We have a range of qualified Music, Art, Drama and Dance teachers who come with a high level of passion and experience in their field, many of them trained in special needs teaching. 


We are thrilled to present these teachers to you.

Celia Williamson

Company Founder, Director and Head of Music/Performing Arts

"Music has been a huge part of my life.  I learned piano at a young age, taking up piano accordion in my teens as well, learning both to a teaching standard. Since then I have learnt and taught many instruments and I love them all!  As long as I am hearing, playing or teaching music I am excited.


As a primary school teacher, I have taught both in the classroom and as a music specialist.  Eighteen years ago I became involved in the Orff-Schulwerk approach. From then on I attended numerous professional development courses in Orff Schulwerk in New Zealand and Australia, training to a high level in this methodology.  In 2013 I completed a four month Orff internship at the San Francisco School.


Consequently, music classes at Excite Academy are based on the Orff-Schulwerk approach. This approach begins with the idea that every child is inherently musical therefore each child is encouraged to contribute according to his or her ability.  More can be found out about this approach in the ‘philosophy’ section of our website."

Kimberley Williamson

Assistant Director and Head of Art

Kim completed a Bachelor of Media Arts at Wintec in 2014, majoring in Painting and Illustration. She recently returned to study and completed her postgraduate Honours in Painting. From the time she was young, Kim has been influenced by the arts and now loves to find creative new ways to share and teach her passions in the arts to others.


Kim heads up the Art Team, does all our graphics and maintains our website, and many other jobs around Excite.

Trish Harvey

Art Teacher

Trish has been a primary school teacher for the past 16 years, working full time at Aberdeen School in Dinsdale. While at University studying her Bachelor of Teaching she focused her optional papers on the arts, studying Music, Dance, Drama and Visual Arts.

Throughout her teaching career, the arts have always been an integral part of her programme, particularly her passion for the Visual Arts, and she is thrilled to be able to continue this journey here at Excite Music and Arts Academy.

Samantha Eva

Art Teacher

Sam is an award winning creative practitioner who loves to create through the means of visual art. She has recently finished her Honours in Painting and has started studying a Master of Arts. She is excited to pass all the knowledge she has gained throughout her years of study to the keen minds of Excite students.

Kylie Fisher

Art Teacher and Assistant

Kylie has been passionate about art from a young age ,indulging in all types of creative practice throughout her life. She is currently studying Graphic Design at Wintec which she hopes will further her career path into freelancing. Studying at Wintec has inspired her to start and accomplish many side projects such as commission paintings, an ongoing screen printed T-shirt business, graphics for small companies and her own personal creative projects.

Being part of a big family Kylie finds it easy to relate to every child no matter their capabilities and personality, and she loves seeing individual growth throughout her time with them. Teaching art and drama during her senior high school years to her younger peers fuelled Kylie's passion for teaching. Seeing each student’s creative expression through their medium inspired her to further herself and she plans to return to primary level tutoring.

Emma Wallace

Art Assistant

Emma is a highly talented artist, her passions being painting and illustration. She entered and won art competitions throughout her high school days, from there receiving orders for commissioned paintings from high school teachers.  This was the beginning of a trend that has continued to grow.


After completing high school, Emma studied her Bachelor of Media Arts at Wintec, graduating in 2017.  She also became a valuable team member at Excite Academy in 2017, assisting the art teachers and being hands-on in the art department.


Emma’s personal artworks can be viewed on her website

Ashiya Inglis

Art Assistant

Ashiya has been home educated for the past few years and started Art and Music classes with Excite Academy when it first opened.  She is a natural artist, and being the oldest of several siblings she has a natural rapport with children.  Ashiya assists the Art teachers and children during lessons and helps with holiday programmes.

Amy Chaplow

Art Assistant

Amy has always loved art and has fond memories of being a three-year-old Playcentre artist, creating masterpieces then helping the mums clean up paints and brushes.  She has been keen to  take part in anything art-related throughout her subsequent home education. 


In mid-2018, Amy discovered Excite Academy and has been actively engaged in their art classes ever since.  While helping with an Excite school holiday program, she found real enjoyment working with the younger artists and has joined the art team to continue that work.

Andrew Carter

Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drums and Band Teacher

Andrew is a multi-talented musician specialising in guitar and drums. He is the front man, vocalist and guitarist for a heavy metal band and has toured New Zealand, Australia and China performing his original songs. He is also an experienced music producer and has a vast musical knowledge in multiple genres - he's even composed a string quartet which was performed live at the Meteor Theatre at the end of 2018.

Andrew completed a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in Commercial Music at Wintec and graduated in 2018 receiving a special award for Sound Production.

Aside from music Andrew served as a volunteer fireman for 6 years and received a medal in 2017 for good conduct and dedication to his community.

Mitch Walker

Guitar and Drums Teacher

Music has been Mitch's passion and life since childhood, and after studying Commercial Music at Wintec he also found a passion for equipping other's creative expression through music. Mitch finds joy in seeing others learning and developing new skills. He began playing drums at 4 years old and has since collaborated with multiple bands, solo artists and other musical projects as a session drummer/producer/engineer, nationally and internationally.

