Conductor and flautist Karen O’Keefe says teaching the Amadeus Music Education Program in Sydney Catholic Schools held strong appeal because it suited her lifestyle goals. Here she shares the perks of her role as an instrumental tutor. 

“Starting my own music tutoring business, I found the before and after school hours very challenging with a family of my own,” said Ms O’Keefe.

“I then heard about the Amadeus program and it sounded like a fabulous opportunity.”

Ms O’Keefe has been teaching the Amadeus Music Education Program in 10 Sydney Catholic schools since January 2021. Her students are in Year 4 to Year 7.

“I feel like I’ve found my dream job; working within schools, teaching music, and feeling like I’m making a difference in students’ lives”

“Instruments and lessons can be expensive, so when I understood that SCS were removing this financial barrier for families, enabling all students to have access to this program, I felt that this was an organisation that aligned with my own personal values and a program that I would very much like to be a part of bringing music to all,” Ms O’Keefe said.

Holy Spirit College Lakemba students take part in a zoom Amadeus music lesson

Holy Spirit College Lakemba students take part in a zoom Amadeus music lesson with Karen O’Keefe.


Sydney Catholic Schools’ (SCS) exciting new Amadeus Music Education Program is being rolled out across 42 SCS primary and secondary schools in Term 1, 2022, following a successful pilot program in the Auburn-Lakemba area.

As part of this program, students in Year 3 to Year 8 participate in small group and ensemble music lessons delivered by specialist teachers, like Ms O’Keefe. Students are also provided with a string, woodwind or brass instrument which they will take home to practice.

Benefits of music

Research shows that music:

  • Boosts brain power
  • Promotes wellbeing
  • Improves language and maths skills, memory and coordination

The job perks

According to Ms O’Keefe, job satisfaction and making a difference are among a list of reasons to apply to teach the Amadeus Music Education Program.

The reality is that being a private music tutor can be stressful.

Ms O’Keefe said being a salaried Amadeus instrumental tutor has removed the financial burden of worrying about whether students will show up and being well enough to teach.  

“It is so refreshing to be paid every fortnight,” Ms O’Keefe said. “This also means no more invoicing and will certainly make tax time so much easier.”

She well remembers the strain the school holidays used to put on her wallet.

“As a private tutor we tend to have school holidays off,” Ms O’Keefe explained. 

“Now, with this role, we get paid through the holidays and we can truly enjoy them. We also accrue personal leave, which is a big plus.”

The flutist said being part of a team of tutors was another positive of the role.

“I’m really enjoying going to schools and building a connection with staff and fellow tutors, as opposed to often working on my own privately”

About Karen O’Keefe

Ms O’Keefe holds a Bachelor of Music.

“I played professionally in Newcastle for several years before moving to Sydney,” she said. 

“Since being in Sydney I have had performances with the Marrickville Symphony Orchestra and Mosman Symphony Orchestra, as well as playing in my own folk band.

“I’m currently playing in a flute ensemble at Flute Tree [in Leichhardt] and am really enjoying my full-time return to music and teaching.”


Sydney Catholic Schools is currently looking for more instrumental tutors and classroom music teachers to teach the Amadeus Music Education Program.

“The Amadeus Program is a wonderful opportunity to have an influence on the lives of literally hundreds of young people,” said Phillip Scollard, Principal of Holy Spirit Catholic College Lakemba which has been offering the program since Term 1, 2021.

“You will be part of a major project that will only grow and get bigger. Added to that, the fantastic collegiate experience and all the professional learning that goes with the role.”