Banner 739
Banner 49
Banner 52
Banner Rock School
Banner 45


Sue den Besten
Founder and Principal

I have been involved in Music Education for the past 30 years, having taught in a variety of school settings: secondary, primary, early childhood, large and also relatively small schools, independent, public and private school systems, as a Consultant in the Arts for Qld Ed., overseas exchange postings and most recently in an International school in China, where I was in charge of a thriving music department and Head of the Senior School. I am passionate about teaching and I believe that is evidenced through my teaching of music. I have always provided opportunities for all students to access the joys of music, dance and drama, regardless of their individual musical ability! I am excited that Athena College, a lifelong dream is being realised and is on the Gold Coast, providing quality education in the arts. Please feel free to call in and see our school in progress: we are all very proud of this new direction in arts education and look forward to sharing it with you. Email:

Tatsuki Shiratsuchi
Teacher of Cello
Tatsuki has been playing the cello for over 11 years, and has recently completed his Licentiate Diploma in Music. He is a current university student studying Law at the University of Queensland. He hopes to continue playing the cello throughout his life and share his musical skills and knowledge with young students.
Luke Sharp
Teacher of Piano and Theory
Hi! My name is Luke and I am very excited to become one of the team members at Athena College in 2017! I have been playing piano since the age of 4 and now, a little more than 16 years later, I find myself graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in March of this year with a Bachelor of Music - Advanced Performance majoring in Classical Piano. I hope to bring my experience playing and learning my instrument, and share it with you whilst teaching at Athena College.
Patricia Ciafardini
Teacher of Visual Art
Athena College is proud to have one of the Gold Coast's most revered and loved art specialists working with us. Pat has two decades experience working as a primary art specialist and her genuine love for every child and passion she has for every project is infectious. In addition to her role at Athena, Pat continues to work full time in a leading Gold Coast private school, making her commitment to work with us even more special and exciting.
Daniele Martines
Teacher of Drama & Voice
My name is Daniele and I’m from Germany. Since I was a little child I was fascinated by the theatre and performing. I started to perform in children’s musicals and took my first music lessons in clarinet and singing. Even at an older age I followed my passion and performed as Prince Charming in a modern adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland”. I decided to study theatre, media and musicology at the University of Bayreuth. During my studies I participated in a lot of theatre and film projects. I performed as Dorian Gray in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, co-directed “A Dangerous Game” and directed a theatre adaptation of “The Homesman”, which I also shot as a theatre-movie-hybrid. Beside my studies I also worked at the Mainfranken Theatre as a dramaturge assistant for the opera production of “Fidelio”. I’ve worked at the University Movie studios which has given me a cinematographic point of view of the performing art disciplines. During my studies I learned a lot of different theories about theatre, drama, acting, movie and music which I would like to share with all my students at Athena Collage.
Vashti den Besten
Manager, Administration & Human Resources
Vashti has been at Athena from its inception. She is responsible for all administration as well as human resource management. Vashti has a Certificate III in Business Management as well as Diplomas in both Events Management and Hospitality. She often finds herself in the theatre classes painting sets or assisting with choreography or making costumes. Her training in theatre makes her an invaluable asset during shows, as she is as adept at rigging a lighting bar and fine tuning the sound as she is at stage management during run-of-show. Vashti is an integral part of Athena College and always makes everyone feel most welcome to be there.
Dale Walker
Teacher of Guitar

Hi, my name is Dale and I am one of the guitar teachers at Athena College. I have been playing music since the age of 9 (21 years of experience on the guitar as well as 15 years on the bass guitar). I am intensely passionate about music and art and I think that shows in my teaching of the guitar. It gives me great pleasure and pride to see my students learn and flourish at their instrument. I have been teaching professionally for close to a decade and playing professionally for about the same in numerous bands such as Mourning Tide (a hard rock band, we have released two full length albums, the last one which was mixed and mastered in the USA as well as countless tours around Australia) and Mescalito Blues (a power blues duo that plays all over the coast and occasionally internationally). These experiences playing professionally in the industry inform my teaching practice and give me a unique tool to use when teaching students with an eye for performance in the future as well teaching them to be creative on their instrument but most of all, to have fun doing it!