Anna Grant

Piano Teacher

Anna is originally from South Korea and she has played the piano since she was 4. She has played the keyboard and organ at church for many years and recently started to learn guitar and ukulele. Her passion is learning new music and helping students improve their musical skills.  Anna has an ABRSM piano performance diploma and 15 years piano and English teaching experience. She recently moved near Hamilton with her Kiwi husband.


She is very excited to be working at Excite Academy and inspiring her students to play piano. 

Joshua Dawson

Piano Teacher

Josh took piano lessons from the age of seven, studying piano up to Grade 8 Trinity in high school.  He then went on to complete a four-year Bachelor's degree in piano with Honours, graduating in 2017. He has a particular interest in composing, and has written a number of works for the Waikato University choir as well as for the Hamilton Civic Choir.


Josh has accompanied students in a number of instrumental exams and competitions. He also works as an itinerant piano teacher at two local schools; is a staff member at Sistema Waikato (a music-based social development programme for primary school children); and tutors a drumming workshop with StarJam. He has also recently acquired a Trinity AMusTCL diploma in music theory.  

Nuwan Vithanage

Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello & Theory Teacher

Nuwan comes to us with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the music department.  He is a very proficient musician, music teacher and communciations lecturer at the Tertiary level. Originally from Sri Lanka, Nuwan learned String instruments and the Piano to a teaching level, earning his ATCL Trinity in Cello and Piano,  Guildhall School of Music & Drama Certificate in Pianoforte Performance, and a Bachelor of Arts with his major in Music. 


Since coming to New Zealand two years ago, Nuwan has continued to teach students to a tertiary level as well as prepare courses and lecture at University Level. Nuwan and his family recently moved from Invercargill to Hamilton to live.  He joins Excite Academy from Term 4 2020 onwards.

Ann Speed

Violin, Viola, Beginner Cello, Piano Teacher

Ann has a wealth of teaching experience, performance experience, qualifications and awards.

For the past 27 years she has been employed as an Upper Strings Tutor by the Music Service of the Southern Education band Library Board in Northern Ireland, teaching students from beginners through to taking them through all exams.  This role also included musical directorship of the South Ulster Youth Orchestra and the South Ulster String Orchestral.

Alongside her teaching career, Ann remains an active participant in semiprofessional orchestras and ensembles, both playing violin and making a contribution to directing.  Her most recent one was the Father McNally Chamber Orchestra and Vivaci.  She is experienced as a freelance musician performing all over Northern Ireland.

Ann moved to Hamilton a few months ago from Ireland with her kiwi husband and daughter to be near family and joins us from Term 3 2019 onwards.  

Tamsyn Forlong

Vocal and Performance Teacher

Tamsyn was a top student in vocal performance at Excel School of Performing Arts when she studied there. During her second year at Excel, Tamsyn toured New Zealand for six months singing pop, RnB, gospel and alternative rock.


Later on she was part of the team that toured Germany with the Hub Performing Arts Academy with the sole purpose of raising awareness about human trafficking. While there she led vocal technique and performance workshops in schools and youth centres.


Tamsyn has completed a Bachelor of Media Arts in Music at Wintec, majoring in Vocal Performance.

Vasa Faaosofia

Vocal and Guitar Teacher

Vasa is super excited to be a part of Excite Academy, allowing her to teach young students her passion for singing. She became interested in performing at the age of 5 after being influenced by a wide range of genres such as soul, RnB and pop music. Vasa graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts in Music at Wintec in 2017 and is currently studying towards her Honours degree, after she completed her first EP album as a solo artist.


As an experienced vocal performer, accompanist and coach, Vasa has been involved in various musical theatre acts around Hamilton including 'Rock of Ages', 'Shakespeare', and recently the Hamilton’s Operatic Society's show 'Sister Act' which was one of her biggest shows yet, working alongside some of Hamilton’s finest performers.

Vasa quotes: “The only thing better than singing is more singing.” – Ella Fitzgerald

Kelly Peterson

Drama, Speech and Drama and Musical Theatre Teacher

Kelly is thrilled to be teaching drama as a part of the Excite team. Kelly has had 15 years of experience acting in plays and musicals locally, and overseas. Her favourite performance was as Rosalind in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” which she performed on the Globe Stage in London. In 2019, Kelly completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies and Vocal Performance at the University of Waikato. She was also awarded the Hillary Medal for excellence in theatre, academics, and leadership. 

Kelly is passionate about teaching, and hopes to foster a love of the arts (and of learning) within her students. She feels that drama teaches many transferable life skills and is a true asset to every child’s education.

