The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School provides a nationally and internationally recognised specialist program for the training of talented young musicians
The Victorian College of Arts Secondary School is amongst this county’s finest music schools. It is a collaboration of like-minded teachers and students working to a common goal.
Students bring energy and passion as well as their musical talent. They are driven to achieve their best as well as work collaboratively with their peers.
The Music staff is an outstanding group of educators. They are part of the leading music faculty in the country.
The music program is diverse. Most importantly the music program is constantly evolving.
The music program covers chamber music, orchestra, big band, choirs, composition, aural training, analysis, historical context, performance class, instrumental lessons, accompanist tutorials.
VCASS is dynamic and energetic. We all share a love of music.
Students leave VCASS and overwhelmingly go on to study music.
Former VCASS students abound in the industry. They hold positions in leading orchestras. They are international soloists, recording artists, conductors, chamber players, festival directors and teachers. They are composers, rock players, jazz players, arrangers and more.
VCASS is located in Southbank at heart of the Arts precinct of Melbourne.
It is a privilege to be a part of this dynamic school.
The music program is designed to provide young musicians with a comprehensive education to develop their abilities to the highest level.
In the music program, students receive 1/1 individual lessons on their principal instrument. Additionally, after their first year at VCASS, students have an opportunity to apply to learn a second instrument.
All students participate in Performance Seminar. To develop their aural and theoretical skills, all students participate in choir and attend musicianship classes
Music analysis and composition is studied at all levels, and music technology is incorporated in these studies.
Chamber Music is a vital area of music training. Both senior and junior students participate in dedicated, tutored ensemble sessions each week.
VCASS students are provided with many performance opportunities both within the school and at outside concerts. Underpinning these opportunities is the weekly performance seminar. At certain times during the semester, instrument specific masterclasses are run alongside the performance classes. As part of their VCE performance studies, year 12 students (Music Investigation) and year 11 students (Music Performance) are given an opportunity to perform in concert series held in public venues. These include: Lunch Time Classics (Deakin Edge), The Austral Salon (East Melbourne), Pre Concert Music (Melbourne Recital Centre), and other venues.
Students participate in large and small ensembles, and chamber groups tailored to individual talents of the students. Senior students are required to participate in one chamber ensemble that is assessed as one person per part. In Semester 1, Junior Students participate in one tutored chamber ensemble. In Semester 2 they are tutored in preparing and conducting their own composition for performance at the end of year Junior Performance Season.
Choir and Musicianship
All students at VCASS sing! VCASS prides itself on being a vibrant singing community. Both Junior and Senior Choirs regularly commission and premiere Australian works. Choir is the only activity where all VCASS music students unite and share their combined talents in one vibrant ensemble. Chamber Choir is a selected voice ensemble that performs regularly outside the school and garners much praise for its artistic achievements.
All students receive thorough and comprehensive training in aural and theory skills. These courses help develop fluency and literacy in music as well as giving students a much greater and deeper knowledge and understanding of their performance studies, both solo and ensemble.
Michael Sargeant, Head of Music
Mr Kim Beissel
Ph: 03 8644 8608
More information available for download at the bottom of this page
HEAD OF MUSIC - MICHAEL SARGEANT
Michael has had a diverse career in the Music Industry. He spent many years in Music Theatre, Opera, Orchestral, the Rock and Pop world as well as other Jazz related ventures. He has toured in Australia as well as in Europe and America.
Michael has a broad experience in the field of Music Education. Over the past 25 years he has worked in the areas of Instrumental Teaching, Ensemble Tutoring, Conducting, Choral Direction, Musicianship and Solfege Teaching and Classroom Teaching.
Michael has presented at conferences including for the Kodaly Music Education Institute of Australia, at the National Flute Convention in Brisbane and for many VCE Conferences. For VCAA he has been part of VCE Study Design advisory committees as well as on approval panels for Music Investigation.
Michael has been involved in many professional bodies having been a member of KMEIA’s Victorian Branch Committee and is a past president of the Association of Directors of Music in Independent Schools.
Michael has worked in many schools across the Government, Catholic and Independent sectors. From 1997 to 2004 Michael was Director of Music at Lauriston Girls’ School. He is currently Head of Music at the VCA Secondary School.
mary jo kelly
ASSISTANT HEAD OF MUSIC - MARY JO KELLY
Mary Jo completed her Bachelor of Music Education at Melbourne University and a Graduate Diploma in Composition at Queensland Conservatorium. She is Workplace Assessor trained and holds a Certificate IV in Music Industry.
