Improvisation is a completely different way of approaching the piano compared to classical piano. Improvisation means learning to play from the heart, as opposed to from a sheet. It is like learning a new language - before you learn to speak a new language, you have to study grammar, syntax and vocabulary to a basic level of proficiency - then you can learn to speak and communicate. The same is true of improvisation. Instead of grammar, syntax and vocabulary, the basic 'building blocks' of music are melody, harmony and rhythm, all of which must be studied separately before being put together.
My lessons are structured to gradually improve all three aspects of musicality, with exercises learnt from some of the most renowned improvisers of the 20th century. My style is particularly indebted to the Barry Harris school of jazz improvisation. The exercises I use are all based on a fine balance between creativity and theoretical understanding - they gradually nurture and develop the students ability to compose music spontaneously while training their conceptual understanding of the 'inner language' of music.
I have been teaching piano, particularly jazz piano, improvisation and composition for over five years. I have taught students of all levels, including advanced players and beginners. Many of my students come from a classical piano background but have become disillusioned with the uncreative, repetitive nature of their traditional piano practice.
PhD - UCL (History of Psychology)
MA - King's College London (Philosophy)
BA - University of Sussex
ABRSM Grade 6 and Music Theory Grade 5 (completed 2007)
I completed the final practical ABRSM exam I took in 2007, when I was 13. I loved piano, but felt restricted and disillusioned with the uninspiring and uncreative nature of the ABRSM Classical course. I found a piano teacher who began to teach me improvisation at Westminster School, and started on my journey to becoming a proficient improviser. Unfortunately, there are few qualifications which credit improvisation in modern music in the UK, but you can get a sense of my aptitude from my teaching experience, testimonials and YouTube videos.
September 2016 – Ongoing
I teach for many different companies, including Chelsea & Fulham Tutors, Osbourne Cawkwell Tuition, Tutorfair and Tutorhouse. I have taught Classical piano and Grade exams and achieved excellent results in final exams, but I specialize in jazz piano, improvisation and composition.
I’m very grateful for being able to teach the subject I love, and to be able to inspire students. I have had great feedback from my students, and have developed very strong working relationships with them. I have found that teaching requires great patience, concentration, and most of all, the ability to adapt communication and teaching methods to suit the pupil’s strengths and needs.
‘Thank you Ollie for the wonderful lessons’ – Dina, 2019
‘Really inspired my son – we will continue!’ – Sabine, 2016
‘Thank you Ollie for bringing the subject to life – really couldn’t have done it without you.’ – Sophie, 2018
• Experience teaching at all levels and in different styles (classical and jazz).
• Experienced teaching across all age-groups
• Fluency in two languages (English, Italian), and conversational or literary aptitude in several others (French, German, Spanish).
• An ability to explain complex music theory in a digestible manner.
• Empathy, patience and understanding.
Perfect! Loved the improv approach
Thanks for the lesson James. Was good fun. Drop me a message if you need help with any aspect of practice. See you next week :)
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