Schools Program

Program Administrator

Vicki Harris

Schools Program Administrator, Clarinet/Saxophone Teacher, Conductor (School Bands)

With over 30 years music teaching experience, Central Coast Conservatorium of Music’s Schools Program Administrator and Woodwind tutor, Vicki Harris, is passionate about giving as many children as possible the opportunity to learn an instrument.

She teaches saxophone, clarinet and flute and also conducts several school bands through the Conservatorium’s Schools Music Program.

“I believe in giving everyone a go and my goal as a music educator is to make learning an instrument affordable and available for anyone who wants it, to offer a high standard of music tuition always and of course to make learning an instrument fun and rewarding” says Vicki.

Starting out on piano when she was eight, Vicki went on to study saxophone, flute and clarinet during high school and beyond. She then graduated with an Associate Diploma of Music Teaching from Sydney Conservatorium of Music before running a very successful private music studio.

“I believe I have an excellent rapport with students, particularly primary school aged children but have successfully taught students of all ages and abilities,” she says.

Vicki has also worked as a private music tutor in a number of school music programs in both Sydney and on the Central Coast and in both private and public

She has worked for the Conservatorium’s Schools Program since 2017, conducting primary school bands and teaching woodwind groups and one-to-one lessons. She took on the role of Schools Program Administrator in 2019 and now oversees the
program while continuing to work as a conductor and woodwind tutor.

Brendan Berlach

Saxophone Teacher, Conductor (School Bands)

With over 20 years teaching and performing, Brendan draws on this depth of experience to connect with each unique student. He has performed jazz in the Sydney Opera House, and on TV for the Aria awards, studied jazz at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and strives to pass on the inspiration to his pupils.

Brendan has also been on the tutoring staff at The Scots College for 8 years, conducting bands and private tuition for the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music since 2016, and still regularly performs throughout the region in diverse ensembles.

David Markham

Brass Teacher

David started teaching when he was 15 mentoring young brass students from beginner to advanced. He served for 8 years in the RAAF as a professional musician. David has won numerous state and national solo
competitions over the years and currently performs with Central Coast Brass, Mariners Brass Band and Symphony Central Coast.

David believes in using his extensive knowledge and years of experience to help students become the best they’re capable of.

Joanne Arnott

Woodwind Teacher/Band Conductor

Like many young children, Central Coast Conservatorium of Music woodwind teacher and Schools Program Band Conductor  Joanne Arnott’s first music performance experience came when she joined her school’s recorder club. No sooner had she mastered the recorder, Jo then picked up the clarinet – firmly cementing her love of all things woodwind.

While proving herself adept at playing a wide variety of woodwind instruments, it is the recorder which has always held a special place in Joanne’s heart.

She went on to gain both her A.Mus.A and L.Mus.A in recorder – AMEB diplomas awarded by examination to outstanding candidates in the fields of musical performance and music theory – and a first class honours Bachelor of Music Performance and Master of Music Performance from Sydney Conservatorium.

A founding member of The Australian Recorder Project, Joanne has taught recorder, clarinet and flute for 20 years and saxophone for eight. With a love of medieval and baroque music, Jo also tutors at early music workshops and has performed extensively with early music ensembles as a recorder player.

Joanne said it is her dream to build an early music ensemble and recorder consort at the CCCM, and is excited to be starting this initiative as part of the Schools Program this year. 

“I love medieval and baroque music, as I find it mesmerising and calming both to listen to and to play. The florid ornamentation of the late baroque period is particularly stunning and rewarding to play.”

An enthusiastic music teacher, Joanne said she is passionate about creating a rewarding learning environment and instilling confidence in her students.

“I love to inspire students to learn and feel excited and passionate about music, and to help create a community in which music is an integral part of everyday life.”

Kevin Smith

Clarinet & Saxophone Teacher, Conductor (PWE & School Bands)

Kevin Smith is a clarinet and saxophone teacher who studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Elizabeth Lim and has performed and toured extensively with youth orchestras and chamber ensembles both regional and internationally including the Sydney Youth Orchestra, Knox Abbotsleigh Youth Orchestra and the Sydney Youth Orchestra Philharmonic. 

Kevin accompanied the Sydney Youth Orchestra Philharmonic on their regional tour in 2008 as soloist, performing the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto culminating in a performance of the work at the Sydney Opera House.

Phillip Rutherford

Head of Program (Musicianship), Brass Teacher, Conductor (CCPWE, School Bands), Musicianship Teacher

Phillip received his PhD and Masters in Music (Composition) at Sydney Conservatorium, and received his Bachelor of Music at Newcastle Conservatorium.

He works as Head of Musicianship, teaching all aspects of Music Theory, history and composition, and has written a series of books as a new Musicianship course, The Poco Musician.

