There's a Russian saying: "Within each of us sleeps a genius. And with every passing day, it sleeps more soundly. If you want to waken it, I'll be happy to assist you with all my knowledge and experience.
- Which subject(s) do you teach?
* I teach Classical, Jazz and R&B Piano.
* Students requesting jazz instruction will be given additional training in improvisation, reading from chord/lead sheets and playing by ear, and will regularly receive mp3s that I've created to make practice more effective and enjoyable. Classical pupils will also receive mp3s where appropriate (e.g. for duet playing or for learning difficult cross-rhythms).
* I also teach music theory and history for music-degree students, grade-exam students, and for diploma/licentiate students' programme notes (within the relevant regulations).
* Pupils at diploma level and above can, on request, receive tuition on how to teach piano themselves, including trial lessons that I will monitor.
- Tell me about your qualifications.
I hold a BMus degree and a Doctorate in music.
I also studied at the Liszt Academy, Hungary (1988-90), participated with distinction in the Vienna Masterclasses (1987), and was judged best pianist at the Jamey Aebersold Jazz School, London (2006).
- How much do you charge?
My standard rate is £40 per hour for pupils in full-time employment, and £35 for university/conservatoire students.
I'm happy to negotiate my standard rate on a case-by-case basis, such as lower rates for diploma/licentiate candidates if their resources don't stretch to my full rate.
My rates include some assistance as necessary between lessons (at my discretion), including consultation by email and the occasional provision of mp3 files that I create for students for practice purposes.
- Where do you teach?
Pupils come to my home address (in Hampstead, easily accessible from several Underground and Overground stations).
In exceptional cases, I will travel to pupils, but since travel takes up time from my schedule that other pupils could use, fees would have to be negotiated in consideration of this.
- When are you available?
I am available to teach from 10.30am to 9.30pm on weekdays throughout the year.
Since many of my pupils are adults, I understand that difficult work schedules, deadlines, conferences abroad etc. can sometimes interfere with practice routines or require cancellation of a lesson. I am used to working round such problems, but I ask pupils to aim to see me on a weekly basis, and to try to reschedule lessons for later in the same week where possible.
- Which ages and levels do you teach?
* I teach all ages and levels, although I especially encourage applications from adult/teenage pupils at intermediate-advanced levels, from about Grade 6 through to Licentiate level, and from younger pupils making very fast progress (I have taught several prodigies over the years).
* I will also consider adult pupils from beginner level upwards on their merits (enthusiasm, a wide knowledge of classical repertoire or recorded jazz, etc.). My jazz pupils normally start with me as beginners in jazz, but already have several years of non-jazz playing experience and at least intermediate-level technique.
* I also give tutorials to students taking music degrees at BMus/BA, MMus/MA or PhD level (within university regulations).
* I will give lessons on written submissions, and on analysis and interpretative questions to students taking the FRSM or FTCL where this would be useful.
- Which qualifications do you prepare your students for?
ABRSM and Trinity grade exams (including jazz grades), diploma and licentiate qualifications (DipABRSM, ATCL, LRSM, LTCL).
Assistance (within regulations) for music-degree students and FRSM/FTCL candidates.
I have also helped students with various part-time courses at institutions such the City Lit and Morley College.
Some of my pupils need to gain particular qualifications for professional reasons, or to gain scholarships, I certainly don't insist on all my pupils taking exams - good progress can be made by other routes.
- Do you have a personal message for students?
Music is created to be enjoyed. I don't expect my pupils - young or old - to trudge through pieces that hold no interest for them, so I will work together with you to find out what will give you pleasure and so motivate you to practise. That doesn't remove the need for hard work, but it means that you'll actually want to do the work.
Classical pupils should be aware that I use analysis of passages as an essential part of effective memorising and sight-reading; you don't need to know a lot of theory before beginning lessons with me, but do expect to hear plenty about it from me. Music theory comes alive when it flows from the details of a challenging piece you urgently want to learn; it enables you to gain an insider's knowledge of the music you play - effectively, you start to discover for yourself the thought processes of the composer, and you'll find you can start to create music yourself, based on the theory you already understand.
Because of the international profile of my pupils, I'm happy to use musical terms from most European languages where pupils aren't yet familiar with English-language terms. I can make more extensive use of Spanish and French in lessons (and can offer some help in German, Hungarian and Russian).
