Music Teachers’ Association Scholarship Awards

The Music Teachers’ Association of NSW, Newcastle Branch, presents their annual scholarships. Prizes for excellence will be awarded in the Nan Price Memorial Scholarship and the Joyce Blewitt Award for pianists, the Errol Collins Memorial Scholarship for violin, and the Wendy Ireland Award for cellists.

Applications for the violin and cello competitions and piano competition will be advertised on this website and on the MTA Facebook page later in the year. 

Christ Church Cathedral

Music Teachers’ Association of NSW

For over 100 years, the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW (until 1975 known as ‘The Musical Association’) has continued to fulfill the role of the professional organisation servicing the needs of studio music teachers within NSW.

MTA is administered by a Management Committee overseen by a Board who devote their time in a voluntary capacity to organise regular professional development workshops, conferences and seminars for teachers, scholarships for students and performance opportunities to encourage young performers.  Social events are also held at regular intervals, and all are welcome to attend.

Membership of the MTA is open not just to studio teachers, but to all those interested in furthering the work of the Association that includes maintaining high teaching standards in music education and promoting the study, practice and knowledge of music. The Association also aims to support and protect the character, status and common interests of studio teachers, whilst working to raise their prestige within the public arena.

The MTA is the only official organisation in NSW with the ability to offer Accreditation to qualified studio teachers, a role previously held by the Sydney Conservatorium. Whilst membership of the MTA is not a condition of Accreditation, it is hoped that all accredited teachers would wish to be part of this vital professional body.

As a service to the public, the Association also maintains a referral service for those seeking a music teacher. The Studio keeps members abreast with the latest developments in music education and subscriptions to the journal are open to all.

The Association has two branches, Newcastle and Illawarra, that care for the needs of members in those particular regions. MTA was established in 1981 and recently celebrated 40 years of operation in Newcastle.

Nan Price Memorial Scholarship for Pianists

Nan Price was a renowned pianist, teacher and examiner who performed often as an accompanist and was an exceptional sight-reader. A graduate of the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Price went on to teach at the Conservatorium of Music in Newcastle, having lived there as a child. Nan Price also taught in later years at the University of Wollongong Conservatorium.

Following the establishment of Newcastle’s branch of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW, Price conducted numerous workshops and masterclasses for the association, which were highly sought after amongst the music community. Her explicit teaching and high standards were key to the success of the workshops. Price was also well-respected for her expertise in performing works by Beethoven.

In Price’s legacy, the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW (Newcastle Branch) established an annual award in her name, awarding over twenty successful recipients since her passing. Alumni of the award include pianists Frances Ross, Michael Power, William Cesta and Nicholas Kennedy who have all gone on to pursue careers in music.

“Lovely to hear of a scholarship in the name of Nan Price. She was my piano teacher, a phenomenal music educator and pianist whom I adored and respected hugely.” Alexandra D’Elia

“Nan Price was a HUGE influence on me. I studied with her from age 5 until the end of high school (age 17), and then studied for a BMus at Sydney Uni studying piano with Elizabeth Powell at the Sydney Con.” David Piper

Wendy Ireland Award for Cellists

Wendy Ireland OAM was a cellist, conductor, composer and teacher with a life-long involvement in music education. A conservatorium graduate in 1980, majoring in cello and studying with Algimantis Motiekaitis, Ireland later obtained a Master of Music (performance) degree at the University of Newcastle (2001), majoring in conducting and the development of string ensemble programs.

As a professional cellist, teacher and conductor, Ireland held positions with the Sydney and Newcastle Conservatoriums, the Hunter Orchestra, the Sydney Youth Orchestra and a number of schools in the Sydney, Newcastle and Central Coast regions. Ireland was the founding Director of Newcastle’s Hunter Strings, a group which fostered the development of many fine musicians, many of whom now play professionally. 

Ireland began composing for choirs and stringed instruments in 2001. In 2004, five of her children’s songs were selected and subsequently published by Alfred Publishing Australia. In 2002 Ireland began a long-term project of writing and self-publishing an extensive Junior School String program, titled Exploring Strings. Ireland was offered representation as an Associate artist by the Australian Music Centre in 2005.

Ireland had works commissioned and recorded by a wide range of youth ensembles and choirs, including Hunter Singers and Newcastle Grammar School. Two of her viola pieces were included in the 2007 AMEB syllabus and her song Mosquitoes was selected for the 2007 ABC Sing book.

Ireland’s last commissions included a work for string orchestra Mala Rain for the 2016 Festival of Instrumental Music at the Opera House, and a series of works, subtitled ‘Kitty Miniatures’ for viola and piano, for an anthology of viola works by women composers commissioned by Dr Cora Cooper, Professor of Violin at Kansas State University.

Ireland was the Coordinator of Strings at Sydney Girls High School where she directed the School’s Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Sinfonia. She also directed the senior string orchestra at Moriah College. She was a regular guest conductor and workshop presenter for many regional schools and Conservatoriums in NSW.

Wendy Ireland passed away peacefully on 25 December 2018.

In 2020, Wendy Ireland was posthumously awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to music education, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Originally published by the Australian Music Centre, and reproduced with permission.

Wendy Ireland (2016) Photo: Christopher Ireland

Errol Collins Memorial Scholarship for Violinists

Errol Collins OAM was born in Merewether, where his grandfather had owned Glebe Colliery. Both his father and mother were of the first Australian born generation of their respective families. His father became an electrician, his mother an artist. 

Errol’s love of violin began with tuition at Tighes Hill Convent, where he worked very successfully through AMEB grades, gaining considerable experience in performance. 

