Where Are They Now? Meet Alumni, Natalie Rogers!

The Jazz Music Institute was founded in 1996 and has been a higher education tertiary institution since 2009.

In the following blog series of ‘Where Are They Now?’, we talk to some of our alumni who we haven’t heard from in quite some time! We find out where life has taken them since graduation, and how studying at JMI benefited them throughout their career and life.

For this particular blog, we were lucky to chat with JMI alumni Natalie Rogers who started JMI’s Bachelor program in 2013 and graduated in 2015! Read on for the full interview.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you play?

Hello! My name is Natalie Rogers & I am a vocalist. I have been singing ever since I was a little girl growing up. I’d been involved in choirs and groups all through school, then started to pursue jazz in 2012 when I joined the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra Big Band led by Mal Woods in my final year of high school. Mal was actually the person who encouraged me to audition for JMI, and I completed my Bachelor of Music in 2015.

What have you been doing since graduating from JMI?

After completing my Bachelor, I went straight into a Masters of Music Studies majoring in Vocal Pedagogy at the Conservatorium of Music in South Bank. Alongside this course, I started teaching voice privately on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. I graduated from the Con mid 2017 and have been teaching private vocal lessons as well as choirs ever since. I currently work at Brisbane Music Studio in Morningside, and Brigidine College in Indooroopilly, where I take two vocal groups (one auditioned and one not), and co-run a choir called The Sound Collective with Leah Bond. I have arranged some repertoire for my choirs as well which I really love!

What has been one of your biggest musical highlights in your career thus far?

In 2021, my choir The Sound Collective and I were involved in a mass choir event organised by the Queensland Music Festival called Absolutely Everybody. We participated in online sectionals and rehearsals, and eventually came together to film a music video at Brisbane Riverstage. It was led by Dr Jonathon Welch AM and Emma Dean, and had a killer band involved. It was a really fun experience!

What are your future goals in music?

I want to continue teaching voice and choir to anyone and everyone! I love passing on the knowledge of the voice, how it all works, and how we can utilise it to the best of our ability. The nuts and bolts of singing fascinate me. I really enjoy teaching teenage female voices so if my work leads me more there that would be amazing. I also really love arranging for voices and different combinations of voices, so I hope I get to continue doing that in the future.

How has studying at JMI helped you to get where you are?

JMI helped me create a deeper understanding and appreciation for my instrument.

Before JMI, I didn’t have many formal private lessons, so my vocal technique was all over the place. Working on my voice took a lot of time, patience, and focus, and it wasn’t all smooth sailing. During my time at JMI, I was able to create an instrument that I can really play with and manipulate. I was able to understand my voice on a deeper level and learn how to play around with my voice to achieve a variety of textures and colours. This understanding (and the struggle) really helps in teaching voice. When I’m with my students, I can empathise with them if they are struggling to understand a concept or finding it hard to put a certain technique into place. I feel I have a deeper connection with my students because of this.

I also fell in love with arranging and transcribing vocal harmonies whilst at JMI. This helped me feel confident in arranging for my choral groups, and be a bit more creative with harmonies and ideas.

What advice would you have for someone thinking about studying music and especially jazz?

I would say heavily consider studying at JMI. The teachers and the subjects really help you have a fully formed understanding of jazz, and in turn music in general.

I have learnt so many skills at JMI, that I apply all the time to my teaching and my own singing. Also, the support from the other students and staff is amazing and the opportunities that you are offered are incredible.

Any advice for current students as they complete their Bachelor?

Make the most of every class, jam, rehearsal – everything! The more involved you are, the more you’re going to get out of the course.

I would also say for vocalists, don’t be afraid to branch out and try different things. The more you play around with your instrument, the more you will learn what you can get from it. We have so many colours and textures in our voices at our disposal, so play around and discover what your voice can do!

What musicians have you been listening to lately?

Since I’m a teacher, I listen to a lot of different music (some not really by choice haha!). I have Jordan Rakei, Jorja Smith, Kokoroko & The Ezra Collective on repeat at the moment though. They always give me so much joy when I listen to them.

Any music links of yours we can listen to?

I like to perform at our choir’s showcase each year so here is a recent recording from that!


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