Student Story – Jena Irene Asciutto – BA(Hons) Creative Songwriting

Jena Irene Asciutto has been studying with DIME ONLINE for 14 months as she wants to develop her songwriting, and have a long-term career in the music industry. She has always loved to sing but didn’t take it seriously until she started playing piano and began to write songs.

When I was 12, I joined a covers band and started collaborating and writing original music. It was a big step for me as all my musical experiences had been solo. I look back on those years and realise I was developing as a singer, songwriter and artist. I quickly went through genres! From EDM to Pop, Rock and Alternative!

Then American Idol happened. I went to the auditions in Detroit for fun and it was only after Hollywood week when they cut the contestants from 200 to around 30, did I realise that I was part of a National Singing Competition that was being televised around America!

The process provided me with media training, press awareness and work ethic. I met loads of people and learned about working with others and how to perform under pressure.
Getting to the final was a whirlwind, the 6 months I spent in LA really took it out of me. By the end, I was at the point where I didn’t know what I wanted anymore, I had to discover myself again, and not be the chick on a reality TV show who was good at singing other peoples’ songs.

Going back to Detroit now seems like destiny… when I got settled, I heard about this new music college that had opened downtown. When I visited I couldn’t believe how good it felt! It was like walking into the real music industry, I immediately felt like I belonged there.

That was November 2014, I was 18 and I had missed the start of the Fall semester. I was told about DIME ONLINE – I couldn’t believe it – I could study for a Bachelors Songwriting degree – online!
In America if you want to study music there are great Jazz and Classical programs but DIME ONLINE allows me my freedom. I am doing the 4 year, part-time course so I can develop my career from anywhere and still work on my degree. The program is focused on the modern music industry and I am learning about the real world. My studies are flexible enough for me to tour, do promotion, record in the studio and still study at the same time.


I love playing shows in Detroit. The music scene is varied and diverse. Techno originated here, Jazz is huge and Motown obviously lingers, but there is a really modern sound in the new Detroit artists. Musicians are finding their own sound and still respect the respect the legacy of others.

I am going on tour at the end of the year, and I’ll pack my 11” Mac Book Air. I already study on the road, at friend’s houses, café’s and even the beach! And soon I’ll be studying before and after sound checks and interviews, and on the long drives across the country! There was so much down time on the Idol tour, it was a bit boring, so I am pleased that I can fill that time doing constructive work that will enhance my songwriting skills and industry knowledge. Good grades and encouragement from industry leaders gives me confidence – it helps me believe that I can be a contender in the songwriting world.

DIME ONLINE tutors are open to new ideas and interested in niche genres and what is up and coming. The curriculum encourages you to think outside the box which is ultimately what you’ll need to do in this industry. You need to find your own originality.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not all easy! I find it challenging to write in some genres, like Country as writing happy chords and not being drawn to the dramatic and melancholy chords is hard. I have had to listen to artists that I never heard of before, and critique their styles and techniques. It has made me change the way I write and arrange songs. I still love the artists that inspire me – Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Ray and Frank Ocean for now, but I have also been influenced by The Killers, Incubus, Damien Rice, the Temper Trap Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, Fink and Starf**cker!

DIME has been so good for me that my tip to ANYONE that is thinking about it, its APPLY! If you don’t do it, you’ll never experience it, and if you never experience it you will miss out on building a career in music.