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Staff

Staff
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: sdenbesten@athenacollege.com.au

Staff
Sarka Budinska
Teacher of Piano
Sarka finished her Masters of Music in Piano Performance at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2008. Through and after her studies she has been performing on solo recitals and with many chamber ensembles including M.Nosticz Quartett (winner of the International Music Competition Prague Spring) and Czech Radio choir. She was an accompanist of the childrens choir, Zvonecek, and participated in the recording of their latest CD. Sarka has nine years teaching experience with piano students of all ages and levels . She has been in Australia for one year now, having spent most of that time living in the Sydney area. In October and November 2011 she performed two concerts in Sydney, as a soloist and with a jazz singer Pamela Fisher. She is always happy to share her passion for music and joy from playing with other people.
Staff
George Carpenter
Teacher of Percussion and Drum Kit
Hi, my name is George and I’m the principal instructor of drums and percussion here at Athena College. Aside from teaching music I’m also a passionate songwriter and producer as well as the drummer for Gold Coast heavy rock group Mourning Tide. In my formative years I studied drums and percussion under the guidance of renowned Australian and international teachers such as Mark Charters, Paul Hudson, Todd Burnes, Kerry Jacobson and Darren Farrugia. Since finishing high school at All Saints in 2005 I have been recording, touring and teaching drums almost constantly. In 2009 I also completed a Bachelor of Popular Music at the Queensland Conservatorium greatly furthering my recording and song writing experience. I believe in teaching all my students based on their individual wants and needs. I also believe in exposing my students to all the various styles of contemporary drumming in order to best develop their musical vocabulary. I also appreciate that giving my students a complete musical and technical understanding of what it is they are playing yields the fastest and most thorough results. This systematic approach ultimately empowers the student to listen, perform and compose creatively behind the drumset; something I try and do every time I sit down behind the kit. I look forward to meeting and hopefully teaching you or your children in the future.
Staff
Joanne Politakis
Teacher of Voice & Piano
Jo has joined the staff of Athena College as a singing and piano teacher. She has studied both singing and piano at Athena College and is recently graduated from the Queensland Science Academy. Jo is currently studying nursing at Griffith Uni. She loves singing and enjoys most genres of music. Jo is thrilled to be teaching at Athena and is excited to be part of the great Athena family from this new perspective: teaching!!
Staff
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.
Staff
Marc Lyster
Teacher of Drama & Voice
I have always been interested in acting and singing and first stepped onto the stage at the ripe age of 9 years old. Since then I have been involved in over 20 Musical Theatre productions both in Queensland and New Zealand. My stage credits include 'Rodney' in Dusty Springfield, 'Mark' in RENT, 'Robbie Hart' in The Wedding Singer, 'Cliff' in Cabaret and various lead roles in 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change - just to name a few. I studied with Trinity College of London and New Zealand Speech Board gaining a teaching certification with Honours in 1999, and ran a successful Children's Drama academy in Auckland for 5 years. I worked on a number of NZ television productions before moving to sunny Queensland in 2006. Since landing on the Gold Coast I have performed with Spotlight Theatre Company and Javeenbah Theatre Company. I am thrilled to have joined the Athena Team and love being involved in the training and development of tomorrow's bright stars.
Staff
Vashti den Besten
Administration & Human Resources / Teacher of Visual Art
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.
Staff
Morgan Goulding
Teacher of Flute, Piano and Drama
Hi there, my name is Morgan Goulding and I specialise in flute and piano at Athena College. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I have studied the piano for 8 years and the flute for 7 years and have made the flute my major study. I have been involved in many eisteddfods, competitions, school bands, ensembles and musicals as well as having previously participated in the GCYO (Gold Coast Youth Orchestra) Wind Ensemble and Youth Symphony. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and have recently been awarded my Associate in Music (AMUS) on the flute. I hope to share my passion and excitement for music with my students here at Athena College.
Staff
Zoe Madrers
Teacher of Drama and Theatre

Hi, my name is Zoe Madrers and I joined Athena College as a foundation student in 2005, studying theatre, singing and piano. My passion for the arts started when I was four years old through dance, choirs, eisteddfods and performances. I have been fortunate to have been able to study at Athena College under some amazing teachers, so it's very exciting for me to now be on the other side as a teacher myself. I have been successful in many eisteddfods over the years and have achieved excellent results in mime, poetry, improvisation, monologues and group drama. I have played a number of roles in both the Music Theatre class and Teen Theatre. I'm looking forward to sharing my love of drama with my students at Athena College. 

