Education Publications

Case Study: Inspiring stories Wally de Backer (‘Gotye’)

Case Studies

September 01, 2013


Grammy award winning Wally De Backer (‘Gotye’) also recounts a highly positive experience with music at school.  Wally didn’t have any music education that he can remember during primary school days, but his secondary school gave him a lot of great opportunities to pursue and learn about music.  At Parade College, a Christian Brothers boys’ school in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, Wally was taught classroom music, undertook private drum lessons and studied Music Solo Performance in VCE.  The school also provided a stage for Wally to sing in the school musical, play euphonium in the brass band and drums in various other school bands.  Wally made friends from studying music at school too and formed his first band, ‘Downstares’, with high school friends from his year.

Wally praises his schoolteachers, not only in the music department but also in English and Literature who introduced him to inspiring albums, poets and writers.  He names many of these teachers including Michael Martin, his first drum teacher, who inspired him greatly with a variety of drum styles and exploring new kinds of music he’d never heard before; Martin MacAulay, the head of music who inspired Wally in classroom music and as leader of the brass band as well as other teachers; Nathan Xenopontas, Mr Callaghan and Paul Ryan.  Wally makes special mention of Martin MacAulay’s irreverence, humour, and fantastic energy for exploring the potential for music to communicate a wide range of emotions.

Whilst music was Wally’s favourite subject at school, he also loved learning Japanese, art and graphics.  Music helped make his school days highly positive and enjoyable.

Music puts you in touch with a part of yourself that other things like language and mathematics can’t quite touch. Call it your soul, maybe. I think engaging with music is where I’ve found the most spiritual connection to things and that started at school, being given the opportunity to discover the depth music had to offer.

– Gotye

Credit: This case study was prepared as part of ‘Music to Our Ears’ which was commissioned by The Caledonia Foundation and Shark Island Productions, prepared by Annie O’Rourke (89° Degrees East) and written by Dennis Glover and Fiona Hehir. Editing and additional content by Chris Bowen, Dr Richard Letts and Alex Masso (Music Australia)

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