Joel Paszkowski – Class of 2009
Joel is one of our Old Flinderians from the Class of 2009. We are thrilled to see him reach great heights in his career as a writer for musical theatre, and we hope he feels our College community’s support. Joel is a wonderful role model for our current students as he demonstrates persistence, confidence and resilience as he develops his skills and career profile. In September 2018, Joel was accepted into one of the world’s leading centres for the performing arts, the Tisch in New York City, to study his masters in writing for musical theatre. He is one of 30 students worldwide to secure a place in the coveted program. Here he shares his happiest, most significant and most humbling moments from his schooling years at Flinders. We wish you great success Joel, and look forward to you staging one of your own brilliant musicals here at Flinders in our Performance Centre in the future!
What does life look for you now?
Since receiving the news that I will be studying in New York City this September, life has definitely shifted a gear because of the amount of things that need to be organised and done before then. That being said, because I’ll potentially be gone for more than two years, I’m taking the opportunity to fully appreciate the coast while I’ve got it, spending as much time as I can rock climbing with friends and spending time with family. All in all, it’s a mix of huge excitement to be studying and living in NYC, and appreciating what I’ve got for now. It’s pretty good.
What is your favourite Flinders moment?
There are many. But because I have to pick one moment, it was the day I chose to sing ‘People Get Ready’ in front of the whole school at assembly with a few other singers from my year, and I totally blew it. It was woeful, the epitome of an embarrassing high school moment. I thought it would be a good idea to just not warm up or even speak before singing, so basically it was like to trying to sing immediately after waking up. Needless to say, I learned the value of preparation that day.
Do you have a particular role model or inspirational figure from Flinders or now?
Yes, Mr John Thomas for the way he would run the concert band. He conducted with such passion and care, and expected the same behaviour in return from us as musicians. He would use these great analogies to describe the music and how it should sound, often to do with food, like custard or thick honey, which always ‘stuck’ with me. He treated us like professionals, and I feel it was this that prompted me to want to act like a professional. His attention to detail and respect of the music instilled in me the same, and now I take it all with me to every new music project I’m a part of. Also a special mention should be given to Nick Campbell, who taught me the most of what I know about music. Despite the way I may have behaved in high school, his ability to teach and breadth of knowledge instilled in me a great respect for him.
How easy was it to decide what to do in life?
I was really lucky in that I’d figured out what I wanted to do pretty early on. It seemed obvious because it was what I was best at and what I liked doing the most.
Did your further study or career go exactly as you’d planned?
No. I had bizarre delusions of grandeur and thought I’d rapidly rise to success as a performer. But after I finished my degree in performing at Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), I had a better idea as to what that would involve, and also realised I was wasting my time trying to be a performer when my passion is writing for musical theatre.
What advice do you have for current students?
Enjoy school while you can, because it’s pretty great. Also the teachers are just people too, they can make your life a lot easier if you try make theirs a bit easier. I also highly encourage gap years and travel. There’s a big world out there!