Her teaching experience includes Yamaha Music School, Melbourne Youth Music, Performing Arts Coordinator at Presentation College Windsor and the Grange P-12 College, Assistant Head of VCASS Music from January 2000 and Acting Head of VCASS Music from September 2003 - December 2004. These positions, over a period of 18 years, cover a wide range of teaching experiences in classroom music, musicianship, conducting, VET Music Industry, ensemble direction and tutoring.
Professional bodies that Mary Jo has been involved with or presented to include the Victorian Music Teachers Association and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s VCE VET Music Industry reference group.
Mary Jo’s stylistically diverse career as a pianist and singer includes performances with accapella groups, jazz and Latin American Big Bands and many contemporary solo artists and groups.
JAZZ STUDIES COORDINATOR - IAN WHITEHURST
Ian is a highly active musician and educator in Australia. He is a member the ‘Andrea Keller Quartet’, winner of numerous ARIA, and Bell Awards, and was also a member of the original ‘Bennett’s Lane Big Band’ for 13 years. Ian has toured to Europe and Asia as well as performing with Australian and International artists such as Gordon Brisker (USA), Bill Watrous (USA) and Satoko Fujii (JAPAN) Wayne Bergeron (USA) and Wycliffe Gordon (USA).
Ian currently teaches at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, Monash University and Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.
CHORAL STUDIES COORDINATOR - DERMOT TUTTY
Dermot Tutty is a respected voice teacher, choral conductor, stage director and composer. As a young boy, Dermot was a gifted soloist with the National Boys Choir of Australia. He performed several principal treble roles with The Australian Opera Company and the Victoria State Opera. In 1989 his portrayal of Miles in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw earned Dermot a Green Room Award.
Dermot worked as a tutor and conductor with the National Boys Choir of Australia for almost 20 years. Stage direction credits include The Golden Vanity, All the Kings Men and the world premiere of Calvin Bowman and John Marsden's Lost to the Music with the NBCA. In addition to his work at VCASS Dermot teaches singing at Melbourne Grammar School, and works as a choral conductor and voice teacher at The King David School. Students from Dermot's private studio have won national and international competitions, including the Herald Sun Aria Competition and the Meistersinger Vocal Competition in Graz, Austria. He has tutored numerous treble soloists for roles with Opera Australia and Victorian Opera. Public presentations include vocal workshops for the Victorian Music Teachers Association and the prestigious Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust.
Dermot was the Choral Director for the Tutti World Youth Music Festival 2013 in Beijing. Production credits include Music Director for the NBCA Sony release, Almost Angels, and work for Nuffsaid Records, Obese Records, and national television programmes and commercials.
Dermot has composed music for short films directed by Paul Watters and is scoring a new film featuring the images of Alex Cherney, prize-winning astronomical photographer. Future commissions include a new work for Southern Cross Soloists as well as for the Melbourne Art Song Collective. Dermot's song, “Die liebe Farbe” features on the recent CD release by soprano Siobhan Stagg and pianist Amir Farid.
CLASSROOM MUSIC - JENNY GILLAN
Jennifer Gillan studied advanced conducting, solfege, teaching methods and 'cello at the Kodaly Institute of Music in Hungary. She has taught in London and completed her Master of Music Studies at the University of Queensland.
Jennifer is passionate about choral music and music literacy. She has worked with the Australian Boys' Choir as a tutor, has guest conducted the Young Voices of Melbourne, Da Capo Singers and the Intermediate Chamber Choir at St Michaels Grammar School.
Jennifer has worked at Scotch College Junior School and currently teaches at St Michaels Grammar School, Christ Church Grammar School and Melba Conservatorium of Music. She also teaches the intensive aural course for VCE at Melba Conservatorium. In her working week she conducts choirs and teaches musicianship to people of all ages - from prep to secondary school, tertiary and adult.
CLASSROOM MUSIC - SUE LYONS
Sue Lyons graduated as a pianist from the University of Melbourne in 1982, and began a 27 year teaching career in Bendigo where she was appointed to Eaglehawk High School, In 1991 Sue was appointed to Flora Hill Secondary College where she established an intensive classroom music program which focussed on ensemble playing and Kodaly throughout all year levels. In 2007 Sue commenced teaching at Bendigo Senior Secondary College where she coordinated the Music Program and taught VCE Music Performance and Music Styles. During that period she participated in VCE exam assessing and the VCAA Review of the Music study design. Throughout her teaching career Sue has directed many school productions, choirs, Stage Bands, Concert Bands and chamber ensembles and from 2005 - 2008 was the co director of the Bendigo Colleges Symphonic Band. Many of her ensembles have won prizes at competitions and the Melbourne School Bands festival.
