Well, you’re about to, because I (Zara, Founder, Heart And Soul & Head Music Wiz at SoundCheck) am about to introduce you to me! More specifically, what led me to create SoundCheck Studios and turn it into the amazing community it is today.
Are you ready?...
Let’s go back to the beginning (the very beginning), as I hear it’s a very good place to start (Sound Of Music reference, anyone?).
I’ve been singing for, well, pretty much since I flew out the womb! I’ve always had a melody coming out of me, so I was busting to get into music lessons as soon as I could. But when I got into lessons, I couldn’t find a consistent teacher. From memory, I can count having at least six or seven different coaches from the ages of seven to 18. I really struggled to find that one person I could connect with and that would understand my voice for what it was, rather than pushing it into a musical box it just would never fit in.
Now, I look back on my singing development and I’m grateful for that journey. Having so many different teachers allowed me to shape my own view on music, which was the basis for founding SoundCheck Studios in 2020.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ve still got a whole lot more to cover until we get to SoundCheck!
When I was nine (yes, NINE years old!), I got the role of Amaryllis in The Music Man with BLOC, my very first amateur musical theatre production. I LOVED musical theatre and I continued performing in productions all throughout my schooling (including Les Miserables in 2009, where we won the award for Best Production in Victoria!).
I also competed in a ton of local singing competitions like Royal South Street Society, and walked away with a few shiny things!
When I was 16, I finally started singing professionally at weddings, pubs, farmers markets... if there was a mic, I was there! I even tried busking for a while and LOVED the experience, especially how it taught me about being vulnerable in front of a crowd. A highlight for me was performing with Harrison Craig and John Foreman in Melbourne. I mean, how cool is that??
When I was 17, I flew to Sydney from little old Ballarat on my lonesome, because I was invited to participate in an Artist Development Bootcamp with JMA Entertainment. I worked with amazing mentors like Stan Walker, Maurice June, Angel Tupai, Vince Harder and Turanga Merito. I gained such an in-depth knowledge on the industry itself and this was a huge motivator for me to continue my musical journey. I even got invited to come back and be a mentor on this same camp, years later!
In Year 12, I scored the lead role of Sandy in Grease and studied FOUR performing arts VCE subjects (Music Performance, Music Industries, Drama & Theatre Studies). I basically lived in my schools performing arts building, walking away from school with great scores and a certificate IV in Music Industries.
After high school I wasted no time! I started contracting myself as a vocal coach under my own business, helping choral direct some school musicals with some solo/group lessons at primary schools thrown into the mix, until I found a permanent position at a local performing arts school. I started with maybe six students (some that I still teach to this day!), and after a couple years I found myself entirely booked out, five days a week! I taught there for four years and during those years I undertook a bunch more professional developments including the Estill Vocal Course in Melbourne.
Over those years, I really found my knack for teaching. I found that my empathetic approach to my lessons was something that a lot of my students hadn’t experienced with other teachers. I created a bond with each of my students that went SO far beyond the usual teacher-student relationship. I became the person my students turned to in their worst moments. That sense of comfort in their lessons really helped grow their confidence, not only on stage, but within themselves. Our lessons were their safe space, where they could have a vocal crack (or a cry) and feel no shame.
But then I got itching for a bit of change. After being a Ballarat-based girl for 23 years, I was dying to get out and see more of the world so I handed in my resignation, packed my car and hit the road.
Where was I going? Who knows! I certainly didn't, but I was ready for an adventure. In January 2020, I drove my little hatchback up the east coast of Australia to find my next experience. I stopped over in Sydney for a while and jumped in some recording studios, and then continued on my way where I found myself in sunny Gold Coast.
But we all know how 2020 had other plans, so after being settled in the Gold Coast for around three months, I lost all employment and drove the 18,0000kms (yikes!) back to Ballarat. I came back with no employment and no income, but that same passion for music was still burning inside me!
So, I started up Zoom lessons under my own business, “Zara Jarvis Vocal Coaching”, and once COVID allowed lessons to resume in person, I set up a little studio in my mum’s barn (if you’re one of the students that did lessons in my mums barn, you’re the real OG!).
There was something about owning my own business and having the creative freedom that I absolutely LOVED! Before I knew it, I was facing a full schedule again and at yet another crossroads. Do I just keep on keepin’ on with a full schedule and no room for growth? Or do I look at expanding this little business and continue taking enquiries?
(Spoiler alert: I chose the latter!).
I scouted out one of my good friends, Chloe, and asked her to join the team! After a bit of persuading, she said yes, and I began the hunt for a commercial space. This is where SoundCheck Studios was born and fast forward 12 months, here we are! We have three, almost-booked-out studios, a team of 11 paid staff and an insane (read: HUGE) community of well over 100 families. Not bad for a little COVID start up, don’t you think?
And if you're still reading this far, thank YOU! It was a smidge longer than expected, but I’m glad to have taken you on mine, and now SoundCheck’s, journey to what we are today.
If you’re a part of our community, thank you! I appreciate you and all the support you’ve shown this little dream of mine.
From the bottom of my ever grateful, ever musical heart,