Staff Profiles



Our administration staff are not full-time, but whether it be in the office or at our events, you are likely to find 

them everywhere.


Director: Rebecca Ryan BA (Communication)


Picture of smiling woman in her early 40sRebecca is passionate about her local community and has demonstrated this through a 15-year plus involvement in community cultural development.

Rebecca completed a Bachelor Arts Communication at Charles Sturt University Bathurst and came to Gunnedah in 1998 as a journalist working for the award-winning Namoi Valley Independent. After five years Rebecca moved into Public Relations working for leading agency Sefton & Associates in its Gunnedah and Tamworth office. During this time Rebecca worked for national clients including Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, Animal Health Australia, Plant Health Australia, Telstra and Westpac. The campaign she delivered for Plant Health Australia was awarded a Golden Target Public Relations Institute Award.

Rebecca’s passion has always been community arts and she was a key volunteer member of the Two Rivers Arts Council in Gunnedah during the late 1990s and early 2000s producing and directing community theatre and working on Gunnedah’s annual Two Rivers Arts Festival. She is currently Vice-President of Arts North West (the regional arts board). In 2009 Rebecca was the coordiantor of the Two Rivers Arts Council's Circus Programs and first became involved in the Conservatorium as a committee member.

Rebecca commenced work with the Gunnedah Conservatorium in January 2010 following the organisation's acceptance into the NSW Department of Education's Regional Conservatorium Grant Program. Rebecca oversaw the Conservatorium's successful application for triennial funding and has steered the organisation through a period of huge growth with the organisation's level of activity more than doubling though increased individual tuitiona as well as school and community programs and an annual concert series.

While not a musician Rebecca has a love of music which was fostered through her experiences at primary and high school. She shares that love and passion at the Conservatorium daily.




Administrative Assistant:  Sharron Curzon

Communications Coordinator: Steffanie Huntley





Gunnedah Conservatorium employs qualified tutors who strive to provide their students with the best experience when learning an instrument.


Tutors undertake regular professional development in their field of interest and other music developments.


Amonst our tutors are:


Julia Rennick, BA (ECE, Macquarie), GDipH (Music, UNE), Cert IV TAA, ANCOS (Level 2) Orff Schulwerk.  


Julia is passionate about music education and has developed, refined and delivered the early childhood music program for 20 years at the Gunnedah Conservatorium. Julia strives to remain at the cutting edge of this exciting field and is constantly challenging herself and broadening her own skill base by attending courses in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne; and runs professional development workshops to early childhood and primary teachers. She has classes for children between birth and 8 years of age at the Con as well as delivering lessons into preschool and early childhood centres.


This is her 2nd year as a music mentor with the NMTMP NSW, which is the NSW Public Schools branch of the National Music Teacher Mentoring Program established by Richard Gill AO in 2015. It is a program that provides NSW public school teachers with mentoring to support music teaching and learning, with a focus on Stage 1. 


Julia is keen to improve the education of both dance and music by ensuring that people (teachers) already invested in local communities have the best skills and resources at their disposal. Ultimately, this ensures developmental benefits for children not only in music and dance but in other areas of their learning too. Her philosophy is simple – always give 100% and attempt everything with joy and enthusiasm.

Joel Pickett


Joel has been conducting individual lessons since 2008. He teaches a range of contemporary guitar styles including: rock, pop, alternative, indie and country. For the younger primary-aged students, Joel begins teaching with the basic fundamentals of music including reading music, developing rhythmic playing and focusing on left + right hand technique. Joel encourages those who want to perform into entering various performance opportunities, such as the Gunnedah Eisteddfod, extra-curricular school activities and Conservatorium performance occasions.
Joel has significant experience working with music technology and software. He is particularly interested in notation software (including Guitar Pro, MuseScore and Sibelius), transcription and looping. Transcription and notation software are used to notate and arrange parts for students. Students will often come into the lesson with a cover off YouTube of a popular song. Sheet music on the internet for this style is commonly inaccurate and oftentimes incomplete. Joel will commonly arrange these pieces for students with their skill level in mind.
Joel routinely uses guitar looping pedals in the studio that enhance the student's learning through practise, recording techniques, improvisation and phrasing. Advancing students are encouraged to purchase a looper to aid practise, composition and improvisation at home. In effect, the looper becomes the "rhythm guitarist" for the student, providing rhythmic and harmonic content for the student to practise with.
In school situations, Joel has taught guitar in one-on-one and group ensembles settings. These students generally start from Year 3 and up. Various students have performed at extra-curricular occasions including talent quests, performance showcases and end-of-year functions.
For those who wish to, Joel is able to focus on and prepare them for AMEB CPM exams. Teaching areas: Guitar (electric and acoustic) and Bass

James Brown B. Mus. M.M.T.A. J.P.

