Miharo Gregor graduated from the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) in 2015 with a double degree in Contemporary Music and Audio Production. He grew up in Richmond, Christchurch as an only child of Māori, English and Scottish descent.
“Tainui is my iwi as my Dad is from Waikato, and my Mum is a Christchurch local,” he says.
“My parents signed me up for piano lessons when I was young and after finally freeing myself from doing them, I eventually ended up getting back into music during high school at Christchurch Boys High.”
Miharo began prepping for Jazz School while continuing to create music, playing at church, which led him to singing and taking vocal lessons.
He dreamt of becoming a music producer and running his own recording studio, but needed the technical knowledge and skills required to communicate with musicians.
“A guidance councillor at my school suggested a double degree that developed those exact skills down at Invercargill’s Southern Institute of Technology.”
After completing his NCEA and a MAINZ introductory course, Miharo enrolled at SIT and made his way to Invercargill to complete his studies.
“I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to expect, but I ended up in a really great year of students and the tutors during my study years were experts in their field,” he says.
“I had some really knowledgeable and inspiring teachers during my time at SIT.
“It always helps when they are actively involved in what they are teaching, and their involvement is recognised nationally and internationally.
Miharo rated the facilities at SIT as some of the best in the country.
“The facilities are pretty awesome there too once you know how to use everything properly.
“The audio facilities especially are a bit of a hidden gem in New Zealand.”
Part of the audio degree included spending time in Byron Bay for three months to study at the SAE there, with Miharo saying this time was a real highlight of his studies.
“Some of the best months of my life and definitely made me appreciate the sun after some of the colder Invercargill nights.”
Due to the zero fees scheme, he found students came to study the programme from all over the country, which meant meeting new class mates who held different outlooks on life.
“I benefitted from my class mates (and even teachers doing music out in the real world) a great deal,” he says.
“I would encourage new music and audio students to make friends, make bands, make albums, put on your own gigs, house gigs and even festivals.
“By doing and watching this kind of stuff, I learnt how to deal with band mates, schedules, venue owners, bar managers, other bands, backline suppliers, promoters, audio engineers, budgets, different instrument requirements, travel, alcohol, money, how to practice, how to prep for a show, gear, sound checks, radio stations, angry bar owners, how to talk to drunk punters, how to talk to sober punters, how to play to an empty room, how to play to a full room, how to record, how to design a poster, how not to design a poster, what to do with your hands in a photoshoot, what not to eat on tour, what to take on a tour, how to sleep anywhere, how to set up and pack down a PA, how to tetris pack a van/car/bus, how to answer questions in an interview and many more valuable lessons that I wouldn’t have learnt if I didn’t get involved outside the classroom.”
Although the double degree is a lot of work, Miharo says it is worth it.
“There’s really no point in doing the degrees unless you’re there to learn and soak up every bit of experience and knowledge that they have to offer.
Probably the most important thing to do is meet people, and work on yourself as a person. People like good players and engineers, but if you’re someone that people want to be around then the jobs should come easily. Knowing people and helping them out led me to the bands I play in today.”
During the day, Miharo works at Weta Digital, but also plays the keyboard around the Wellington music scene.
“I think it’s good not to have too rigid a plan in the music industry,” he says.
“I’m still learning myself and have a lot of things to work on, but being super focussed on a particular outcome can cause you to miss all the peripheral opportunities. In my experience anyway.”