“Practice more—you can always practice more.”
This is the advice Patrick would give his 12-year-old self if he could go back to that time.
“And maybe not to get too stressed about the future or about getting school work in on time.”
It is an interesting thought game to imagine what more practice might have done for Patrick—a recent winner of an excellence award at the BSSC Musician of the Year. Patrick wowed the audience with his stunning—and innovative—performances of Chick Corea’s Spain and Tigran Hamasyan’s What the Waves Brought.
Patrick began learning piano and guitar when he was six.
“I never practiced between lessons,” he says.
Even on a ‘diet’ of just 30 minutes a week, he was hungry enough by Year 7 to take up cello.
His years at Bendigo South East College cemented music as front and centre in Patrick’s life.
“Steve Briggs is Head of Music there and he had a huge influence on me with his passion and the opportunities he gave me,” Patrick says.
“I began to practice all my instruments. I was in a rock group with my guitar and played in a jazz ensemble which was really challenging,” he adds. “I knew how to read music, but jazz is written completely differently and I was looking at this music, thinking, I don’t know what any of this means’. It took a lot of work.”
It was this experience of jazz that hooked Patrick on improvisation.
]“Once I had a go at improvising, I loved it,” he says. “I really like the jazz band, ‘Snarky Puppy’. They inspired me to develop improvisation on piano.”
Another important mentor for Patrick has been his piano teacher, Shane Curtis, who is a multi-instrumentalist and has been teaching him since 2010.
“He has been such a vital support, along with my cello teacher, Sam Goble, who has strongly influenced me in learning how to think musically.
Moving to BSSC, it took a while for Patrick to settle in. As he says, “everything was so new.” But from the moment he arrived he really enjoyed all his classes.
“I’m very grateful to Senior for having such fantastic teachers, such a great music department, our own recording studio (very cool!) and Ulumbarra Theatre,” Patrick says. “There’s nothing I want to change about BSSC. I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”
The hardest decision he had to make was what instrument to focus on.
“I almost chose cello until I realised how much I love piano. But I still play cello and guitar and I just love composing—creating. It is such an exciting part of music.
“My favourite composers are too many to list. But Michael League, a bass player, is one. I’m also a fan of the Aussie rock scene—Powder Finger, Hiatus Kaiyote and The Cat Empire.”
While music has continued to be a major focus for Patrick, his subject choices reveal the breadth of his interests: Maths Methods, Physics, English Language Global Politics and, unsurprisingly, Music Composition. Patrick is also an avid reader of fantasy fiction.
By Year 12 Patrick was studying Music Investigation as well as Music Composition—although Investigation remains his favourite subject –one that lets him focus on his passion for piano improvisation. He is also really enjoying Physics.
“We recently looked at the harmonics series and I it was great to think about this connection between physics and music.
“Although music can detract from other subjects because there is a constant desire to play, it also benefits all my subjects because I have learnt to focus and commit to learning,” he says. “I even saw some research that showed music students consistently do better in other subjects… and music is a great way to relax. When I’m stressed I can always play something soothing.”
Despite the focus on music, Patrick still takes an interest in global politics.
“I think it’s really shocking to see the appalling amounts of racism and sexism imbued in our society,” he says “…that there is still such a wage gap… that people don’t believe climate change is real.
“I admire people who are working to make a positive change rather than just trying to keep the status quo—which isn’t really a good status quo. I admire people in political parties who question their own party’s position on issues.”
And Patrick’s plans for the future?
“I want to perform,” he says. “I hope to go to Monash or Melbourne Uni to study jazz piano. As far as a big dream goes, there are lots of things that come to mind—like playing with Snarky Puppy or some other music idol—but actually I don’t like to plan too far ahead.”