Founded in 1968 by Dr Peter Galvo, the Australian Institute Of Music (AIM) is the largest music, entertainment and performing arts institution in Australia. It is accredited by the Australian Tertiary Education Quality Standard  Agency (TEQSA) – a University equivalent.

It’s educators are qualified, respected and actively involved in the music industry whilst approximately over forty of the teaching staff are PhD holders. 

The Sydney campus is a five minute walk from Central station and features a main headline concert auditorium – John Painter Hall. There are also music ensemble rooms equipped with keyboards, pianos, guitar and bass amp, drum kits and mixing decks. There are private rehearsal rooms for one on one instrumental practice and teaching rooms with grand pianos, full drum kits, amplifiers and other equipment.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, AIM undertook a six million dollar renovation which created an open plan design called the Creative Space Hub from which the library, main auditorium and the ensemble room called ‘The Space’ radiated as well as seating in the hub. There was a stepped stage area where the students could jam, mainly at lunch time.

Paul Nettelbeck, Head of Marketing and Recruitment highlighted the virtues of three purpose-built theatre and performance halls. The premiere concert hall, the John Painter Hall had a two hundred and seventy seat capacity as well as AIM theatre 1 which has an eighty seat capacity with full band set up and AIM Theatre 2 which had a sixty seat capacity with black box theatre and a sprung wooden dance  floor. 

I asked Professor Margaret Noble, AIM’s Chief Executive Officer, as to the quantity of students and was told that there were over a thousand students at any given time.

Eighty two percent  of students come from Australia, whilst the rest come from countries as diverse as India, Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas. It has also achieved a seventy percent plus internship rate.

Professor Noble also indicated that there was a fair deal of cross fertilisation with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. However she was proud of the fact that the syllabus was broader in that there were studies in audio engineering, sound design, concert-tour- festival promotion, film and video composition, event venue management and entertainment marketing coordination, music and entertainment management, to name but a few areas which do not deal with the traditional core of music but vitally underpins it.

Over its fifty years it has collected twenty two grand pianos and standing in a place of honour are the guitars of George Benson, Sting, Jimmy Barnes, Tommy Emmanuel, to name but a few. 

On the day we were present two successful alumni performed for the students. They were rapper D Minor who was interviewed by teacher Andy Walton, with D Minor expressing with touching gratitude the tremendous grounding in music which AIM provided to him. As well as reaching the semi finals of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ he has released two singles, toured China and won a Gold Medal in Los Angeles for a musical ‘Olympian’ competition. 

D Minor was joined on stage by Australia’s Got Talent 2016 winner Fletcher Pilon, also an aluminist from AIM. 

AIM has a flexible syllabus which if fully completed takes three years whereupon  students receive a Bachelor of Entertainment Management,Bachelor of Performance or a Bachelor Of Music specialising in contemporary, classical , composition and music production, audio, music theatre and arts management. There is flexibility which allows the students to  go out into the industry for a paid gig and once that is completed return and continue with their course.

For 2020 AIM has launched two brand new short courses – the Latin Street Beats and Afro Cuban ensemble courses-  as well as a course in keyboard, guitar, choir and vocals, bass, composition, jazz ensemble, rock band, theory pathway and electronic music. They are designed to complement undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs.

AIM is proud of its access to their strong industry connections and the ability of students to shape their degree and forge their own path with hands on degree units to demonstrate their particular passion.

AIM is confident that it prepares students for tomorrow’s music industry. It does this through its state of the art equipment, including for example the Dante system which allows a student to record a song anywhere in the building which will then be downloaded to an analogue or digital mixing desk for enhancement. 

As well as the provision of  Master’s degree courses, there are a number of scholarships and financial assistance packages for very talented or disadvantaged students with a passion for music

All pics by Ben Apfelbaum.