On leaving school, Errol followed his father’s wishes in gaining “Fitting & Turning” trade at Stewart’s and Lloyd’s, acquiring skills he proudly used throughout life. Through these years (his heart being with violin), he somehow managed advanced study in Sydney with Cyril Monk, then Jasche Gopinko.

Leaving Stewart’s and Lloyd’s, Errol was delighted to accept a solo spot for the Newcastle season of vaudevillian tent show “Barton’s Follies”, and to continue through their extensive Northern Tour.

Wanting to further his Classic experience, Errol returned home to perform at every opportunity (sonata recitals, ABC broadcasts, musicales, civic, community, church, charity, private functions), and to establish a teaching studio. As his studio thrived,  he formed a Junior String Orchestra.

When Newcastle Conservatorium (a branch of the state Conservatorium) opened February 1952, Sir Eugene Goosens appointed Errol a foundation member of staff, on the strength of his performance, teaching studio, and orchestra. 

During 1955-56, Errol took leave to study with Max Rostal in London, and on his return, taught at both Sydney and Newcastle Conservatories, was appointed examiner and teacher demonstrator with AMEB, and was an active member – later presiding over the String Board. Errol was also the foundational President of the MTA Newcastle Branch.

During the 1970’s (maybe in reminiscence of vaudevillian days), Errol, together with Rosemary Allen (piano), and Ray Cairney (guitar), performed light entertainment on the Sydney Club Circuit. This venture was extremely successful, leading to a range of exciting performances throughout his working life.  Though much of his work was in Sydney, and through the Eastern States, Newcastle was always his home.

Boating, fishing, photography, astronomy, archery/target shooting – and always books, were amongst his interests and hobbies – even to the point of making a landing net, archery bow, and a telescopic lens. Errol lived life abundantly: his greatest loves being his family, his violin, and his beloved hometown.

On Australia Day 2003 Errol Collins was awarded an OAM “for service to the community of Newcastle through music”.


Errol Collins OAM teaching violin to the Australian actor, Chips Rafferty, who was 6 foot 5 inches tall. Reproduced with kind permission. Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, [Australian Photographic Agency - 09518]
This photo appeared in The University of Newcastle Bulletin, 1/92, February 28, 1992. The text was: "The Faculty of Music and Conservatorium celebrates 40 years of teaching and performance this year. Left to right around the cake are: Mr Eric Aubert (former Vice-Principal), Mr Michael Dudman (Dean of Music), Professor Keith Morgan (Vice-Chancellor, Mrs Shila Reid (Foundation member of Administration Staff, Conservatorium) and Mr Errol Collins OAM (Foundation Teacher of Violin). Permission kindly given by the University of Newcastle History Collection, held by the University of Newcastle Special Collections.

Joyce Blewitt Award for pianists

A personal recollection by Philip Sketchley

Miss Joyce Lillian Blewitt OAM was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1994, in recognition of her services to music education.

I first met Miss Blewitt in 1959 when she was my teacher for piano and music theory. This association continued unbroken for thirty-four years, during which time she provided support, advice, instruction and inspiration. Miss Blewitt not only taught me piano and music theory; she also coached me in English, Ancient History, Psychology of Education and the History of Music as part of my school Leaving Certificate, and then for my Diploma of Music Course at Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.

Miss Blewitt was born in 1914 in Morpeth, the daughter of Clarence and Emma Blewitt. Miss Blewitt was herself a fine pianist, and her skill was first publicly reported in 1936 following a recital organised by her then teacher, Mr. George H. Young, in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hamilton.

“The outstanding item was the Mendelssohn “Concerto in G Minor” Op. 25, which introduced Miss Joyce Blewitt (pianist). Miss Blewitt showed good keyboard control in the first movement. Contrast was shown in the tranquil mood of the second subject, and the bravura style of the opening theme. In the andante movement, the pianist’s touch was delicate.” (Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW: 1876 – 1954), Wednesday 23 December 1936, page 3 – from Trove, National Library of Australia.)

Miss Blewitt married in 1944, to Clifford McCready, who became a pharmacist, based in Broadmeadow. Miss Blewitt used her maiden name as a teacher. She gave freely of her time and energy and was always available for advice and encouragement. She projected a quiet, unassuming image, while having the intellectual capacity of a giant in subjects ranging from languages to all aspects of the humanities. She constantly read and studied and was involved with hundreds of students. Her analytical skills and ability to perceive concepts and ideas in her role as music educator, both as a private teacher or in a public class situation, was always amazing. She followed the teaching methods of Englishman Tobias Matthay, which are currently undergoing a resurgence of interest.

There was no task Miss Blewitt would not tackle and conquer in her quest for the development of a young or mature student’s music and general development. The general saying amongst students was “Go and see Miss Blewitt; she will get you through that essay, assignment or exam!”

The number of hours given by her, free of charge to hundreds of students, would be impossible to calculate, reflecting her unselfish and giving nature to the field of music education. Miss Blewitt never turned a student away and often worked until early morning to help a distressed or needy student complete an assignment or prepare for an examination.

She was an outstanding teacher in her field of music, and had the magical quality of being able to draw the very best from her students at all times. Her example of dedication, discipline and sheer determination to grasp a task and see it through was enough by itself to encourage a positive response from her students. It gave me great pleasure to be part of a move to recommend an Australian Honours Award to Joyce Blewitt.

Miss Blewitt died in 2004. The countless hours given by Joyce Blewitt to the young musicians of Newcastle and beyond, over a lifetime, earned a place for her in the Australian honours roll. A more caring and unselfish music educator would be difficult to find.

Philip Sketchley
B.Mus. Ed, DSCM, Dip. Music Ed. L.Mus.A. LTCL
Harold Lobb Concert Hall and Concert Manager (1988-2012?}


Joyce Blewitt
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