Sue has a passion for choral singing and loves going to concerts and listening to a broad range of music styles.
Sue is married with two daughters, who are both studying music at the University of Melbourne.
CLASSROOM MUSIC - GABRIELLA IBBOTT
As a performing musician, Gabriella has toured internationally and throughout Australia with a broad variety of ensembles. Having studied at VCASS herself, she Gabriella was awarded the Lenton Parr Academic Award, a Premier’s Award for Music Performance and later, her Associate Diploma of Music with Distinction.
Continuing her passion for music, she completed a Bachelor of Music Performance (Orchestral Trumpet) at the Victorian College of the Arts where she received the Orloff Family Charitable Trust Scholarship. Following this, Gabriella completed a Master of Teaching at the University of Melbourne and during this time was awarded the Olive Battersby Scholarship for Academic Achievement.
Gabriella has continued her professional practice as a musician and teacher in a range of educational settings; she has worked as an Ensemble Director across a range of traditional and contemporary styles, an Instrumental and Classroom Music Teacher and a Coordinator of a range of music programs. Her teaching skills have been acknowledged through her pupils being awarded the prestigious Premier’s Award for achieving top VCE marks. Gabriella has worked at many schools in Melbourne, most recently as Classroom Music Coordinator (7-12) at Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak. Through her professional practice, she also teaches Music in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
TUTOR AND ACCOMPANIST - JULIE HASKELL
Pianist and fortepianist, Dr Julie Haskell is well established as one of Melbourne’s leading piano teachers of young pianists. She has extensive experience teaching in schools including two years as Head of Keyboard at Caulfield Grammar School, and has taught piano at the University of Melbourne since 1998.
Julie has also gained respect as one of the country’s foremost accompanists. She has been the official accompanist for numerous competitions, and worked for many years as an accompanist at the National Academy of Music and the University of Melbourne.
Julie’s performance experience is vast and has included countless solo and duo-piano recitals, live-broadcasts, concerto performances and work as an orchestral pianist in Europe and Australia. As a chamber-musician, she has collaborated with many internationally renowned instrumentalists and singers, including performances with her newly formed Melbourne FortePiano Ensemble and the Australian Haydn Ensemble.
Dr Haskell is an AMEB examiner and frequent adjudicator of eisteddfods and competitions throughout the country. She is regularly invited to present masterclasses, workshops and lectures to students and piano teachers in Australia and South East Asia. Julie is currently the president of the Victorian Music Teachers’ Association, the VMTA summer conference convenor and a state representative for the Australasian Piano Pedagogy Association.
Julie’s initial piano studies were in Melbourne with Jean McQuarie and Dr Diana Weekes. At the age of 18, she pursued further studies in the UK and the Netherlands. Julie was the winner of many prestigious awards, including the Hephzibah Menuhin Award, all major prizes at the Dandenong Festival, the South Street Competitions and the Musical Society of Victoria. At the age of 15 she was State Winner and Commonwealth Finalist in the ABC I&V awards, performing concertos with the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. Julie has always had a special affinity with chamber works of the classical period and doctoral studies at the University of Adelaide led to a special interest in historically informed performance practice.
MUSIC ADMINSTRATION OFFICER - KIM BEISSEL
Melbourne-born arts professional, Kim Beissel studied music and creative arts at the former Melbourne State College.
Throughout his career Kim has specialised in sales, marketing, customer service and copyright licensing. He has worked for Open Channel, Ticketmaster, the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne Theatre Company, Sportsbrand Media, Marriner Theatres, Chamber Made Opera and APRA.
During his parallel career as a musician Kim has been a saxophonist, vocalist, songwriter, radio presenter, DJ, music researcher and record producer. He has been a writer-member of APRA since 1985, and was a founding member of the East Bentleigh Community Choir in 2008.
TUTOR AND ACCOMPANIST - ANNE LEWITZKA
Anne Lewitzka is a graduate of Melbourne University where she completed a Masters Degree in Piano Accompaniment receiving both a post graduate scholarship with a stipend and the Marion Isobel Thomas Award. Further piano studies undertaken in Italy with Lidia Baldecchi-Arcuri enabled her to observe the piano classes of both the university and secondary school students within the Nicolo Paganini Conservatorio in Genoa as part of her studies.