Liam Cruz
Teacher of Brass & Guitar

Liam plays both french horn and trumpet and is a member of the Gold Coast Youth Symphony as well as being the Stage Manager. He has recently completed his senior school studies. Liam also plays and teaches guitar and happily shares his musical skills and knowledge with young guitar students. Liam is currently in high demand in the theatre world, as a Musical Director.

Bunny Gabriel
Teacher of Piano and Mini Music

We welcome Bunny Gabriel to Athena College. Bunny teaches piano, singing, ukulele and Mini Music. Everyone loves their lesson with Miss Bunny and there are always smiles all round.

Kiah Leslie
Teacher of Voice

Kiah Leslie is a dedicated music and singing teacher with a sincere passion for helping others to achieve their performance goals. Kiah combines an in depth knowledge of the anatomical and physiological functionality of the voice with an appreciation for a variety of styles and genres in her all-encompassing approach to teaching. From a very young age, Kiah actively participated in a wide variety of performing arts, gaining extensive performance experience in various solo, ensemble and theatrical settings, which ignited her love for music. Now at 21 years of age, Kiah holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz/Contemporary Voice from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and a Graduate Diploma of Education from Griffith University. She is currently studying a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy through the Queensland Conservatorium whilst teaching here at Athena College.

Gemma Howard
Piano Teacher

Hi, my name is Gemma Howard and I am thrilled to be one of the dedicated piano teachers at Athena College. It was my keen desire to learn piano when I was six years old – because of my love of music.  After what seemed like an eternity I began piano lessons when I was seven and as I knew I would, fell in love with the piano. Over the past several years I have completed the required AMEB practical and theory exams, receiving Honors and a Credit for the exams. I am currently studying for my Grade Eight exam, and plan to continue my music studies further after completing this level. I am excited to be joining the Athena College teaching team and look forward to encouraging my students with their own musical journey through Athena.  

Nikki Chong
Teacher of Drama
Hey my name is Nikki and I teach drama and singing here at Athena College. As soon as my Mum put me in a pink tutu when I was little, I knew the stage was for me. I always wanted to be a ballerina until I fell in love with musical theatre. I have performed as Jan from 'Grease', Princess Tuptim in 'The King and I' and Reno Sweeny in 'Anything Goes' to name a few. As much as I loved performing, I am studying to become an animator at university so I can bring even more characters to life. The performing arts has taught me a lot of life skills that I don't just use in the performance industry so I'm really excited to pass on my knowledge to the students here at Athena College. 
Ruby Pangrazio
Teacher of Flute

Hi! I’m Ruby Pangrazio and I joined Athena College in 2008, studying the flute, music theory, and later the piano. My passion for music began when I was eight years old as I fell in love with the flute. Since then I have completed AMEB Grade 8 on the flute and Grade 4 Theory of Music, whilst also experiencing eisteddfods and being a member of the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra. I not only love performing and teaching, but also appreciate what they have bought to my life: music has assisted me with skills such as critical thinking, communication and even mathematics! I’m currently studying Engineering at Griffith University, and will definitely continue to enjoy my love of music throughout my career. I hope to share my knowledge and passion with others here at Athena College!

Susan Sands
Teacher of Music

Hi my name is Susan Sands. I have studied a Bachelor of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Piano Performance. Since graduating in 2013 I have taught in Brisbane at Clayfield College and I am currently teaching on the Gold Coast at Athena College, The Southport School and privately. I regularly accompany students for AMEB exams as well as Choir accompaniment for Eisteddfods. I have a love and passion for music that I love to share with my students, seeing them grow and develop is something I find highly rewarding. I have experience teaching beginner students all the way up to Diploma level across all ages.