James (Jamie) studied classical singing and piano at the University of New England and The New England Conservatorium studying under Professor Roger Woodward and Mrs Peta Blyth O.A.M (Ex Australian Opera).  Jamie focused his strengths on performance and has performed as a soloist with Opera North West and the Armidale Choral Society.

Jamie has a strong choral background and wide knowledge of the vocal repertoire, particularly in the AMEB syllabus. His experience with preparation for the HSC performance component in both Music 1 and Music 2 is also extensive. School based vocal programs are ongoing with great outcomes achieved.

At present, Jamie has a vibrant studio comprising of singers and pianists from Preliminary to 7th Grade.  He is preparing for his  A.Mus.A. 


Edwina Tolhurst – Violin, Piano and Musicianship 

Young woman playing violin and smiling

Edwina Tolhurst has been involved in music all her life, having been surrounded by music from a very early age. When she was four she started learning how to play violin and piano (later picking up other instruments), being brought up through the Suzuki method which aims to nurture students into not only musicians, but human beings.

The method also focuses heavily on ear training and as a result of that she is able to pick up her instrument and play in any situation without requiring music, a valuable skill for a musician.

These skills have helped Edwina achieve success in the music industry such as working as a session musician at recording studios, playing on albums of country artists, receiving songwriting awards, appearing in the Country Capital News magazine, performing on radio, and other such accomplishments.

For three years she has taught violin, piano and musicianship at Gunnedah Conservatorium, passing on the skills learnt through her Suzuki education, combining instrumental teaching with a philosophy embracing the total development of the child. 



Sandra Clark, AMusA Piano 

Sandra has significant experience working with choirs. She has worked with many school choirs in and around Tamworth preparing them for Eisteddfods, speech nights, school celebrations. Sandra also worked with the combined churches choir in Tamworth mostly writing choral arrangements.  Sandra has a love of musical theatre and has been the Musical Director for a number of productions including, 'Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie' for Anne Beekes children's theatre company in Tamworth and 'A Christmas Carol' for St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Tamworth.

In school situations, Sandra has taught recorder, guitar and percussion in groups as well as focussing on choral work.

Sandra has been conducting individual lessons since 1992. She teaches a variety of styles from classical to contemporary and believes strongly in developing a personal learning plan for each pupil. For those who wish to, Sandra is able to focus on and prepare them for AMEB exams.

Teaching areas:


Classical Guitar


Class-based curriculum programs

School choirs and instrument ensembles




Esther Albert B.Arts (Music/PDHPE)/B.Teach Cert III Suzuki Talent Education A.Mus.A (cello)

Esther Albert began learning the violin at four years old, but the appeal of the cello drew her to begin lessons at six. She studied cello with Belinda Manwaring and piano with Gai Kerr. At 15 Esther moved to Sydney to study at the Sydney Conservatorium High School with Georg Pedersen, and piano with Nada Brissenden. During this time she completed an AmusA in cello, and performed in the Conservatorium High School Orchestra and various ensembles under respected conductors Richard Gill and Richard Tognetti (Australian Chamber Orchestra) among others. At the final annual concert, Esther was appointed concertmaster (a post usually reserved for violinist) by internationally acclaimed conductor Nicholas Milton.

After graduating, she attended Avondale College to complete a Bachelor of Arts(Music)/Bachelor of Teaching, and a Certificate III in Suzuki Talent Education, during which time she taught cello and piano at West Ryde music shop. In 2010, she took a position at Tamworth Conservatorium of Music teaching cello, piano, violin, and string groups. She co-founded the Marius Trio in that year, which ran a subscription series in 2011. She was also asked to begin teaching piano at Gunnedah Conservatorium, and did some performances with Armidale Conservatorium.

Esther now teaches Violin, Cello, Double Bass, Piano, and string ensembles at Avondale School and Heritage College Lake Macquarie, and regularly guest tutors at Suzuki events in Sydney. She has recently begun teaching Cello at Gunnedah Conservatorium via Video Conferencing, and teaches classroom music at various schools on a casual basis.