For lovers of trivia, if you study with me, you will be three handshakes away from Shostakovich and Schoenberg, four from Mahler, five from Liszt and six from Beethoven! On the jazz side, you'll be only one handshake away from the leading contemporary pianists Geri Allen and Fred Hersch. You'll also be receiving lessons just across the road from where Elgar used to live.
- What kind of experience do you have?
I took on my first piano pupil in 1978 (while at school myself), and during the intervening three decades I've taught piano in England, France, Ireland and Hungary, privately or in music colleges and universities. My pupils have ranged from complete beginners to conservatoire standard, and from a 5-year old prodigy to musicians still enthusiastic to learn in their 70s.
As a classical pianist, I have given hundreds of public performances covering solo and chamber repertoire from the 18th century to contemporary works (including several premiered by me). I have also given public performances on harpsichord and organ. As a jazz pianist, I have given over a hundred public performances with my own trio, solo, with singers, or with various larger groups. My most recent performances were: a talk and recital of Russian piano music from the 1920s at Pushkin House, London; a jazz evening (solo and with a singer) at the Jewish Cultural Centre, London; my second performance of a contemporary piece (which I had earlier premiered) at the London College of Music.
I have published articles and programme notes on various musical subjects, and in summer 2012 published the book "Music and Soviet Power 1917-1932", which has so far received very positive reviews in the TLS and Gramaphone magazine.
I have performed on BBC television, and contributed my expertise to music programmes on BBC radio (which were selected as "Pick of the Week" in the Radio Times or newspapers).
I have also lectured and tutored in a very wide range of music courses at Queen's University Belfast and Cambridge University, including music history from the 1300s to the present day, acoustics, aesthetics, harmony and counterpoint, and keyboard skills (score reading, figured bass, harmonising melodies etc.) - I draw on all of this experience in my teaching as appropriate. I have been invited to speak at venues from All Souls College Oxford to Moscow Conservatoire.
- Do you have an up-to-date DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service, formerly CRB) Certificate?
No. I always ask a parent to be present in the case of lessons with children, for several reasons: their own peace of mind, the confidence of the child during the lesson and to organise the pupil's practice routines from one lesson to the next.
- Where and with whom did you train?
At the Liszt Academy (Hungarian National Conservatoire), I studied piano under Prof. GyÃ¶rgy NÃ¡dor and chamber music under Prof. JÃ¡nos Devich (then cellist with the KodÃ¡ly String Quartet).
I also studied piano under Prof. Alexander Jenner at Vienna Conservatoire (MusikhochschÃ¼le, Wiener Meisterkurse).
I studied jazz piano under Phil DeGreg and Terry Seabrooke, and jazz ensemble playing under Dan Haerle and Pat Harbison (Aebersold/Jazzwise Summer Schools, London)
Prior to Conservatoire, I studied piano with (among others) Dr Colin Kingsley (Edinburgh University) and chamber music with Heinz Hammerschlag (Belfast School of Music). My first childhood teacher was Katherine Glover, who had been accompanist to Frank Sinatra during one of his tours in Britain, but who gave me the very early ambition to learn the Chopin "Revolutionary" Etude.
- Tell me about some of your current students.
Latest: a fourteen-year old pupil of mine earned a Diploma in piano (ATCL). This is the first-level professional qualification normally taken by full-time conservatoire students at the age of 19. Not only did my pupil pass, but he earned ten marks more than required for a distinction. He is currently working on Prokofiev's Toccata and some Kapustin. He had previously earned his Grade 8 at the age of ten, and had trouble finding time for his diploma because he has been so busy with performances.
Another of my pupils, a composer from Belgium, has been contracted to write the music for a major documentary series to be screened by the BBC and funded by UNESCO; he is currently half-way through the task.
One of my jazz pupils performed twice recently at Ronnie Scott's, London's leading jazz venue, and another is regularly performing with a quintet around London while holding down a full-time (non-musical) job. Both started with me just a few years ago as jazz beginners.
Every pupil is an individual, with tastes and interests that can't be predicted from first impressions, and engaging with their enthusiasms is a great pleasure. A Polish pupil, who works as an astrophysicist, came to me after two months of trying to teach himself technique and notation - he was so advanced already that I had to give him a Grade-6 level piece to work on in his first lesson. A pupil from the Philippines is a voracious sight-reader who, in the course of just a week, played through a book of the complete Mozart sonatas I'd lent her.
Several of my adult pupils have come to me after stagnating for years in the middling grades, and I've suceeded in motivating them to acquire the techniques and understanding that have enabled them to play diploma-level pieces within months. Enthusiasm needs to be channeled, for sure, but never stifled.
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