Piano

CARL SCHMIDT

Head of Program (Piano), Curriculum Coordinator, Piano Teacher

Acclaimed pianist and Head of the Central Coast Conservatorium’s Piano Department, Carl Schmidt, has performed all around the world – from European palaces to the iconic Sydney Opera House. Concerts have ranged from intimate recitals for diplomats to grand choral masterpieces with full orchestra. 

In addition to his classical background, Carl enjoys listening to, and playing, music from many different genres. 

“Much like appetite changes, so does my musical mood. I have a very eclectic taste in music and on my commute up and down the freeway I can be listening to anything from Rachmaninoff concertos to Elton John,” says Carl.

In fact, it wasn’t until he was eight that Carl, who was born and raised on the NSW Central Coast, took to the piano after finding his mother’s old records of the Chopin Etudes. “My mum played the piano a bit, but both parents were not really musicians. My great grandmother however, apparently played piano for the old silent movies back in England,” he says.

It was always Carl’s childhood dream to study and perform in Europe, and after graduating with 1st class honours from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music he went on to complete a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of The Netherlands. He has also regularly appeared as soloist and member of various ensembles around the world and is an accomplished accompanist, chamber musician, and a senior piano examiner for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB).

It was while living in the Netherlands that Carl was invited to give a recital for foreign diplomats and members of the international courts on a brand new Steinway housed in the grand ballroom of a historic palace in the Hague. Carl said it was that moment, plus being part of a performance of Carmina Burana at Sydney Opera House, was one of the highlights of his career. “Being on stage in the middle of such a huge orchestra and choir in such an iconic venue was definitely a memorable experience for me.”

With over 25 years’ of teaching and performing experience, including adjudicating at all levels from local scholarships through to international competitions, Carl says his main goal as the head of program and teacher at the Central Coast Conservatorium, is to “help students of all ages and abilities discover the amazing world of music to further enrich and expand their own world, as it has my own”.

“My affiliation with the Conservatorium goes back to the ‘80s and I am excited by what the future holds for the organisation. I look forward to being part of an organisation that provides the highest level of musical tuition and whose name is synonymous with musical excellence on the Central Coast. The gift of music is one that we have a duty to share, and it is a gift that has the ability to shape lives.”

When he’s not playing, practising, listening to, examining, or teaching music, Carl – a father to three energetic boys – enjoys learning new skills, from creating websites and designing apps to building a swimming pools and doing stand-up paddleboarding.  “Whatever challenge I take on I like to do it with 100 per cent focus and commitment.”

About Carl:

Carl holds a 1st Class Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and a Masters of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of The Netherlands. While living in Europe Carl was invited to perform in the 2004 International Chopin Festival in The Hague and with Steve Reich during the 2003 Steve Reich Festival. 

He has recorded the complete Chopin Preludes and the Brahms Fantasien Opus 116 and has been soloist with the Central Coast Symphony Orchestra, Balmain Sinfonia and Sydney Youth Orchestra. He was a recitalist for the Sydney Conservatorium’s Virtuoso Piano Series and a lecturer and performer at the 2008 Summer Piano Teachers’ Festival.

Carl is an experienced examiner and adjudicator and was a jury member for the 2016 Australia Chinese Arts Study & Exchange Association International Music Festival Piano Competition. He continues to give workshops, recitals and masterclasses for NSW Music Teachers’ Association and other musical organisations state-wide.

ELISABETH JACOBS

Piano Teacher

Elisabeth received her early training at Sydney Conservatorium graduating with many prizes and went on to further study at St Petersburg Conservatoire as a Churchill Fellow. 

From St Petersburg she moved to Glasgow where she took up the position of Lecturer in Piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. 

Elisabeth returned to Australia after a career of performing and teaching in the United Kingdom and was a winner of the ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition which allowed her to record and perform with the major orchestras in Australia. 

MELISSA LARK

Musicianship Teacher, Vocal Teacher, CMP Teacher

Melissa studied Kodaly at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, later obtaining her accreditation with the NSW Chapter of KMEIA (Kodaly Music Education Institute of Australia). Melissa also studied ‘Eurythmics’ – Dalcroze extensively and received her accreditation at Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Ruth Caldwell, Jeffrey Whilley and Karen Lemon. During this period, she also studied ‘Music & Students with Special Needs’ with Ruth Caldwell.

Melissa has taught Children’s Music since 1999 and more recently studied Composition with the late Clifford Abbott, Annie Nichols and Dr. Phillip Rutherford. She regularly composes songs and works for various projects and wrote extensively for the children’s entertainment group ‘The B-Bops’, in which she was a performer, partner and composer.

LIISA MUNNUKKA

Piano Teacher

Liisa was awarded a Bachelor of Music (Piano Performance) from Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has extensive experience as a rehearsal pianist and accompanist and is a member of the Accompanists Guild of NSW.

LILLI NAULU

Piano Teacher

Lilli graduated with a BMus in piano performance from Sydney Conservatorium of Music. 

She studied piano with Stephanie McCallum, as well as piano accompaniment with David Miller OAM. In her final year of study, she was awarded the Mollie Neale Memorial Award for excellence in piano accompaniment.

Katy Tsai

Piano/Keyboard Teacher

Katy is a piano educator who believes that music education is great for all ages and it is truly a gift for everyone’s wellbeing. She undertook piano studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of music and later studied ‘Eurythmics’ – Dalcroze, music through movement.

Katy has taught extensively at many schools in Sydney and has maintained a private teaching studio. She also has organised and performed at wellness events for almost three decades. Combining her love of music and wellbeing, Katy has created several albums that are celebrated on Spotify and Insight Timer.

Sharon Hatton

Keyboard Teacher

Sharon completed her Grade VIII in piano with Distinction with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) at the age of 16 and went on to finish an Associate Diploma in Piano Performance from the London College of Music under the tutelage of Madam Lam Kim Lian (GRSM). 

She has taught in primary schools and private music schools in Singapore and Sydney, and is also a Kindermusik educator, operating her own studio.

Svetlana Vokurka

Piano Teacher

Svetlana graduated from the University of Belgrade with a Master’s degree, Bachelor of Music (majoring in piano performance and teaching).  In Europe she has performed in different countries as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician and she continues to do this in Australia as well.
 
As a teacher Svetlana worked at the Music Education Centre in Zagreb, Croatia. She was also a member of the examination committee and received two awards for teaching piano.