Instrumental Music Staff
Music Academy Leader
Jim Griffiths is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and band manager of Melbourne Soul band That Gold Street Sound. He has extensive performance experience both solo and as part of his band. Music career highlights include winning ‘Best Live Act’ at St. Kilda Festival (2018), Playing the main stage at St Kilda Festival (2019), winning ‘Album of the week’ in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald (2019), and has had a single rank number 8 on the AMRAP regional charts (2019). Jim has performed at many large festivals including; St Kilda Festival, Summer of Soul, Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival and Moomba.
Jim has been writing and performing music since he himself was in highschool. He views this as an essential life skill where creativity, self-confidence, self-expression, and a sense of belonging evolve through performance, writing and playing music. Jim teaches 21st century skills through music, and creates a safe space for students to express themselves, connect with the community and build resilience through this art form.
Sam Bates is a Melbourne based drummer/composer specialising in jazz and improvised music, as well as contemporary rock and popular music. He has worked with a variety of artists including; Mark Fitzgibbon, Scott Tinkler, Sam Anning, Katie Noonan, Ella Hooper and Christine Anu. Other career highlights include;
- Twice a finalist in the National Jazz Awards
- Recipient of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music Fellowship
- Winner of The Alan C Rose Memorial Trust Scholarship
Bates has released three studio albums that have enjoyed critical praise, including a 4.5-star review in The Australian newspaper for Backblocks released on Newmarket Music in 2014. His late 2019 release Wolfy has also garnered a positive response, and is available at all good on-line music stores.
Strings; Violin, Viola
Paloma has over a decade of teaching and playing experience in Melbourne, Argentina and Uruguay and is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts.
Alongside playing classical music, Paloma has specialised in tango music, spending 6 years studying and performing in Argentina. She is an active performer in Melbourne, playing contemporary classical music as well as tango.
Paloma believes teaching needs to be playful and inventive, every student's way of learning is different. She likes to incorporate different styles of music in her teaching repertoire aside from classical music. Paloma also draws on her experience from teaching yoga; incorporating movement and body (postural) awareness to avoid tension whilst playing.
Voice / Guitar
Combining 70s folk influences with a contemporary Americana sound John Flanagan has drawn comparisons to James Taylor and Paul Kelly and been described as “one of Australia’s finest lyricists” (Timber & Steel). His 2016 release ‘There’s Another Way To Where You’re Going’ was nominated for best Folk/Roots Album in the Age Music Victoria Awards, was featured on ‘album of the week’ lists for ABC and community radio and was a radio favourite around the country. “The music is just gorgeous, I absolutely love it” (Felicity Urquhart, Saturday Night Country ABC Radio).
His 2018 release Honest Man (John Flanagan Trio) garnered praise at home and abroad “With harmonies as pure as a mountain stream and musical prowess… John Flanagan Trio deliver perfection with the release of Honest Man” –LA Music Critic (US). In 2019 John toured outback and regional Australian towns for 7 weeks as part of the Festival of Small Halls. He can often be found on the folk festival circuit with his trio, delivering an energetic live set that varies from light and uplifting to moving and thoughtful. In 2020 John has begun work on a new album expected for release in 2021.
Melbourne-based woodwind artist and teacher Tony Hicks has performed across Australia and internationally since the late 1970s. He maintains a dynamic jazz and creative improvisation practice, and works across a range of commercial contexts including TV and recording studios, theatre orchestras, big bands and productions by small arts organisations.
Tony has worked as a woodwind specialist playing flutes, clarinets and saxophones in professional orchestras for over one hundred musicals including Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar, and currently records for nationally broadcast TV shows such as Dancing With the Stars, Australia’s Got Talent and The Masked Singer. Other credits include performances with Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder, and with jazz legends Billy Cobham and Randy Brecker.
Between 2000 and 2014 he performed and recorded with the Australian Art Orchestra, and was a key player in Crossing Roper Bar, the orchestra’s award winning collaboration with indigenous Wagilak songmen from Ngukurr, Arnhem Land.
He traveled to Chennai, India, in 2016 for a collaboration with Guru Karakudi R Mani and his Sruthi Laya Ensemble that was broadcast live to the international audience of Jaya TV, and has worked with the Monash Art Ensemble in collaborations with various international composers and performers including George Lewis, Django Bates, Vijay Iyer and Barney McAll.
As well as teaching woodwinds and bands at Macleod College and Melbourne Girls College, he tutors at Melbourne Polytechnic.
For more info and to listen to recordings, visit:
Matthew is a Pianist, Songwriter, Composer, Arranger & Producer, whose musical predilections extend from jazz improvisation and formal classical studies to soul, rnb, rock, hip hop and electronic beat production. He has performed at local music festivals such as Splendour in the Grass, Meredith Music Festival and WOMAD, and international festivals such as Secret Garden Party (UK), Glastonbury (UK), Fusion Festival (Ger) and Sziget (Hun).
Brass / Classroom
Declan Jones studied jazz and classical trumpet at Victorian College of the Arts and Monash University and is teaching brass instruments at Macleod College. He is a versatile performer and plays regularly with many ensembles including New Orleans Brass Band, Colombian Salsa, Mexican Mariachi, Nigerian Afrobeat, Hawaiian Exotica and Indian Bollywood.
Declan has toured extensively with the bollywood/Indian funk band Bombay Royale, some highlights include Glastonbury festival, Sziget (Budapest), WOMAD in Australia, New Zealand and England and GlobalFest at Webster Hall (NYC.) He has performed with touring artists including Nashville soul singer Charles Walker, indie rock band from Austin, Texas - Spoon, and the New Jersey metalcore band - Dillinger Escape Plan. Declan’s afrobeat ensemble The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra is collaborating with the Nigerian artist Femi Kuti in August.
Andy O’Connell is a well-respected music educator and experienced performer. For over 20 years he has directed the award winning Blackburn High School Senior Stage Band and has achieved international recognition for the program, involving invitational guest performances in the USA on three occasions, for the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), The Monterey School Jazz Festival and most recently at the Mid West Band Clinic in Chicago. This year the band was also the first ever school band from Australia to play in the prestigious Essentially Ellington Online Festival in New York. Andy’s educational focus is heavily influenced by his own career as a performer and composer.
For many years, Andy has led the well-known ‘Old School’ Funk/ Disco band ‘Reverend Funk’. Incorporating key industry players, he has been musical director of this group and has subsequently recorded and performed with artists including Vika and Linda Bull, Ella Thompson, Matt Hetherington, Tanya Doko and Garry Pinto. Concurrently, Andy is involved in a number of other projects including Nina Ferro’s Aretha Franklin Show, The Australian Tower of Power Band – Off The Leash, and Steve Sedergreen’s – Points In Time Band. Andy has worked as a sideman in many groups and this has seen him perform and record with many different artists including Bob Valentine, Marty Fields, Rich DeRosa (University of North Texas) and Vincent Gardiner (Jazz At Lincoln Centre). He also plays with a number of big bands including the Matt Amy Big Band and The Tim Davies Australian Big Band. Andy maintains a busy performance schedule in addition to his instrumental teaching on Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute and Oboe along with many ensemble settings across a range of styles and disciplines. He currently teaches at Blackburn High School, Doncaster Secondary College and Macleod College.