Whitireia programme a stepping stone into New Zealand music industry

Published on

Sam Howard, fourth year music student at Whitireia, did not have any formal music training when he chose to pursue his dream career in music. But he knew that having a formal qualification would be an important part of making his journey a success.

As a first step to following his dream, Sam auditioned to study music at Whitireia in 2018, after finishing year 13 at Whanganui High School.

Sam is now studying at Level 6 and is also a working musician and manager for the band The Gallery. Over summer he successfully organised a series of concerts for the band in the South Island, and they are expecting to sell out their upcoming show in Wellington.

Te Auaha Sam Gallery 1Whitireia music student Sam Howard

The music programmes at Whitireia stood out to Sam because of their creative, hands-on nature and their acceptance of musicians of all abilities.

“When I moved to Wellington from Whanganui after college, I just started writing music with my flatmates and considering how I could turn it into a career."

"As a rapper I didn’t have any formal training, and I didn't have a great understanding of musical theory, but the tutors saw that I would work hard to learn it on the course and that was one of the big things they look for."

"When students audition we tell them not to be scared of what you don't know, focus on what you do know and we can work on the rest,” Whitireia music tutor Gloria Hildred says.

“I auditioned with the idea that I would complete whatever course I got into,” says Sam. “I explained I didn’t really know any theory and they were fine with that because they saw I was willing to learn.

"My parents had always pushed me towards a career in sport. I played rep level basketball, cricket, badminton and football growing up - and loved it - but in the back of my mind I always wanted to pursue a career as a rapper or performer.

“It has been really awesome to be able to work as a musician while I am studying because the two obviously complement each other and I don’t have to worry about getting a part-time job to help pay the rent while I study. I am the vocalist for The Gallery but I also do a lot of the management which is time-consuming, but really cool to be able to put into action the things that we have learnt in class.”

Te Auaha Sam Gallery 2.jpgSam Howard and The Gallery

While working and studying is a lot to take on, the draw of finishing his qualification and the supportive environment of Whitireia has been too much for Sam to leave.

There have been times when I have thought that studying full-time plus being in the band is too much but I am really keen to complete my studies before jumping completely into the music industry,” says Sam.

“It is also such a supportive, whanau environment here. We all help each other out with assignments and collaborate on our music and that is pretty hard to leave.”


More information about New Zealand New Zealand Diploma in Music (Level 6)

Develop your instrument and musicianship skills in instrument studies (including voice), arranging, improvisation, composing and songwriting. Collaborate in recording and production.

Study composition, songwriting, recording and production, instrument studies (including the voice).

More information can be found here.