Musicians in the making take out state singing competition

By Ed McLeish

Two Notre Dame students are musicians in the making after taking out awards at the Annual Kool Skools Awards at the Thornbury Theatre.

Ava Raditsas, 14, won the Best Pop Track award for her song Discovering, while Molly Gordon, 17, took out the Best Acoustic Track (Female).

Both students wrote their music and lyrics. They auditioned at Notre Dame, then after getting their songs approved, recorded their tracks at Studio 52 in Collingwood.

Ava has been playing the piano for five years, while writing songs for four years. She got nominated for the Kool Skools program last year, but this year took out a prize.

Ava said she was “shook” when she won the award, as she was not expecting it.

“I just entered the competition because I love the process of recording,” she said.

“I wasn’t able to make the awards ceremony and I didn’t really think my song would win anything.”

Kool Skools is a recording and multimedia project for secondary level students across Victoria, and has nearly been running for three decades.

The awards were held at the Thornbury Theatre on December 5, where 18 young artists performed live.

Ava said she wrote about how she felt about society, the state of the world and discovering her identity.

“Music gives me more confidence in myself and helps me discover myself,” she said.

Ava Raditsas, 14, won the Best Pop Track award for her song Discovering, while Molly Gordon, 17, took out the Best Acoustic Track (Female).

Ava’s connection with the piano came from the support of her mother, Nicole Florence, who bought her a keyboard. Ava would practise in groups with other students and eventually by herself.

“It got a bit harder — I stopped playing for a bit, but then I came back to it. It just gets a bit hard sometimes,” she said.

“Lots of practice makes [playing music] better, playing music is just the best.

“It makes you happy and feel better all the time.”

When she won the Kool Skool award, Ava received a phone call from her mother and said she was “really happy and excited”.

“Mum was really happy for me and my whole family was,” she said.

Ava said she would continue studying music throughout the rest of her schooling, but if her piano dream did not work out, she wanted to be a psychologist.

Molly, 17, has already started year 12.

“I’ve got so much homework,” she said with a laugh.

“I’ve been singing since I could talk.”

Over the years, Molly has added other instruments to her repertoire — she picked up the piano in year five and started learning guitar in year seven.

“I’ve sort of given up on piano for now and like busking with my guitar,” Molly said.

As Molly enters her final year of schooling, she will combine her passion and work ethic by studying Music Performance.

“It’s my hardest subject, but the one I’ll probably most enjoy,” she said.

“Everyone tells you your music is good, but you always have those moments of self-doubt.”

Molly is no stranger to performing — most recently, she played at a ladies night at Bill and Beat's (in Mooroopna) and last year she played at three carols nights, in Mooroopna, Tatura and Murchison.

“It’s just me and the guitar, I try and get a little shaker going when I can,” she said with a laugh.

Molly was involved in the Kool Skools Competition back in year seven, and while she did not go through then, she has persisted through to get nominations and this year win the Best Acoustic Track (Female).

Molly said while she loved music, she wanted to get into medicine.

“I’m looking into getting into a bachelor of biomedical science,” she said.

“But music will help me a lot while I’m busking and trying to get through uni.”

“It’s a bit of money on the side and I love music as well.”

Ava and Molly had not met prior to the competition. In addition to not noticing each other among the 1600 Notre Dame students, they auditioned and recorded on different days.

But both girls said there was every possibility they would play and record together down the track.