Head of Program (Guitar), Guitar Teacher
Renowned guitar master Guy Strazz grew up in a musical family going back four generations and started playing guitar when he was eight.
Currently Head of Guitar at the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music, Guy has had an extensive career touring, recording, composing, and teaching. He enjoys many styles of music including intelligent pop, jazz, Latin, funk, rock, fusion, and classical.
He says highlights of his international touring career include performing to 15,000 spectators at Mumbai Cricket Stadium for Jazz Yatra Festival, playing with his Passion Fruit trio at Sydney Opera House and performing with Australian jazz singer Vince Jones at Sydney Domain.
“I have been fortunate to have had many exciting learning experiences and each one taught me to ‘dig deep’ into my skills,” says Guy.
While Guy has played with musical greats, and graced many international stages, he is also passionate about teaching music.
“There have been teachers in my family, so I guess it’s quite natural that I like teaching. At the end of the day, I like it when I see a student feeling happy to play music, whatever the standard. That’s the most important thing for me.”
A dedicated and experienced teacher, with deep knowledge and skill in multiple styles of music, Guy also studied ‘music and the brain’ as part of his PhD research. “This has helped deepen my understanding of learning processes and viewing each student as an individual experience.”
Many of Guy’s students have gone on to establish strong music careers with several gaining acceptance into music degrees at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, including Central Coast guitarist and Allen Family Scholarship winner Min Ahn. Others, such as Aaron Flower, have gone on to win the National Guitar Jazz Awards, while Wendy Anggerani and Luke Liang have worked with artists such as Guy Sebastian and Ronan Keating.
Guy teaches Harmony at Avondale University. He holds a PhD and a master’s degrees in music, as well as B. Mus and a Jazz Diploma.
Guy’s teachers in his early development include luminaries such as Australia’s George Golla, as well as Americans Mike Stern (ex-Miles Davis) and the legendary Pat Martino. His classical guitar teachers were John Della Torre and Greg Pickler.
Guy was a recipient of a Jazz APRA Award and two APRA nominations for composition; an AIR Nomination 2008 for Best Jazz Release; an Indie Acoustic Project USA Finalist 2006 for Best Global Beat Release; and an Australia Council Music Fellowship.
Mark is an internationally renowned session guitarist, performer and composer who has recorded and performed with artists including Whitney Houston, Jimmy Barnes Sting, Jenny Morris, Lou Reed, Jeff Beck, Faith Hill, The Australian Opera orchestra, The London Philharmonic.
Mark has taught at London’s The Guitar Institute and Brunel University, as well as The Australian Institute of Music (Sydney) and The Australian National University.
Mark’s instruments include the Dobro, Banjo, Mandolin, Dulcimer, Bazouki, Puerto Rican Cuatro. Mandolin, Ukulele and Cello.
Ash has a Bachelor of Music from the City College of New York and an Assoc. Dip. in Jazz Studies from Sydney Conservatorium. He was awarded Australia Council of The Arts grants to produce his own CD “Beautiful Open Spaces” and for study in New York, where he worked as a freelance bass player for 6 years.
Ash has worked with many of Australia’s leading jazz artists including James Morrison, Vince Jones, Dale Barlow and Bob Barnard. He has also backed mainstream artists such as Marina Pryor, Dave Hobson and Monica Trapaga.
Ashley is available for online lessons only.
Guitar Teacher, Director (Guitar Ensemble)
Self-taught guitarist, and Central Coast of Conservatorium guitar teacher and director of the Guitar Ensemble, Steve Smillie’s first professional gig was on the back of a truck aged 13 at a festival in the NSW south coast town of Kiama.
But it all started five years’ earlier when he was eight and heard country music legend Ron Sutton playing in his parents’ bus shed.
“My parents owned the local bus service. There was a group of local country musicians there and they hired a bus to take them out to the first Country Music Festival in Tamworth in 1972. They all had so much fun on the trip they ended up having regular get togethers in the bus shed. That’s where I heard Ron play. I was hooked straight away, playing guitar became my life’s passion.”
Unfortunately Ron died at a young age. In his memory Tamworth Country Music Festival started the Ron Sutton Memorial Award for best instrumentalist, which still runs today.
“I entered that competition and was lucky enough to win the award two years in a row when I was 14 and then 15,” says Steve.
Since then Steve has played in many bands, toured the east coast of Australia, Melbourne and Adelaide. He currently plays in the well-known duo Open Fire with Dani Kelleher – and the pair also perform with the six-piece band The Sounds of London – an Adele and Amy Winehouse show. Steve has also recorded three solo instrumental albums and two albums with his wife Kath Morrison on trumpet.
“I have been very lucky to have had many highlights over the years including winning the Ron Sutton award twice, to playing in the Sydney Opera House and simply when the audience enjoys the music that I play.” He has also accompanied many artists including Ian Moss (Cold Chisel), Daryl Braithwaite (Sherbet), Tim Freedman (The Whitlams) and Renee Geyer.
With industry experience spanning five decades, Steve has a broad taste in music, specialising in solo finger-style acoustic guitar as well as electric style, blues rock, reggae, country rock and funk. He also plays slide guitar, lap slide and dobro. As he says: “I love any style of music that is played from the heart and with skill.
Steve has been teaching since the early 90s and said his goal as a CCCM teacher includes sharing his passion for playing the guitar and hopefully inspiring students to play well.