Johanna Claus

Dance, Drama, Vocal, Piano, Music Therapy Teacher

Johanna is a singer, choreographer and dancer from Germany.  She is a qualified singing, drama, dance and early childhood teacher with several years of teaching experience in Switzerland.  She has worked with students ranging in age from one and half to 40 years old, including special classes for children with learning disabilities, immigrants and refugees of different cultural backgrounds.  Johanna loves the world of performing arts, and in her classes she provides a creative learning environment where students feel safe and welcomed.

Johanna plays in different bands and writes her own songs.  In 2016 she founded her own dance collective, a formation of artists who create dance rituals alongside rivers in Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand.  During her Masters in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland, she worked together with Associate Professor Carol Brown and developed a strong interest in site-specific and somatic dance practice and Maori Culture.


She recently started her PhD in Dance Studies with Professor Karen Barbour at the University of Waikato.    

Erin Chester

Acro, Contemporary/Lyrical and Jazz Dance Teacher

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” - Friedrich Nietzsche.  This is the quote that Erin lives by.

Erin has spent a great deal of time dancing from around the age of three when they lived in England and her parents enrolled her in ballet, just like a lot of parents do, because seeing their little girl in a tutu is adorable!  Around the age of 13, she realised that dancing was something that she was serious about. Erin has been a part of Rise Dance Company in Tauranga since the age of 9, both as a pupil and a teacher.  Over the years, Erin has taken every opportunity available in front of her with open arms – e.g. taking part in hip hop performance and advanced contemporary groups at her dance studio, and competing regionally and nationally with her school for the DanceNZ Made competitions. Erin has more recently developed a passion for creating her own choreography. 


In 2018 Erin moved to Hamilton to study Primary Teaching and Business Management at the University of Waikato and to teach dance at Excite Academy. Her long-term goal is to open her own dance company.


Erin thrives on spreading her love for dance to people of all ages and experience levels. She believes that what makes a good dancer is knowing that there is always more to learn.

Lianhona Walus

Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz and Ballet Dance Teacher

Liahona (Lia) has trained in dance in New Zealand and the United States, completing a Masters Degree in Sport, Health and Human Performance recently completing her thesis on dance education.


Lia has many passions in the area of dance.  These include dance education for all ages, world dance studying and teaching a variety of cultural dances, conditioning and kinesiology for dancers, and has studied ballet, contemporary and creative dance.

Lia has choreographed and taught in a wide range of settings and is a fabulous dancer herself.  She has a background in voice, piano and general musicality. Having growing up with music and dance has made her an altogether well rounded person in the field of performing arts.

Liahn Herewini

Hip Hop Teacher

Liahn is a natural born performer! Starting out at the age of 7, she has learnt numerous styles of dance over the years with 10 years experience in American Jazz Ballet, Lyrical, Polynesian and Hip Hop. She was awarded Top Jazz exam results in New Zealand for her age group in 1998, Top Polynesian overall performer at Church College of New Zealand and Waikato Hula Mania Champion in 2008.  She has competed in a number of solo and group competitions, both regional and national. In 2008, her dance academy competed and placed 2nd in the varsity division at the 'Battlegrounds' National Australian Dance Competition.  Liahn was also the principal tutor and director of Lierra Dance School in 2015 until going on maternity leave at the end of 2016.


Liahn has successfully tutored College performing arts groups and assisted in creating their end of year performances. She has also completed her National Certificate in Personal Training Level 4 at the New Zealand Institute of Health and Fitness in 2013.


Liahn hopes to inspire and nourish this generations passion for dance in a fun learning environment through the art of Hip Hop.

Lauren Grout

Admin, Relief Flute and Piano Teacher

Born and raised in Gisborne, Lauren graduated from the University of Waikato with a Masters of Music with First Class Honours, and a Post Graduate Diploma under the tutelage of Luca Manghi. During her time at Waikato University she was runner up in the University Concerto Competition on three occasions, and competed in the ROSL chamber music competition. She is a Golden Key Scholar, the recipient of the Sir Edmund Hilary Scholarship, and received three Blues Awards.


In 2013 Lauren won the New Zealand Woodwind Competition and Best Performance of a New Zealand Work. In 2015 she travelled to Canberra where she was one of eight semi finalists, and the only New Zealand based competitor in the Australian Flute Festival Competition. Last year she travelled to Brisbane where she was a finalist in the Australian Flute Festival Competition and the only the New Zealand based competitor. 


Currently based in Hamilton, Lauren has been teaching flute and piano for 14 years and is a casual flute and piccolo player for various New Zealand orchestras.

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ph: (07) 444 5047
a: 29 Gilchrist Street, Avalon, Hamilton, 3288
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Mon - Thurs: 3.00pm - 6.00pm

Fri - Sat: 9.00am - 2.00pm

​Sunday: Closed

To find us follow the directions below:

- Follow the main signs to Wintec

- Turn LEFT into Akoranga Road at first roundabout

- Turn LEFT into Gilchrist Street at the second roundabout

- Drive past Wintec Carpark on right

- Turn RIGHT in open gate where big signage is

    and follow the green arrows

© 2016 by Excite Music and Arts Academy