A Number of Firsts in the May Exam Series

The May 2019 AMEB exam season is now completed for Top Notes Music Studio students and once again all the students worked very hard and been rewarded for their efforts.  Two students, Adhav Manoj Pillai and Menuli Silva, were complete novices to the AMEB exam experience and tackled Grade Two Flute with some uncertainty as to what to expect.  Both found the examiner very friendly and encouraging and emerged with High Credit passes.  Well done Adhav and Menuli!  Grace Chen tackled Grade One Flute, her first flute exam, although Grace has previously undertaken a piano exam.  Grace received an Honours pass which she was very pleased with.  Zeynep Unal, already an accomplished violinist, undertook her first piano exam and was awarded an Honours pass for Grade One.  And finally two AMEB exam veterans, Joyce Chen and Charlotte S both tackled Grade Five Flute.  Joyce, like her younger sister, Grace, passed with Honours and Charlotte received a High Credit grading.  A big congratulations to all the students who worked very hard to polish those scales and get their pieces up to a high standard.  Thank you also to the professional accompanists Daniel Sakoulas and Lyn Morgan who accompanied the higher grade students.  Undertaking a music exam challenges students to prepare their work to a high performance standard and to build confidence in dealing with the stressful situation of a practical exam.  It also gives students and parents an indicator of the level the student has achieved, and feedback on the written exam report helps the student and teacher set future goals.  Onwards and upwards!    

Using Music To Help Create Great Kids

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Caitlin still

Music lessons and exams are more than just an end in themselves.  They give us the skills  to be able to come together with others sharing similar interests and passion, and work as part of a team using our love of music to support the wider community.  Top Notes Music Studio was so proud on ANZAC Day to see student Caitlin Handel (fourth from left in photo) march in her first ever ANZAC Day Parade in the City.  Her Mum wrote, “Caitlin was very privileged to take part in the Sydney ANZAC Day March down Elizabeth Street with the 2019 Millennium Marching Band.  A very unique experience and one she was very proud to be a part of.”   Membership of the Millennium Marching Band is open to all students in Years 7-12 attending a government secondary school in New South Wales. Opportunities exist within the Band for instrumentalists, dancers and rhythmic gymnasts. There is a place for everyone with energy, commitment and a willingness to learn.  Caitlin only joined the Band at the end of 2018 and this is already her second high profile performance with them.  Why not think about expanding your musical horizons?  There are many great musical groups in The Hills for students to join.  Ask Cathy for suggestions.



Top Notes Music Studio farewells ‘Top’ Student

It is with great sadness that I report that Top Notes Music Studio is farewelling a ‘top’ student, Clara He, who transitions from primary school to high school in 2019 with a swag of musical achievements under her belt.  Having passed

IMG_0663her AMEB Grade Six Flute exam with a High Distinction this year, Clara has successfully auditioned for the Junior Rising Stars program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and will now move into an environment where she will benefit from tuition from some of Sydney’s finest flute teachers and performers.



Clara is no stranger to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music whershe is already a piano student in the Junior Rising Stars program and has completed her Certificate of Performance on Piano with Honours as well as the AMEB Music Craft Grade Four examination.

And to ‘top’ it all off Clara has been awarded a Full Music Scholarship to one of Sydney’s ‘top’ private girls’ schools.  We wish you the greatest success Clara as you embark upon these new and exciting musical ventures in 2019.  You are certainly a young lady we are going to hear much more about in years to come.  Best wishes from everyone at Top Notes Music Studio. 🎼🎵 🎹



Top Notes Family Give Back

So proud of Top Notes Music Studio student Hannah and her younger brother Sam who gave up a whole day of their school holidays to travel to Bowral with Sam’s clarinet teacher, Lindsay.  Hannah and Sam both performed on piano, and then took to their second instruments flute, and clarinet, to entertain and delight the audience of the nursing home with their performances.  It was a special moment for Sam and Lindsay, as Lindsay’s mother is a resident and was in the audience.  Congratulations to both young people for such a lovely way of sharing their talents and giving back to the community.  Lindsay said, “They played beautifully.  I am so proud of them both.”  Performing for audiences is also a great way to work on overcoming those performance nerves and developing confidence for more stressful situations like exams and auditions.

Top Performances at the Hills District Junior Music Festival Today!


It was a pleasure today to accompany three wonderful students who participated in the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW Hills District Junior Music Festival.  Joyce Chen (pictured) earned a Third Place against 13 competitors in the Intermediate Section, whilst her younger sister, Grace, gave her first public performance in the Novice Section.  Charlotte S also gave a wonderful performance and earned a Second Place from a field of 11 competitors in the Late Intermediate Section.  I was so proud of all the girls who put a lot of effort into polishing their performances and delighting the audience with their contributions.  Top Marks to these Top Notes students!

