“I wish I had something like this in my day.”
They were the words of esteemed singer-songwriter Kevin Bennett, as he helped budding musician Matilda Sommers pen together a song in Tamworth on Monday.
Mr Bennett is among a handful of stars tutoring young hopefuls at the two-week-long CMAA Academy of Country Music ahead of the Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF).
The young musicians, aged 16 and over, are halfway through their 14-day residential singer/performer/songwriter course at Calrossy.
Ms Sommers said the academy was an amazing opportunity to learn from accomplished musicians to help further their own careers in the industry.
The 27-year-old first picked first picked up the banjo at the age of eight.
After playing in a family band while growing up in Dorrigo, she made the decision to enroll in her first academy to reinvigorate her love of country music.
“It’s been awesome,” Ms Sommers said of the experience.
“I’ve been meaning to do this for years because I haven’t played for a long time, so thought it’d be an awesome opportunity to get back into it.”
Joining her as a student is 18-year-old Juliet Oliver, from South Australia.
It’s her third time at the academy, but her first as a senior.
“It’s so good, we’re learning everything from songwriting to chord charts,” she said.
“The best part is the people you meet, the contacts you can make.
“It’s good to be able to learn from the best and trains you well to get a foot in the door.”
The teaching student hopes the experience can set her up for a career in the music industry.
Tyler Paterson, 17, also returned to Tamworth from South Australia for her second stint at the academy, and was excited to meet Academy of Country Music director Lyn Bowtell.
The academy continues into the lead-up to TCMF.
Among the highlights for students at the academy is the chance to jam with Kasey Chambers on Wednesday night.