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Teaching piano as a sideline job through university opened up a world of opportunities for Sarah Mills-Menogue in the music industry.

Sarah graduated from our Duncraig campus in 1999 and decided to teach piano while studying Cognitive Science at UWA – a simple decision which changed her career direction completely.

She went on to complete a Music degree, Graduate Diploma in Education and Diploma at a music school in Hungary. Now she works as a freelance musician focusing on choral and piano.

“I’ve always been passionate about music, but didn’t study music straight after school as I didn’t realise how diverse the industry is, and how it is possible to make a living from it,” Sarah says.

Her passion for music is obvious, speaking about it not as a job but as a significant part of who she is.

“I love the way music expresses the inexpressible,” she says.

“I love the way it records and helps to make sense of human experience, and the way it binds communities together. There are those sacred moments during or after a performance, where everyone in the room is caught up in the same emotion – it’s an incredible privilege to create and be a part of those moments.”

Sarah says she was delighted to conduct the Australian premiere of Fanny Hensel’s (sister of the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn) Oratorio on Words of the Bible a few years ago.

“Ironically, it was written in response to a global pandemic! We had three choirs, 200 voices and a full orchestra on stage, it was absolutely thrilling.”

Today, Sarah juggles her time between conducting two choirs, relief or short-term work with other groups, teaching piano, accompanying soloists, church services and music groups.

“As a freelancer, a lot of my time is spent doing administrative work, maintaining networks, professional development and preparing or practising music outside of rehearsal time.”

She admits music is her work and her hobby, which is a blessing and a curse.

“It’s incredible to have a job that doesn’t feel like work because it’s so much fun, but it’s also really difficult to draw boundaries around your work. I’ve just started doing beginner art classes, which I’m hoping will become my true hobby!”

She reminisces about school, saying it taught her the discipline and study skills needed to pursue opportunities after graduation.

“There are so many more life lessons to be learned in the freedom of the years after school as well.”

She says students going through school today need to prepare to be flexible.

“Life throws some amazing and unexpected opportunities your way sometimes, watch out for them and be bold taking them when they come your way.”

Sarah’s choirs are always welcoming more singers! The Perth Undergraduate Choral Society rehearses at UWA or the Barnabas Singers in West Leederville