Sharny Russell

Seasoned Australian jazz artist, ABC jazz recording artist, and APRA & Australian Song Writing Competition award winner, Sharny Russell’s vocal and pianistic talents are recognised throughout the Australian music (especially jazz) community. She is widely known for her vocal scat ability, which she often performs in unison with her piano.

Sharny grew up learning the language of music from her mother – playing piano by ear, finding harmonies, learning to accompany, playing spontaneous duets – and taking “proper” piano lessons, performing in eisteddfods (both singing and playing) and doing exams from ages 4 to17. She enrolled in the 3 year course at Queensland Conservatorium of Music and studied piano under the famous and prodigious Nancy Weir, who had come from the piano lineage of Ada Corda (Melbourne), Paderewski and Artur Schnabel.

Sharny was selected to pioneer the brilliant Yamaha Music Courses in Adelaide and South Australia. She studied early childhood development, and techniques for building musicianship in children, rather than simply teaching them to read music and play an instrument. This has influenced Sharny’s attitude toward teaching for her entire life. Build the musician. She has taught and work-shopped at a number of universities and conservatoriums in the eastern states Australia – in composition, keyboard skills, vocal, arranging and improvisation. She keeps as up to date as possible with the latest techniques in vocal teaching, and is currently on staff at Australia’s Jazz Music Institute located in Brisbane, where visiting lecturers come from all over the world at various times.

Sharny was flown down to Adelaide University’s Jazz Course once a month to teach the vocal students for 4 intensive days. Head of school wanted Sharny as permanent fractional teacher on Uni staff but the position did not get funded. After she decided not to do the monthly trip for a second year, Michelle Nicolle was employed for fortnightly visits from Melbourne. She comes from a family of music teachers – her mother Peg Russell having been a dedicated teacher all her life, mentoring many fine young musicians, and her brother, sister and sister-in-law also teachers at university level. Two of her own daughters are also fine teachers of singing and piano. Family dinners can too easily becoming long discourses on teaching philosophies, techniques and experiences, much to the disdain of other family members!