About Sarah J. Strachan
Passionate about composing for games and film, Sarah has been composing and producing her own music since the age of 15 and has been creating her own arrangements of video game and film music by ear since the age of 6.
From 2010 to 2014 she fronted her own band "Sarah Jean", and in 2014 she released her own album "Looking Over My Shoulder" for which she sang, performed keyboards and vocals, composed, arranged and co-produced. She performed on radio stations including 3MDR and at venues across Melbourne such as the John Curtin Band Room in Carlton, Sooki Lounge in Belgrave, On Top Bar in Fitzroy and more. From 2012 to 2016 Sarah also performed Hammond Organ in Made in Purple, the Melbourne Deep Purple Tribute band - playing all the rock organ parts of the late and great Jon Lord. She has also performed on keyboards in hills band the Skylarks, a Melbourne jazz/funk/soul/blues band with 9 players in total - including a brass section.
With a High Distinction (A+) in Grade 8 AMEB Classical Piano, Sarah has also studied a Diploma of Music Composition at Box Hill Tafe. In addition she studied a series of music composition units at the Australian Catholic University, where her strings quartet piece "Sunset Undertow", was performed by the Flinders Quartet.
Sarah has taught piano, guitar, bass, song writing and ukulele for 10 years at various schools including Mount Waverley North Primary School, the Patch Primary School, Heathmont College and Lakeside College (P-12) as well as privately from her home studio.
Interested in wellbeing, behaviour and differing learning styles, Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts(Psychology) from the Australian Catholic University. Within this degree Sarah studied a sequence of counselling units and worked in the mental health industry upon finishing her degree. This experience has given her an empathic approach to teaching her students and an understanding of difficulties that can affect learning (such as anxiety, depression, autism and home difficulties).
Most recently Sarah has studied film music with Monash lecturer and esteemed film composer Amy Bastow (http://www.amybastow.com/) and has written music for several short films including 'Animal Work', 'I Miss You' and a 'Go Fund Me Campaign' film for the Museum of Curiosities for Children.
From the age of 3 Sarah can remember listening to the likes of Warren Zevon, INXS, Midnight Oil and the Clash as her parents played their tapes (loud!) at home.
Her fascination with music grew when her parents bought her a Super Nintendo video game console for Christmas at age 5, and she fell in love with the music of David Wise (composer for Donkey Kong Country) and Koji Kondo (Yoshi's Island, Mario, the Legend of Zelda).
At age 6 her parents bought her a keyboard and she began learning these video game tunes, teaching herself by ear and performing her arrangements to family and friends.
It was some years before her parents could afford to find a piano teacher for Sarah, so at age 11 she found a beginners keyboard book and began teaching herself the basics of music.
At age 12 Sarah began receiving piano lessons at high school, and within 6 months was preparing to sit classical piano exams. She also joined the school orchestra and began performing at school recitals.
At age 14 Sarah began teaching herself guitar and joined the school rock band. At age 15 she formed her own rock covers band with school friends for which she led the band, sang and played guitar. They entered several School performance competitions and came 1st and 2nd each time. At this age Sarah also began composing her own lyrics and songs.
Sarah studied VCE Music. Throughout this class she studied classical piano and the basics of jazz guitar.
Upon leaving secondary school Sarah took a gap year where she took singing lessons, guitar lessons, piano lessons and practised writing her on songs. She then auditioned for Box Hill Institute and entered a Bachelor of Composition. As well as learning to compose for film during her Box Hill studies, Sarah also took classes in jazz piano and jazz group studies. She also joined a jazz/funk band called Rush of Colour for which she wrote the music and lyrics for, and performed keyboards.
In 2010 she left Rush of Colour to lead her own rock band, Sarah Jean. From 2010 to 2014 She performed with her band at venues across Melbourne such as the John Curtin Band Room in Carlton, Sooki Lounge in Belgrave, On Top Bar in Fitzroy and many more.
An independent learner of many interests - Sarah eventually felt that she wanted to study multiple disciplines. With a love for psychology and helping others, in 2011 she left Box Hill to instead study a Bachelor of Arts(Psychology) with two minors in music and counselling. Here she again studied composition units and connected with the music teacher at Australian Catholic University, Doctor Tim McKenry. In 2012 her strings quartet piece "Sunset Undertow" was performed by professional string group the Flinders Quartet. The recording was kept on file by ACU as an example for future students.
From 2012 to 2016 Sarah also performed Hammond Organ in Made in Purple, the Melbourne Deep Purple Tribute band - playing all the rock organ parts of the late and great Jon Lord. This included complex solos, fast riffs and loud, distorted tones. With this band she performed at Venues such as the Richmond Club Hotel, Musicland in Fawkner, the Trak in Toorak and more.
In 2014 Sarah released her own album "Looking Over My Shoulder" for which she sang, performed keyboards and vocals, composed, arranged and co-produced. She gigged this album across Melbourne city venues and gave interviews on radio stations such as 3MDR Emerald and Yarra Valley FM.
From 2016 to 2018 Sarah performed on keyboards in hills band the Skylarks, a Melbourne jazz/funk/soul/blues band with 9 players in total - including a brass section. The house band for the hills venue the Skylark Room in Upwey, Sarah performed 2-4 Sundays a month here as well as for weddings and formal occasions.
In 2017 Sarah returned to classical piano study to receive a High Distinction (A+) in Grade 8 AMEB Classical Piano -- a result very rarely awarded at such a high level.
In 2018 Sarah attended the very first Australian all-female Game Jam at the Arcade Melbourne - where all who attended worked in teams for two days on the creation of a video game. Sarah and her team produced "Whippytop's Pancake Peril", for which Sarah composed and produced the soundtrack and took on role of Producer.
In 2018 Sarah also began studying the finer points of film composition under Amy Bastow and has since been working of compositions for various short films and music projects.
Besides performing and composing, since 2007 Sarah has taught piano, guitar, bass, song writing and ukulele at various schools including the Patch Primary School, Mount Waverley North Primary School, Sound Foundations Music School, Andrea's School of Voice, Heathmont College, Lakeside College ad more -- as well as privately from her home studio. She has also run workshops on songwriting and composition at Mater Christi College's annual music camps.
Interested in wellbeing, behaviour and differing learning styles, Sarah has also worked in mental health for Mind Australia, Mentis Assist and Each Community Access Services. As a counsellor, she specialises in young people, anxiety, depression, trauma and home difficulties. This experience has given her an empathic approach to teaching her students and an understanding of difficulties that can affect learning (such as anxiety, depression, autism and home difficulties).
Summary of Qualifications:
Bachelor of Arts(Psychology), double minor in counselling and music
Australian Catholic University
Diploma of Music (Composition)
Box Hill Institute
Business Mentoring Program
Kate Moody, founder of Radiant Wellbeing
Grade 8 Classical Piano - High Distinction (A+)
Currently studying composition for film and TV under Amy Bastow.
Summary of Work Experience:
15 years' experience composing and songwriting
Produced, composed and performed on 2014 album "Looking Over My Shoulder"
SJS Music Productions
15 years' experience composing music and working in bands
Made In Purple - Deep Purple Tribute band, the Skylarks, and own work
12 years' experience teaching piano, guitar, bass, ukulele and song writing
SJS Music, Mount Waverley North P.S., The Patch P.S., Heathmont College, Lakeside College and more
4 years' experience working in mental health system with youth
Mind Australia, Mentis Assist, Each Community Access Services, self-employed counsellor, Glady and Co.
Sarah performing with "Made In Purple" - the Australian Deep Purple Band in 2016.
Poster for Sarah's album launch in 2014.
Sarah performing with the Skylarks in 2016.