Another year draws to a close

Another year is fast drawing to a close at Top Notes Music Studio, exams are done, reports digested, results celebrated, and resolutions made for things to work more intensively on next year!  It is now time to congratulate all the students who took their nerves in hand and put themselves on the line to have their playing and their years efforts assessed.  Here they are: Caleb Chan – Grade 6 – Credit; Charlotte Choy – Grade 1 – High Distinction; Alyssa Collins – Grade 3 – Credit; Caitlin Handel – Grade 4 – High Credit; Clara He – Grade 5 (Recital) – High Distinction; Anika Pandey – Grade 1 – Honours; Caitlin Power – Grade 8 (Recital) – High Pass; Charlotte S – Grade 4 – High Pass; Hannah Wang – Grade 2 –  Honours.  Well done everybody – a relaxing holiday is now well deserved!


Sunday Successes!

Ten Top Notes Music Studio  students had a wonderful day showing off their talents last Sunday when they participated in the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW Hills District Junior Music Festival.  It was wonderful to see many students come well prepared and smartly dressed, and give impressive performances of pieces they have worked so hard on over the last few weeks.  Caitlin Handel and Anish Joseph received Participation Certificates, and the following students received special commendations from the adjudicators.  A special mention should be made of Charlotte Choy who was also awarded a Highly Commended for her piano performance in the Intermediate section.  Well done to everyone for participating – and being the only Woodwind representatives in the entire Festival!    

Elementary Section (Grades 1-2)

Elementary Section Prize Winners ~ Charlotte Choy (extreme left), Adhav Manoj Pillai (extreme right next to Adjudicator, Ken Leeson)

Charlotte Choy ~ Highly Commended
Adhav Manoj Pillai ~ Highly Commended

Anika Pandey ~ Highly Commended
Hannah Wang ~ Highly Commended




Intermediate Section (Grades 3-4)
Charlotte S ~ First Place
Joyce Chen ~ Third Place


Late Intermediate Section (Grades 5-6)
Clara He ~ Third Place
Carol Xu ~ Highly Commended

Charlotte Choy and Cathy






Honours All Round!

Three Top Notes Music Studio students entered for AMEB exams in this mid-year session, and I am very excited to report that all of them were awarded As (Honours) passes and glowing comments on their reports!  Congratulations to Clara He and Carol Xu who did Grade Four, and Joyce Chen who did Grade Two.  Fabulous results and well earned rewards for regular and consistent work.  Well done girls!!  Special thanks too to Clara’s Mum, Amy, who accompanied Clara and Carol so proficiently for rehearsals and on the day of the exams.   









Diploma Success for Top Notes Music Studio

It has been a very exciting week for Top Notes Music Studio, Pravin Chanmugam, his family and myself as we received the wonderful news that Pravin had been successful in his AMusA (Associate in Music, Australia) diploma exam conducted by the Australian Music Examinations Board.  At the age of 17 this is an outstanding achievement for Pravin, who is now entitled to use the letters after his name!  Pravin’s achievement will also be recorded on the Honour Board in his school’s Music Department, where he will be the first student in the school to have achieved the AMusA on Flute.  Pravin has managed to juggle preparation for this exam with many other extra curricular activities in a schedule that makes me feel positively exhausted just hearing about it!  He has been supported every step of the way by devoted parents who have been real partners in his musical journey. Thanks should also go to his brilliant accompanist, Anne Hopkins, who has been available for rehearsals late into the evening, and flute teachers Melissa Hoile and Jocelyn Fazzone who have given Pravin additional lessons, tips and pointers over the last few months.  I’m looking forward to some more relaxed times with Pravin playing duets in the months to come as he prepares for his next challenges – his driving test and the HSC!  


Charlotte Recommends Kids At The Con Holiday Workshops!

Holiday Workshops coming up: Tues 11 – Thurs 13 April

Following their sell-out success in January, the Kids at the Con Holiday Workshops are back again this April! They are fun and interactive as flute and piano student Charlotte found out last school holidays.  That’s Charlotte on the very right in the picture getting to experience making music in different ways and with different instruments, and having fun interacting with other children who love music just as much as she does.

One-hour workshops for 3-5 year olds: Tues 11th & Wed 12th April.

Half-day workshops for 6-10 year olds: Wed 12th & Thurs 13th April.

Click here to read more and book your child’s spot now!