Some of the state's top achievers will now be able to study music as a prelude to professional studies such as law, medicine and architecture under a revamped course structure at The University of Western Australia.
The new head of UWA's School of Music, Associate Professor Alan Lourens, said he was excited at the prospect of attracting high-calibre students from other disciplines. Some of the world's most brilliant people were also musical, including Albert Einstein (piano and violin), Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell (piano).
The University's new curriculum offers five undergraduate degrees followed by professional and other postgraduate opportunities, allowing students to take majors previously unavailable to them.
"The community can only benefit from the fact that the students who will become our doctors and lawyers will have a much broader range of experience and expertise," Dr Lourens said. "They will now have the time to develop that talent more fully before moving on to an area of specialisation.
"The benefits of music education to high school students are well documented: those who do music achieve better results in other areas of study than if they not involved in any music education.
"Something I passionately believe is that students who study music benefit from expressing another side to their emotions. We know this assists them in all the things we value in society. Music helps express the inexpressible and uses different parts of the brain.
"The inherent value of music is in helping us achieve something that enriches our lives or changes the way we see the world; that makes us act differently. I can't see how that won't benefit students who go on to do other things."
Dr Lourens said more than 60 students had already enrolled in music, although numbers were yet to be finalised.
A conductor, arranger and composer, Dr Lourens has held university and professorial positions in Singapore, Dubai and Australia at leading arts institutions. He has conducted orchestras and bands throughout Asia, Australia and the United States and performed on euphonium across four continents.
He is also active in the brass band movement in Australia as a conductor and soloist. In 2008, Dr Lourens was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK, in recognition of his contribution to the development of the arts internationally.
Dr Lourens regularly performs as an international soloist on euphonium, and has recorded and toured with ensembles including the Philharmonia à Vent, the Australian Wind Orchestra and the WA Symphony Orchestra.
The euphonium is a member of the low brass family of musical instruments that
encompasses the trombone, euphonium, and tuba. Dr Lourens plays a 1934 Elkhart Conn Double Belled Euphonium, which he bought from a fellow student at Indiana University in the US.