our teachers

JAMES leigh

Piano/Keyboards

James Leigh a musical child prodigy whose rise to fame in the 1980s as a significant member of Pseudo Echo, one of Australia’s greatest and most successful music exports, confirmed his reputation as one of Australia’s most respected musical virtuosos.

 

Multi-talented, AMEB classically trained and nationally renowned, he has written and produced numerous top 4o hits, both nationally and internationally, writing his first ARIA Top 5 hit at the ripe age of 16years old and been the recipient of gold and platinum records and music awards from across the globe including such territories as Europe, North America, UK, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

 

His mixing/production credits include Human Nature, Snoop Dogg, Tina Arena, Pseudo Echo, Invertigo, Taxiride, Kate Ceberano and a slew of others. He has exceptional and extensive experience in the music industry as the consummate musician, songwriter, producer, teacher and artist.

 

He has toured internationally and nationwide with Pseudo Echo, Invertigo and as musical director for Tina Arena.

 

He has shared the stage with some of the world’s most popular acts including Culture Club, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Pet Shop Boys and Jamiroquai, as well as a who’s who of Australian music.

 

He has been both a performing and session musician with credits that span film, advertising and TV. He has appeared on innumerable TV shows across the globe including US talk shows, MTV, American Bandstand, Top of the Pops and far too many to mention Australian TV appearances. He is co-director of Cultivator Records and co-founder of the Refinery School of Music School.

Drums/Song-Writing

vince leigh

Vince Leigh has over thirty years experience in all fields of the music industry. He has worked internationally and nationwide as a drummer and songwriter for such artists as Pseudo Echo, Invertigo and Tina Arena.

 

Since that time he has toured the world numerous times, written and produced multiple top 40 chart hits. Vince’s up-front drumming style is unconventional and dynamic and part of the key to his success as one of the most revered drummers in Australia.

 

He has a reputation as a showman musician, and though he has incorporated this into his teaching style, he maintains a rigorous observance of the disciplinary foundations of technical proficiency. He has been the recipient of gold and platinum records and music awards from across the globe including Europe, North America, UK, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

 

Vince was the co-writer of the Grand Prize winning song at the World Popular Song Festival. 

 

He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from RMIT and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript for his novel Baroque Days.

 

He has shared the stage with some of the world’s most popular acts including Culture Club, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Pet Shop Boys and Jamiroquai, as well as a who’s who of Australian music including Cold Chisel, The Angels, Skyhooks, Australian Crawl, Divinyls and John Farnham. He is co-director of Cultivator Records.

ricky muscat

Vocal

Ricky Muscat is a unique artist on the Australian music scene, coming to the attention of the Australian public in 2006 when he became a crowd favourite with his amazing success on Australian Idol.    

 

Ricky soon became a household name with a reputation that was further enhanced when he continued his run of TV successes displaying his prodigious vocal talent to millions of viewers across Australia while appearing on various television shows, culminating with an unforgettable performance at the AFL Grand Final.

 

Ricky’s career was bolstered in 2014 when he released two singles Girlfriend and Selfish with his band Muscat. His debut and sophomore recordings garnered huge support at radio at a national level highlighting in two top 50 iTunes chart positions. With Muscat, he has enjoyed touring across the country as well as sharing the stage with several international acts including Maxi Priest, Ashanti, 112 and Fat Joe.

 

The level of Ricky’s skills as a performer, vocalist, writer, teacher and artist is unparalleled, and his superlative experience enables him to coach and mentor with a peerless proficiency that is not only the result of his celebrated success and accomplishments but his exceptional dedication to the craft. 

 

Ricky has a Diploma of Music Performance with RSL Awards (London).

HELEN NICHOLSON

Vocal

Helen Nicholson’s career began as a child star singing and playing keyboards in

front of packed local venues for numerous events and charities. Now, as an integral

part of the most successful and popular cover bands of all time, Bjorn Again, she has

earned her place as one of the most hard-working, esteemed and professional

vocalists in Australia.

 

Having toured extensively in such places as North and South

America, India, China, South East Asia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and

South Africa, Helen’s experience is unmatched, reflecting in a vocal coaching and

mentoring style which is equally without peer.

 

Having performed to sold-out venues

across Australia for over ten years, including everywhere from the Sydney Opera

House to The Palais Theatre, to regular stints at Taronga Zoo and venues all over

the country, Helen’s dedication to music encourages a unique and captivating

experience for all vocal students, novice and professional alike.

 

She has appeared on both international and national TV, including such shows as The Morning Show, 60 Minutes, Landline and

A Current Affair. Helen has a background in actors’ management and an extensive knowledge of the casting process, having worked in this field with several Melbourne casting agencies. As well as guest appearances on TV dramas such as Stingers. 

 

In 2014 Helen appeared in Queen Bee, a one-woman, sold-out show at The Gasworks Theatre which attracted unanimous acclaim and

heralded a new facet of her career.

 

Helen has shared the stage with some of the

world’s most popular acts, including Lionel Ritchie, Culture Club and Village People.

More than just a seasoned and accomplished vocalist, performer and vocal coach, Helen is a specialist in her field with dozens of student devotees whose testimonies are communicated through their continued mentorship with her.

 

Not merely a vocal coach, Helen’s personal and exclusive methods of vocal and music coaching are accompanied and enhanced by her compassion and abundant generosity.

michelle fornito

Vocal

As one of Melbourne’s top female vocalists, Mish has shared the stage with some of Australia’s most iconic artists such as Diesel, Darryl Braithwaite, Samantha Jade and comedian Hamish Blake.

 

She is a well-respected teacher and mentor with an impeccable track record in the field of music education and performance and has a wealth of experience as a seasoned session vocalist.

 

Michelle has performed for many of Australia’s biggest shows and events, including Flemington Racecourse’ Melbourne Cup, the Grand Prix, Moonee Valley Racecourse Black Caviar Night, ANZA Ball in Singapore, Virgin Blue Airlines, ANZ, NAB, the Royal Melbourne Show, various AFL Best & Fairest Balls, Club Launches and Corporate Box games days, including 2016 Premiers Western Bulldogs Grand Final official after-party and Family Day for over 20,000 people. 

 

2017 also saw Michelle record the vocals for the official Western Bulldogs AFL Women’s team theme song, Daughters of the West, and a televised performance of the Australian National Anthem on Australia Day for Moonee Valley Racecourse.

kathleen halloran

Guitar/Bass

Kathleen Halloran is a multifaceted guitarist and bass teacher based in Melbourne. Kathleen has been gigging since the age of 14, building up years of experience as a working musician, including musical theatre, corporate, jazz and international tours.

 

The breadth of her talent and musical prowess make her one of the most sought-after guitarists in Melbourne, whose unique combination of experience, finesse and professionalism mark her as one of the most revered figures on the Australian music scene.

 

Kathleen has toured China three times with the Australian International Opera Company alongside a range of different artists, such as Broadway singer Brad Little. In Australia, Kathleen has worked with some of Melbourne’s finest musicians and musical directors.

 

She has shared the stage with some of the most critically acclaimed artists,  including Kate Ceberano, Kate Miller-Heidke, Tim Rogers, Steve Kilbey, Tex Perkins, Jen Cloher, Harry Angus, Thando, Benny Walker and jazz pianist Barney McAll. As an original artist, Kathleen leads her trio, performing regularly around Melbourne and presenting original contemporary jazz music.

 

As a teacher, Kathleen is an exemplary instructor, who is passionate about nurturing young students and developing the skills and confidence they need to find and explore their own musical voice.