Our Students

Hayley Ohlsen

From the moment Hayley Ohlsen sat at a drum kit, she knew that she wanted to make music her career.

She took the first step towards her goal by completing Melbourne Polytechnic’s Certificate III in Music. Her journey continues at Melbourne Polytechnic through her studies in the Certificate IV in Music.

“This is not just about playing music and being good at that, it’s also about having a career. You learn about where to put in demos, what they’re really looking for and you make a lot of contacts.”- Hayley Ohlsen

Having finished VCE in 2011, Hayley Ohlsen found that Melbourne Polytechnic’s Certificate III in Music was the perfect pathway to achieve her musical ambitions. She initially heard about Melbourne Polytechnic from a fellow musician in the year above her at school. It turned out to be a solid recommendation.

“She got into NMIT [Melbourne Polytechnic’s former title] and told me about the facilities and the course, and I really decided it was the place for me too.”

The transition from school to studying at Melbourne Polytechnic was an easy one for Hayley, with the small classes and practical focus giving her real encouragement to play as much as she could.

“The facilities are really professional and the course is very practically based. Some of my recital pieces were really hard, but I just went over them and broke them down. I got some help from other musicians; you get help from everyone.

There were around 20 of us in the class, so we’re pretty close as a group, we all really know each other and what we’re all capable of and what we prefer playing.”

With a strong background in music theory, Hayley came into the Certificate III keen to improve her performance skills and develop all areas of her musical practice. The regular lessons and playing in a variety of ensembles certainly helped with her skills.

“This year has really helped me to pick up my practical work, especially different styles and playing with different musicians.”

She also found a few surprises along the way. “The technical side was absolutely amazing. I learnt so much about setting up and sound check and things that I didn’t really know much about before.”

Hayley was also impressed by the technical skills of her teachers and learnt a lot from their experience — especially the importance of practising.

“I was completely stunned with the things they’d done. They talked about their musical experiences, what they play and how they play. They demonstrate a lot to you to. Some of the things they were capable of doing just off the top of their heads were incredible. You could tell they’ve been doing it for a really long time. You can’t get that good without a lot of experience.”

As a drummer, Hayley also enjoyed the chance to extend her repertoire beyond the drums and explore different ways to express herself musically.

“I’ve learnt different technologies and about composition. Because I play a rhythm-based instrument, putting a melody line to something was a bit of a challenge for me.”

“In the course we get quite a wide variation in percussion, we work on our principal instrument as well as having an African percussion class and learning Gamelan. It’s very different; it’s less about timing and more about listening really closely to hear where to come in. Gamelan is tuned, but not to Western notes, so you learn a lot about melody as well as rhythm.”

Along with developing her performance skills, Melbourne Polytechnic's Certificate III in Music has also helped Hayley see a clear path forward.

Hayley’s ambition is to work full-time as a drummer, “the big dream is to get into a huge band or work as a sessions drummer”, but she also wants to continue studying so that she can teach music too.

“I’ve always thought about teaching music. After I finish the Certificate IV, I’m hoping to study a Bachelor of Music and a Diploma of Education. I’d really like to teach music as well as play it. I think it’s important to have those kinds of options.”


Certificate III in Music