Who and what do I teach?
I am willing to teach anyone who wants to learn, and my students are of all ages and ability. I teach classical piano to advanced level (conservatoire entrance exam and diploma level), and also teach jazz piano to intermediate level. I can teach all aspects of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and Trinity and Guildhall syllabuses for piano and theory, but my priority is always to help my students develop as rounded musicians and to give them a love of music and performing while avoiding the common fear of ‘getting it wrong’.
Examination and competition in music can often lead to a lack of enthusiasm and motivation to play, and in some cases, can turn people against music altogether! I do however recognise that in our present society achieving grades can sometimes be necessary for further education and recognition in the professional world.
I am passionate about learning music, and believe that everybody should sing or play an instrument. I don’t however believe that tuition is necessary to play music and I find it a shame that so many people have instruments in their homes but don’t play them, often because they think they’re unable without the professional instruction of a teacher. All you need to play great music is to be around it as much as possible, enjoy it, and to have a good relationship with the instrument you play.
The role of the teacher
If you don’t need a teacher to play music, why have one?
I think that it is the teacher’s job to show their students that learning music is fun and to help them feel motivated so that they want to keep playing when they leave the lesson. To recognise and encourage a student’s strengths and abilities is also important so that they can develop a love of music that will stay with them for life. Everyone is a musician, and everyone deserves the chance to find out how to express him, or herself through music.
The role of the student
To enjoy themselves!
Learning music should be a joy and should always be done with the spirit of the music in mind. Music is a language, and like a language, music has several elements: listening, playing or singing, reading and writing (composition and theory). It is important that all of these elements are learnt in context to one another, and within the context of making music.
When taking lessons, students should be engaged with the subject of music as well their instrument, and should not be solely concerned with the technical aspects of their playing.
My teaching experience
Part of my degree course at the RNCM involved a comprehensive two-year training in the art of teaching. I felt enthusiastic about teaching before I had even started because of the ten years of wisdom and imagination I’d had learning with Judith Burton.
During the final year at the RNCM, I received a pedagogy award from the European Piano Teacher’s Association and on completion of my MMus, moved back to London to begin my career. I immediately started teaching at Dunottar School in Reigate, where I stayed for eight years. Now I am delighted to be teaching at St. Catherine's School for Girls in Bramley, and at the Junior department of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
I also taught for three years on the international Language and Music For Life junior course, where I gave individual lessons, coached chamber groups and accompanied. The students my husband (Paul) and I teach privately are all treated (along with their parents) to a big Christmas party every year where we drink mulled wine, eat food and most importantly, make music in a casual and social context.
I hold regular, annual concerts, in order to give students an opportunity to perform to friends and family in an informal, relaxed environment, and Paul and I give occasional workshops on various aspects of playing music. We are also planning outreach projects, where we will take groups of students into nursing homes so they can see for themselves, the wonderful effects music can have on people.
“ Thank you so much for such a fantastic year. I could’t have asked for a better, more dedicated teacher! You have supported me in so many ways which has not only boosted my confidence, but has helped me to enjoy music even more!”
Laura Elliott, past student currently studying music at the RNCM