As a performer and conductor Phillip is currently in charge of the Primary Wind Ensemble (‘Superband’) and has previously been Musical Director of Gosford City Brass Band and Central Coast Youth Band, and has performed in the Central Coast Symphony Orchestra, Central Coast Brass, Gosford City Brass Band and Waratah Brass.

E-Yang Liu

Brass Teacher

E-Yang studied Composition at the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he developed an interest in conducting and teaching. He studied phrase style conducting through the Australian Band and Orchestra Directors Association (ABODA) Professional Development course with its maestro, Jerry Nowak, eventually becoming an instructor on the course.

Nicole Wyatt

Flute Teacher

Nicole has been teaching flute since 2000 and has taught privately and worked with flute and choral ensembles at schools such as Loreto Normanhurst, International Grammar School, Rouse Hill Anglican College and Toongabbie Christian School. Nicole has taught classroom music at Norwest Christian College and the American International School. Nicole has also worked as a conductor with the Australian Youth Choir and as a Music Director at Norwest Anglican Church.

Rosalie Bourne

Head of Woodwind, Flute Teacher

Central Coast Conservatorium flute teacher Rosalie Bourne credits her first music teacher – and listening to her grandmother play classical pieces on the piano – with igniting her passion for music.

“I began to play the flute when I was seven and my wonderful teacher, Nicola Snekker, developed my musicality as well as my skill as a flute player,” says Rosalie, who plays many instruments but says her ‘first love’ is the flute.

“She encouraged and challenged me and was instrumental in my decision to further my studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.”

No wonder then that now, as a highly-respected flute player and teacher, Rosalie enjoys nurturing and developing her own students.

“Whether they are beginners picking up their flute for the very first time or much more experienced players, it is the students that make me want to come to work each day.”

While there have been many highlights during her music career Rosalie says “the most rewarding have been the achievements of my students and sharing in their and their families’ happiness as they celebrate”.

Rosalie brings broad-ranging skills and experience to the classroom, with years also spent working in the corporate sector as an HR consultant for companies including IBM, Ilco Unican and NSW Department of Commerce. 

She has also owned and operated her own flute studio and performed with a number of orchestras and played for several audio productions. Recent recordings include Random Earth Band’s album Ocean Song and Christoper Sainsbury’s 2016 Scar Tree for Primal Dance Company. 

Rosalie has worked as both a classroom music teacher and flute tutor teacher in public and private primary and high schools across Sydney and the Central Coast. Now in a senior teaching role at the Central Coast Conservatorium, Rosalie gives private lessons as well as teaching with the Conservatorium’s Schools Program and developing flute ensembles

She says her primary aim at the Conservatorium is to help students develop and achieve their own goals as flute players. “For those who choose to do so, I know I can assist them gain outstanding results in their grade exams,” says Rosalie, adding that past students have achieved top results in trial and HSC music performances (Music 1, Music 2 and Extension). 

“They have also been successful in gaining entry into tertiary music courses, have been selected for student development opportunities with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Staatskapelle Berlin (the resident orchestra of the Berlin State Opera).”

About Rosalie

An active and committed member of the Australian flute community Rosalie completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has studied with Suzie Miller, Michael Scott, James Kortum and Janet Webb, as well as participating in masterclasses with many international artists.

Rosalie has written several technique publications including Grow Your Technique for all band instruments – a NSW Department of Education cross-curricular technique extension for Stages 2-3 Band Program students.

She also founded the Central Coast Summer Flutation Event (2015-2018) and has helped manage the Australian Flute Festival (2013, 2015). Rosalie has also been invited to be an adjudicator at the NSW Flute Society Eisteddfod and guest teacher and masterclass presenter at Sydney Flute School.

Sean Steele

Percussion Teacher

Sean completed his Bachelor of Music with an Honours in Performance Major studying under Steven Morton at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music and Daryl Pratt at Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In 2003 he gained his Graduate Diploma in Education through the University of New England. 

Sean regularly performs many orchestral percussion, Latin percussion, drum kit, and

Japanese Taiko Drumming gigs and shows from club gigs to corporate and school events. He currently teaches percussion at several Central Coast and Sydney schools as well as Central Coast Conservatorium. 

Sharon Hatton

Piano Teacher

As a child listening to Rachmaninov in bed on a radio she had smuggled under her pillow, Sharon Hatton fell asleep to the composer’s third piano concerto – one of the most difficult pieces ever written for piano.

“This will sound a bit of a cliché, but I absolutely love the Rach 3, even before it was featured in the movie Shine,” says Central Coast Conservatorium piano teacher Sharon.

“I would fall asleep listening to the radio and the Rach 3 came on one night. Why anyone would play that at night is beyond my comprehension, but that was amazing to a young little me.”

Born and raised in Singapore, Sharon’s home was filled with music. “My parents were session and wedding musicians, and so there was always singing and music making around in the household, even after they stopped professionally. My dad had vinyl records of the London Symphony Orchestra as well so that’s where my love for classical music began.”