Tammy Clark-Vocal & Musical Performance

Tammy grew up on the stage. She started dancing lessons at the age of 5 and singing from the age of 8. Her vocal training included AMEB exams and many performance opportunities both rurally and on the coast of NSW. She has worked with musical entertainment groups and vocal soloists. Tammy has a love of musical theatre and was the Musical Director for the conservatoriums first musical ‘All Things Christmas’ in 2014.

Tammy teaches private vocal lessons. This includes working with each student as individuals and using their interests as a foundation to commence their musical journey. She exposes students to a variety of music genes including; classical, art songs, pop, jazz, and country, folk and musical theatre. Students are encouraged to perform and offered the opportunity to complete AMEB exams. Tammy believes each voice is an instrument and with guidance and support students can learn to use this instrument to its fullest potential.

Musical performance group lessons give students the opportunity to explore music through singing, moving rhythmically, percussion, music theory and performance while working with other creative peers.

Tammy is currently completing her bachelor of education early childhood and primary with the goal to then complete a masters in music.

Learna Christie BA DipEd


Larni hails from the Darling Downs in rural Queensland. During her teenage years she was a member of the Queensland Theatre Company and toured South East Queensland with a production of A Midsummer's Night Dream. Her belief in introducing theatre to young people early stems from this childhood experience. 

Larni graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Japanese and Drama. She is fluent in Japanese language and has travelled and lived in Japan 11 times. Upon graduation she worked five years in Sydney in the Japanese tourist industry before marrying Alistair, beginning her family and moving to Muswellbrook. For nine years she taught Japanese (Cert IV) at Hunter TAFE. Following the birth of her second child, Larni graduated from the University of New England with a Graduate Diploma of Education. For nine years Larni was the Primary Drama Teacher at Muswellbrook Public School.  In 2012 Larni took out 3 years from teaching to establish and run a business “The Milkwood Teahouse” in Muswellbrook, She returned to teaching primary drama and performance  again in 2015 at Aberdeen Public School. 

She has been the receiptant of  two NSW Department of Education awards in her teaching career for her contribution to the Performing Arts. In 2011 and 2016 she was awarded “Excellence in Teaching” in Education Week. 

Larni is a Life Member of the Muswellbrook Amateur Theatrical Society, for which she has directed, produced, choreographed, costumed and designed local productions in conjunction with the Muswellbrook Shire Concert Band for more than 18 years. 

During her 28 years in Muswellbrook, Larni has been heavily involved with developing young people's opportunities in the performance arena.  She has prepared school dance groups, coordinated youth drama workshops and directed both student and adult productions.  Larni has prepared hundreds of students to compete in the Muswellbrook & Upper Hunter Eisteddfod Speech and Drama Section.  She was awarded the Muswellbrook Shire Australia Day Award for Cultural Achiever in 2009, recognising her valuable contribution to the community. 

Larni has been a casual teaching staff member of the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music since 2009 and teaches ensemble and private drama lessons in Muswellbrook. In 2015 Larni’s husband moved to Gunnedah to a permanent position, and in 2016, Larni began to teach Speech and Drama for the Gunnedah Conservatorium via weekly Video Conferencing from the Upper Hunter Conservatorium and then face-to-face studio lessons.    

Larni looks forward to building the drama studio in Gunnedah and meeting like minded creative people in the region.

Colin Gutteridge- Woodwind- Saxopone/ Clarinet/ Flute 

Colin started playing music at the age of eight in Primary School and went on to start his own band in High School. When he was 16, he left school to join the Royal Australian Navy Band where he was trained in many different styles of music, Classical, Concert Band, Swing, Dixieland Jazz, etc. 

Specialising in Clarinet, Colin went onto learn Saxophone, Drums, Piano and Flute. During his time in the Navy Band, Colin played at some of Australia's prestigious functions including the opening of the Sydney Opera House, in front of crowds at 2 different AFL Grand Finals, played in a sextet and played Chamber music at various functions for heads of state. He also entertained Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Australia and played at dinners for other notable Australians. 

After leaving the Navy, Colin moved back to Adelaide where he stayed for one year before moving to Tamworth. He has worked in the Music Industry and Music Shops for 38 years, in that time he has also been teaching privately for 35 years and doing musical instrument repairs.

Colin is delighted to be teaching at the Conservatorium of Music in both Tamworth and Gunnedah as well as various schools in the area. He plans on teaching locally for some time.