Saia Hanlon: schooling the next generation of musicians

The Hanlon family are synonymous with the Gold Coast entertainment scene, with family members performing here since the 70’s and they are still gracing local and international stages to this day. The current generation of Hanlon’s includes Saia Hanlon, who you can catch playing drums live up to five times a week and devoting his time to building up the next generation of local musicians through Hanlon School of Music.

Following his brother Omar’s Musician of the Year win at the Gold Coast Music Awards earlier this year, we shot a few questions to Saia about the business of being a multigenerational musical family.

 

First of all, tell us about the Hanlon School of Music – when did it kick off, and what is its point of difference?

Hanlon School of Music Kicked off in 2017, we shut down for 1.5 years during covid and then relaunched in 2021. The point of difference is that we wanted to create a school that was like no other, one that was more like a creative hub.

The Hanlon Brothers won the Breakout Artist of the Year award at the first EVER Gold Coast Music Awards in 2015. Do you remember what that felt like?

The feeling was grateful to be acknowledged by fellow industry professionals.

You’ve then continued your relationship with the Gold Coast Music Awards family, performing and presenting at the awards, and now as sponsors. Tell us a bit about that relationship, and why you decided to come on board as sponsors?

We decided to come on board as sponsors as we believe in building culture & community within the Gold Coast Music Network. And to bridge the gap for HSM Students to get into the highest possible accomplishments on the Gold Coast.

On a scale of one to a thousand, exactly how proud of Omar were you, for his win this year?

Can we add more than 1000?

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about your family, your music or your school?

We are a Gold Coast family, born and bred right here. My parents moved from New Zealand in the ’70s and, like most immigrants, started in Sydney before moving to Burleigh. They came for music, and our family has been in the entertainment industry since the mid-to-late ’70s on the Gold Coast. As a Gold Coast family-owned business, I’m a solo dad with my baby and the Hanlon School of Music as my other baby. We’re a second-generation musician family, with my parents having moved here in the 1970s, and we’ve been playing music our whole lives.

My brothers and I have done various things professionally, playing in different groups and bands across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and even touring the world. We’re home now to give back to the younger generation of kids. Our school is unique because we wanted it to feel like a family, not like a sterile doctor’s office. We aim for an inviting atmosphere with friendly teachers, making the kids feel loved and part of a family. This sets us apart from other music schools.

I’ve been playing music since I was five years old, following in my father’s footsteps as a drummer. Today, my brothers and I are still playing music full time. I play three to five gigs a week on the Gold Coast while my brother tours with Amy Shark. At the school, our vision is to teach children and adults a way to express themselves. Music has been an anchor for me and others in my family struggling with mental health.

We teach students as young as five up to seniors, even 100-year-olds if they want to learn. I’ve handpicked our teachers based on their personalities and communication skills, ensuring they can meet each student’s needs effectively. This approach makes lessons more fulfilling, and students leave feeling like they’ve gained something valuable.

As a drummer since I was five, I’ve participated in numerous bands, won awards, and toured the world, playing in different arenas across Europe, America, and Asia. With my child, I wanted to be home more, so I founded this school to create a supportive environment for kids to learn and grow musically, just like I did.

The school’s setup allows parents to watch their child’s progress through windows in the lesson rooms. Students receive homework via PDFs sent to their email and hard copies for reference. While YouTube can be a helpful learning tool, it’s important to have a teacher who can critique and guide your progress for faster and more effective learning.

We’re grateful for the support from our community, and we thank everyone for supporting our local family business.”

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