I began the piano at about 8 year's old, teaching myself using my sister's piano books. My parents had the foresight to ignore that I said I didn't want lessons (my peers all had lessons and hated practising - I loved it and didn't want that ruined) and I was lucky enough to have an amazing and wonderful man as a teacher who became a lifelong friend until his death some 20 years ago. Although he didn't benefit my technique, he nurtured my enthusiasm with encouragement and love, and being lucky enough to have fairly good fingers I raced through the exams and maintained my absolute love of playing.
At the same time I enjoyed dancing, and as I got older I didn't want to give up either that or my playing so I went to Middlesex University to do a Performing Arts Degree, which covered everything connected to the arts, and which allowed for personal focus on the areas on which a student wanted to concentrate. I stuck to piano, flute, which I later changed for harpsichord, and dance and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I never wanted to be a concert pianist but enjoyed all the performing, accompanying, singing and dancing in which I could participate.
The idea of teaching hadn't hit home so I worked on the periphery of the theatrical profession in West End Theatres and Music shops until I ended up at the BBC, which was probably my first 'proper job', i.e. with a yearly salary which made life a bit more stable and at least was still in the media (as opposed to construction, where I also worked for a year, though not in a hard hat!). Various jobs followed, all of which have all been useful in my life as a piano teacher. Finally, I was made redundant from a Radio Production Company who had changed hands and lost its manager. I'd never felt fulfilled so having been placed without a job felt like a gift, and I was fortunate enough to be able to take time out until I knew in which direction I wanted life to follow.
I was still playing the piano for myself and after a year or so I started to get the urge to share my love of music and the instrument with other people. From early acorns and a couple of pupils, only one year later and I was a fully grown oak tree with over 40 students! I've had between 40 and 50 ever since and it has been fulfilling and fun.
At the same time that I started teaching I met Nelly Ben Or, the leading exponent for using the principles of the Alexander Technique in piano playing. The principles seemed so logical and sound that I couldn't wait to apply them to my own playing, and then once absorbed in me, with my own students. It took me tremendous dedication and hard work to change the habits of a lifetime and I continue to work towards even more freedom, and even more clarity, but the benefits were so enormous that I try to foster the same clarity, freedom and expression in my own students so that they don't have to undo everything at a later stage.
I am primarily a classical pianist, and teach in the classical tradition, but have been playing jazz for about 10 years, most recently gigging with Freefall jazz, so can offer jazz lessons too.
I've had various articles printed (for my experience with the Alexander Technique at the piano click on the Articles link above), and have written guest blogs for ‘A Piano Teacher Writes’ (@crosseyedpianist)
Piano playing and the Alexander Technique
“Intelligent practice and the whole use of self is a much more economic and valuable use of time”
Curiosity in piano playing
"curiosity is one of the magical things for me about learning and practising at the piano"
Guidance for parents of young piano students
’help from parents can be the difference between success and not getting off the starting block’
Book: Piano Teaching As A Career
Music Teacher Magazine
"A gem and a 'must 'read' for aspiring piano teachers and those already teaching in need of refreshment" - reader's review
"It gave me plenty of food for thought. I will keep dipping into this book" reader's review