done—and do the study to consolidate it.

“It’s such a safe and supportive environment,” he says. “There’s just so much help—all you have to do is ask. I’ve learnt I have much more capacity than I realised.”

Given the opportunity to speak with anyone living or dead, Luke would choose a conversation with Ray Charles.

“I’d love to know what drove someone who was not only blind, but faced such racism in the pre-civil rights era in the US, to be able to persevere,” he says. “It would have been so easy to give up.

“But Ray Charles didn’t give up and we’re still enjoying the music he gave us.”