She started piano lessons aged five by a preschool teacher who heard Sharon playing tunes on the classroom piano by ear.

“She offered me a free year of lessons if my parents bought me a piano, which they did.” 

After completing her AMus from the London College of Music at 18, Sharon went on to complete a Bachelor of Music from University of New England.

“I look back and I am ever grateful that I had amazing piano teachers along the way,” says Sharon who realised early on in her musical career that her heart lay in teaching music and piano to young children.

“I enjoyed performing, but it was never as exciting as teaching for me,” she says.

This realisation was cemented after attending a workshop on the Dalcroze method – a pedagogical approach to music taught through physical movement by Dr Joan Pope OAM – former President of Dalcroze Australia.

“That truly opened up the world of music and movement, and learning to lay the foundation in teaching young children.” 

In Singapore, Sharon planned and taught a keyboard curriculum for Years 1 to 6 as a pilot program in a neighbourhood primary school.

“It was a real honor, knowing that every single student in that school was not just receiving a general music lesson, but being taught to play an actual instrument. I hope that opened up musical doors for some of those primary school children and that they went on to use that to explore and learn more music.”

Sharon says she believes it is the right of every child to learn music properly and formerly, as part of their emotional and social growth and development. “I don’t think music education should be a privilege.”

Her favourite part of her job at the Con is walking through the halls and hearing music playing from every room. “The Con is an exciting place for students to explore music and be offered various opportunities to perform and gain scholarships.”

When it comes to lessons, Sharon stresses the importance of planning and fun. “I’ve always given great thought to lesson planning, in choosing repertoire for my students, and also various aspects of developing piano technique in a fun and enjoyable way.

“My goal is to instil a lifelong love for learning music in each of my students, so that they always continue to play piano and make music throughout their lives. I always enjoyed my lessons with my teachers, and I gain so much joy in music. I hope all my students feel the same.”


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.

Amanda Elkington

Strings Teacher,

Amanda has played in numerous orchestras on the Central Coast and in Newcastle. She has taught in various schools in Sydney and the Central Coast, and has over 10 years teaching experience. Amanda currently teaches at Central Coast Grammar School.

Amanda studied with Noelene Cantle, Elizabeth Hollowell and Janette Davies.

Diploma of Music – Newcastle Conservatorium 1996

Emma Townsend

Violin Teacher, Music Therapist

As a registered music therapist, violinist and chamber musician with a background in early childhood education, Emma Townsend is well-placed to understand the needs of young music students and how to nurture their talents.

“My studies in music therapy and early childhood education have given me a greater understanding of the emotional world of children. This has made me better at adapting to the client/student and their needs as well as building greater connections with students and clients,” said Emma, who is the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music’s Head of Music Therapy and violin tutor.

Heather Hinrichs

Cello Teacher & Adult Strings Ensemble

It was Heather Hinrichs’ music teacher who suggested that she start learning the cello. “Little did I know then that it was my lucky day because my first cello teacher was a cellist whose teachers were acclaimed American cellists Louis Potter and Leonard Rose. I totally fell in love with the instrument and the rest is history!”

Today Heather works in the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music’s Strings Department.  In addition to teaching, Heather is an avid orchestral and chamber musician and has played in musicals, operas, ballets and on recordings.

“My favourite piece is Barber’s Cello Sonata because of its intoxicating melodies, intense drama and intricate conversation between cello and piano,” says Heather, also citing performances of the Barber and Fanny Mendelssohn String Quartets as some of her performing career highlights.

Well-versed in solo and orchestral repertoire, Heather also has particular interests in effective practice methods, performance preparation and has an unwavering desire to bring music to life.

“I enjoy passing on all I have learned to help students become better cellists. I love seeing the growth that students experience when they realise what they are truly capable of, the joy that music can bring and that music is so much more than notes on a page.”

“My hope for my students is that they experience the joy of expressing themselves through music and realise that overcoming challenges is actually a fascinating and essential part of the musical journey for anyone with aspirations of improving their playing.”

About Heather

Heather’s musical training has been extensive, having studied Cello Performance at Northwestern University (USA), The Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy (USA). Additionally, she won places to participate in several intensive programs specialising in orchestral and chamber music, such as Meadowmount School of Music, Interlochen Arts Camp, Kent Blossom Music Festival and more.  Heather is a freelancer, regularly plays with the Central Coast’s performing ensembles Concertante Ensemble and Symphony Central Coast and enjoys teaching cello to students from school age through to adults.

Karina Moss-Hollands

Head of Program (Strings), Violin Teacher

Karina Moss-Hollands is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and completed her Master of Music Degree majoring in violin performance and teaching. She is principal violinist and artistic director of Concertante Ensemble, the Central Coast’s own chamber orchestra. 

She is currently our Head of Programme – Strings and the Concertmaster of Symphony Central Coast.