In Melbourne, professional work as an accompanist has encompassed a wide range of areas. Live broadcasts for the ABC, work as orchestral pianist, accompanist for orchestral auditions and for tertiary students at Melbourne University and the Victorian College of the Arts where she also worked as a repetiteur with opera students.
She is frequently involved in performances for musical societies and as Official Accompanist for eisteddfods in Victoria. She has performed in Top Class Concerts on many occasions and at Top Acts with talented students as part of the VCAA Season of Excellence. As a piano teacher her students have received the Margaret Schofield Scholarship, been invited to perform at Top Acts and have been the recipients of major awards at eisteddfods in Victoria. Anne is a Council Member and long standing member of the Victorian Music Teachers Association.
PIANO TUTOR - MUSICIANSHIP
Louisa Breen was born in Melbourne, Australia, and started her piano lessons with Nehama Patkin. After attending the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, she graduated with Bachelor of Music Honours from the University of Melbourne. In the same year she began her postgraduate studies on the piano at the Royal College of Music in London, supported by a Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Scholarship, an Associated Board International Scholarship, and the Clarke Scholarship. After gaining a Distinction for her Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Performance, Louisa completed her Masters in Musical Performance, followed by two years as an RCM Junior Fellow.
While in the UK, Louisa won many prizes including the highest prize for piano at the Royal College of Music, the Chappell Gold Medal. She has toured Asia and Australasia as a member of the RCM Premiere ensemble and performed regularly as a soloist and as a chamber musician in concerts throughout London and the UK, including such venues as the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and St John's Smith Square. She has performed concertos with orchestra in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and New Zealand, including the European Premiere of Australian composer Carl Vine's Piano Concerto with the RCM Sinfonietta. In 2004, Louisa won the piano section of the prestigious Royal Overseas League Music Competition, followed shortly by her solo Wigmore Hall debut.
In 2005 Louisa returned to live in Melbourne, and has been working as a freelance pianist since. She performs regularly as a solo and chamber musician, and is a regular pianist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. As half of the Brown and Breen piano duo, Louisa has recently toured France, Australia, and the US performing Peter Sculthorpe’s Island Songs, a work for two pianos and didjeridoo written for the duo. Further commissions for the duo include works by Ross Edwards and Joe Chindamo. She is an Associate Artist at the Australian National Academy of Music
As well as her musical life, Louisa enjoys good food, riding her bicycle, and being the mother of two little bouncy boys.
Carrie Barr, Dermot Tutty, Jocelyn Hickey, Michelle Nicolle (improvisation), Danielle Calder
Michael Loftus-Hills, Fintan Murphy, Isin Cakmakcioglu, Josephine Vains, Lisa Grosman, Rohan de Korte, Rachel Atkinson, Rosanne Hunt, Emma Sullivan, Ben Hanlon, Xani Kolac (improvisation), Nikolai Froumine, Jonathan Zion (improvisation)
Dr Joel Brennan, Ian Bell, Linda Hewett, Gabriella Ibbott, Edward Fairlie (improvisation)
Robert Schubert, Mardi McSullea, Joshua de Graaf, Ian Whitehurst (improvisation), Lucinda Cran, Grania Burke, Ian Godfrey, Derek Jones, Karen Schofield
Percussion and Drum Kit
Anna Camara, Graham Morgan (improvisation)
Guitar and Bass Guitar
Ben Dix, Daniel McKay, James Sherlock, Zoë Frater (improvisation)
Len Vorster, Glenn Riddle, Dr Julie Haskell, Anne Lewitzka, Steve Sedergreen (improvisation), Monique di Mattina (improvisation)
Dermot Tutty, Ian Whitehurst, Zoë Frater, Dr Julie Haskell, Mary Jo Kelly, Michael Sargeant, Robert Schubert, Jenny Gillan, James Sherlock, Josephine Vains, Rachel Atkinson, Ben Dix, Lisa Grosman, Anna Camara, Svetlana Bogosavljevic, Sue Lyons, Warwick Stengårds
Musicianship, Theory, Composition, Conducting, Music Style and History
Jenny Gillan, Mary Jo Kelly, Michael Sargeant, Gabriella Ibbott, Dr Julie Haskell, Anthony Lyons, Dr David Kram, Sue Lyons
Body Mechanics for Musicians
Sela Kiek, Steven McTaggart
Jenny Gillan, Gabriella Ibbott, Sue Lyons, Dr Julie Haskell
Anne Lewitzka, Dr Julie Haskell, Louisa Breen, James Sherlock (improvisation), Zoë Frater