 

 

Staff
Dan Verni
Bass Guitar Teacher

Dan Verni has been involved and surrounded by music since he could walk. From playing on an air-guitar with his cousins performing for family when he was a kid, to touring the eastern states of Australia with local Gold Coast rock-outfit FLICKER SWITCH, Dan has been playing Bass Guitar since he was 13, taught by QLD CONSERVATORIUM educated teachers.


Dan has an immense experience playing a plethora of live shows with Flicker Switch, signing to Hum Records and MGM Distribution in 2005 with 3 recorded EP’s under his belt, and recently recorded their debut self-funded full length album “New Day.”


As well as becoming a team member here at Athena College as the resident Bass Guitar Teacher, Dan also works alongside Dolphins and Seals at Sea World, filming the animal adventure program.

Staff
Susan Sands
Teacher of Piano and Theory

Hi, my name is Susan Mostert. I started piano at the age of twelve and it has always been my biggest passion. I attended a performing arts school in New Zealand “The Corelli School of the Performing Arts” I was involved in various concerts, accompaniment, orchestras, ensemble groups and teaching. Currently I am studying at Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium doing my Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance.  I love sharing music with other people in the world, whether it is through teaching or performance I think it is an exciting and valuable experience.

 

Staff
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!

Staff
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.

Staff
Tatsuki Shiratsuch
Teacher of Cello

Tatsuki has been playing the cello for over 11 years, and is currently working on 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

Staff
Melissa Bedser
Teacher of Piano and Singing

Hi, My name is Melissa Bedser. Playing piano from age 8, music has played a huge role throughout my life! Over the years I've accumulated extensive knowledge in the field of piano theory and practice to the higher levels of AMEB. During this time, I'm honored to say I've also had the luxury to attend improvisational workshops with the famous Christopher Norton- Music Composer. My goal is to discover my students’ passion, to help them express their stories and emotions through music and singing, and help them be the best musicians they can become.

Staff
Jazmin Fehr
Teacher of Dance

Jazmin Fehr is 20 years of age and has a passion for musical theatre and teaching children. She has been singing, dancing, acting and playing the piano ever since she can remember. Jazmin completed a Cert IV in Music Theatre at Gold Coast Triple Threat in 2011 and has performed in many musicals including Grease, Beauty and the Beast, High School Musical Two, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Oliver playing the role of ‘Bet’, All Shook Up playing the role of ‘Lorraine’, Camp Rock playing the role of ‘Peggy’, and choreographed ‘Kids in Space’ at All Saints Anglican School in 2012. Currently, Jazmin is in her third year of university studying a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at Southern Cross University, works at Kool Kids Early Learning Centre, and is choreographing ‘Aladdin’ for All Saints Anglican School. 

Staff
Yulian Gani
Teacher of Piano

Hi, my name is Yulian and I graduated my Conservatory class of Piano Performance in Jakarta, Indonesia. I have more than 10 years teaching experience in Jakarta and Australia and I'm passionate about teaching piano to all ranges of age from children to adults, beginner to advanced level. I started my piano lesson when I was 9 years old.  I was also appointed as an examiner  for various piano festivals and exams, held by the Kawai Music School – Japan, Jakarta – Indonesia.  I play professionally for private functions such as Christmas/weddings and I've accompanied various choir groups.  I love to share and broaden my teaching experiences with other people as well.

Staff
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 (2014) 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.