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‘I’m Living a Dream’: How This Music Composer and Teacher Inspires the Next Generation

Teaching the next generation while chasing her own dreams, Chiara Costanza is proving how teachers can walk the walk

Chiara Costanza

Chiara Costanza’s list of talents is very long.

A classically trained pianist turned electronic DJ, she’s done everything from composing the original soundtracks for Netflix series Heartbreak High and Stan Original Series Totally Completely Fine to sound design for countless films, commercials, dance companies and live performances. Oh, and did we mention she teaches too? 

On top of a stacked roster of creative projects, Chiara is equally as passionate about teaching her students at JMC Academy. Her lectures are more than academic exercises – they’re infused with real-world insights, drawing from her extensive experience in composing and DJing. 

This is how Chiara balances it all and inspires the next generation to go after their dreams, just like she did. 

From Artist to Mentor 

You’ve probably heard of the old fallacy: “those who can’t do, teach.” It’s safe to say, the phrase is completely incorrect. In the modern era, the best teachers are multi-faceted and often bring their many talents and interests into lessons. Chiara is proof that being a great teacher doesn’t mean giving up your craft. In fact, practising what she preaches only adds to her impact on students. 

For Chiara, teaching is one of many creative outlets. She’s an expert in the balancing act of being there for her students, while still pursuing her own composing and DJ projects. This allows her to take what she learns from the real world and bring it back to her students, giving them industry exposure that’s hard to find. 

Her students love it too. “My students are like ‘Oh my God, you did ‘Heartbreak High’,'” Chiara says. “I’m collaborating with some of the best people in the industry. It’s important to me to transfer this passion and this obsession to the students, because I’m doing this now as well,” she says. 

Never Stop Learning

For Chiara, teaching is more than a profession – it’s a channel to give back to the community that helped shape her. She explains it as a continuous cycle of learning from those you teach and those who have teached you. According to Chiara, that’s the beauty of the industry. 

“I wouldn’t do this job if it wasn’t for my teachers,” she says, speaking about her past educators, from her first childhood piano teacher in Italy to the people she met at Melbourne’s RMIT. “The stuff that I’ve absorbed from them, it’s made me know this is what I want to do. And it’s changed my life to a place where I never thought that I would be.”

It’s important to find teachers beyond the classroom too. “When I think of teachers, it’s [also] artists and people that have influenced me in my life. I’ve watched their YouTube interviews, read their books, and listened to their music. They’re my teachers as well,” she says. 

Leaving a Legacy 

If it weren’t for a certain teacher at RMIT, Darren Verhagen, Chiara may have never ended up on this path. Proving the power of a great teacher, he helped her pursue her passion for music at a crucial time in her life. 

“He’s probably the most influential teacher for me,” she says. “He had this sound design subject and gave me all these creative, amazing, different ways to think about how to make music for ads and animation. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.” 

For Chiara, this one teacher left a lasting legacy and inspired her to go on and become that teacher for future students. “I want to be that person for other people, you know, so that maybe I can change that path [and] they can do what they love and not have to settle.” 

It makes sense then, that when asked about a “memento” she holds close in her own classroom, Chiara explains it not as a tangible object, but the reflective joy and satisfaction of seeing her students thrive. It’s a feeling. “It’s the reward that you get from students, [when] at the end of a lecture they feel like they’re inspired.”

“You feel like you had a little part in changing their life.” In Chiara’s classroom, students find a mentor, an artist, and a bridge to the world of professional music and sound design.