Search by area of study

Singing From The Same Songsheet

20 June 2024

SAE Creative Media Institute (SAE) is proud to announce a new partnership with Songwriting Charitable Trust Play It Strange, uniting two organisations dedicated to nurturing the next generation of songwriters and musicians.

Founded in 2003 by the renowned musician Mike Chunn (Split Enz, Citizen Band), Play It Strange champions songwriting for Secondary School-aged students through its array of programmes and competitions. In their 20 years of operation, over 7,000 songs have been written and entered in their songwriting competitions, and Play It Strange has provided more than 1,000 recording sessions for young songwriters, providing each of them with a studio recording experience.

This year, SAE stepped into Songwriting at the tertiary level, with a new Diploma in Songwriting and Musicianship and a Bachelor of Songwriting. It’s the ideal pathway for Play It Strange participants to further their studies and forge a career in the music industry. 

“The partnership between SAE and Play It Strange is a natural alignment”, explains SAE Director Dr Suzette Major. “Collaboration is powerful – not only does this new Memorandum of Understanding enhance the visibility of our respective programmes, it also highlights the value of working together for the benefit of songwriting students and the music  industry”.

Play It Strange CEO Stephanie Brown agrees. “SAE has opened their doors to Play It Strange and our talented finalists. Many of these emerging musicians are looking at where they can go next to develop their skills, so a partnership with SAE is a natural fit. We look forward to working closely with them across our programmes and events”.

Second and third-year SAE students will also have the opportunity to work at Play It Strange events through SAE’s Work Integrated Learning programme, in which students log hours in industry that count towards their degree. 

“This partnership shows that we are ‘singing from the same songsheet’, as the saying goes” says Stephanie. “It marks an exciting moment for SAE, Play It Strange and more broadly, emerging songwriters throughout Aotearoa New Zealand”. 

About SAE  

SAE Creative Media Institute (SAE) is the place for creatives and innovators. Since 1976 we’ve been the leaders in creative media education. Every year, we support students globally to develop the skills and experience needed to carve successful creative careers. Students enjoy access to the latest technology and are taught by industry-experienced faculty, while putting their skills to the test in small class environments. Our graduates become part of a highly-respected global community of creatives. In New Zealand, the SAE campus is based in Parnell, Auckland, which offers diplomas and degrees in audio, music production and film. SAE Auckland has been rated by NZQA as a Category 1 provider – the highest possible rating for a tertiary institute. SAE is a part of Navitas Pty Ltd. More information about SAE Auckland is available at

About Play It Strange

Play it Strange was established in 2003 by co-founders Mike Chunn of Split Enz and Bill Moran, COO of New Zealand Treasury at the time. Our purpose is to provide an outlet for creative expression for secondary school aged students in Aotearoa. We run annual national songwriting competitions, with finalists awarded a day in a recording studio to professionally record their songs. Play it Strange then mentors students and helps provide them with performance opportunities to launch their career. Our alumni list includes Kimbra, Georgia Nott of Broods, Liz Stokes of The Beths, Annah Mac, Louis Baker, and CHAII. While many alumni have turned that passion into full-time music careers, we hear inspiring stories every day from past alumni who now have careers as music teachers, in music therapy, and even teaching music in prisons. ImpactLab recently calculated our tangible social return, stating Play It Strange increases specialised skills, improves mental health, increases creativity, and increases confidence. ImpactLab calculates the social value for each participant generated to be $1273, and that every year, Play It Strange delivers $619,926 of measurable good to New Zealand society.

For more information: 

Dave Johnston

Industry Liaison and Career Advisor

SAE Auckland

Phone: (09)3734712

Email: [email protected]