All my lessons include written information either in words, chord symbols or full music notation as appropriate so that it is clear what work needs to be done between lessons. I also answer questions by email between lessons. I work out a schedule for pupils who are working towards a concrete goal such as exams and performances.
My classical lessons for adults have often successfully fast-tracked ambitious pupils who come to me in the mid-grades (or lower) and build quickly up to serious concert music. I give systematic guidance on memorisation and reading drawing on my university teaching and research, but I know how to make the information digestible, and build up knowledge gradually - a lack of this kind of understanding is usually the biggest barrier to progress. I explore techniques mainly through pieces, and create exercises based on passages that focus on a new technique, looking at the finger, hand and wrist movements needed for the best result. Once understanding and technique are secure for a piece, and fluency is largely complete, I discuss details of interpretation, and I hold concerts for pupils who don't have their own outlet for performance. For those pupils who want to take exams, I am happy to prepare them for Grade 8, Diploma and Licentiate.
For jazz pupils, I introduce chord voicings and scales, and those who are used to very methodical practice, take these through all the keys, but for most of my pupils, I use well-known standards as a backdrop for learning harmonic, melodic and rhythmic features of jazz. Depending on the pupil's interests, I can take different pathways through topics like bebop lines, triad pairs, pentatonics, Shearing voicings and drop-2s, 4ths and So What voicings, etc. I organise performance sessions for several pupils together, but also help to prepare pupils for jam sessions, jazz summer schools and for professional gigs.
My popular lessons are focused on keyboard accompaniments for songs, looking at the styles that most interest the pupil, showing how the harmony works, how to enliven the chords with rhythmic interest and decorated them. I have a particular interest in modern R&B, but have taught a wide range of styles from Argentinian tango to folk-rock. I have had several recording artists among my pupils, and a particularly popular request is from singer-songwriters who want to be able to accompany themselves in solo concerts (in addition to performing with their normal bands).
For pupils who are beginners or in the earlier stages, I find or compose music that is interesting and manageable for them, gradually introducing basic technique and reading skills through music. Younger pupils often take grade exams, while I usually provide an independent path for older pupils who already have well-formed musical tastes.
I am a pianist, piano teacher and published writer on music
I have been giving lessons in London for the past 11 years, but have previously taught in England, France, Hungary and Ireland since the 1980s. I have taught other musical subjects (history courses, musical acoustics, composition) at Cambridge University and Queen's University Belfast.
My most recent result was a pupil just gone 17 who earned a very high mark in his Licentiate exam (FTCL - the higher professional-level exam); several jazz pupils have played professionally, one performing at Ronnie Scott's Club in London, the leading jazz venue.
My pupils fall into four main categories:
1. Classical: either post-Grade 8 and seeking to learn professional repertoire, or with intermediate skills but the ambition to progress rapidly towards serious pieces (I plot out various routes outside of the exam systems). I am happy to prepare those who want an exam qualification to earn a Diploma or Licentiate (or at least Grade 8).
2. Jazz, often hoping to give professional gigs eventually; initial skill level usually intermediate-to-Grade 8 level, but I've had very talented beginners learning all their piano skills on the jazz track.
3. Popular, a mixture of professionals, including singers, guitarists and singer-songwriters who need to branch out and improve their keyboard/piano skills; and amateurs who want to acquire songwriting and piano skills for their personal satisfaction, or who want to know how to create their own accompaniments by listening to recordings of songs.
4. Adult (and teen) beginners, some who want to move through the grade exams, but many who want to pick up enough skills and knowledge to move into one or more of categories 1-3.
Over half of my pupils take a mixture of classical and jazz. Several of my pupils are piano teachers themselves, some wanting to add jazz to their skills eventually, some wanting thorough preparation for starting to take more advanced pupils, and others needing theory skills for the higher grades.
2008-present: teaching piano and composition in Hampstead/Golders Green; writing books on music history (the latest on Shostakovich's 5th Symphony for the Oxford University Press), and programme notes/articles for orchestras, music festivals, opera companies and recordings; music programmes on Radio 4
2001-06 tutored in compositional topics, acoustics, physiology of hearing and supervised music-history dissertations at Cambridge University
1999-2007 performing as jazz pianist solo (restaurant residency) and with trios and other ensembles; played at highest level (experienced professional) in Jamey Aebersold Jazz Summer School, London (2007)
1996 organiser for Sonorities International Music Festival (contemporary classical), Belfast
1994-1999 PhD research in music theory/history
1992-98 Lectured at Queen's University Belfast in music history, composition
1991 taught piano at junior conservatoire, Saverne, France
1990 taught piano privately in Budapest
1989 performed at Edinburgh Festival, broadcast by BBC
1988-90 studied at Liszt Academy Budapest (piano, chamber music)
1988 won Edinburgh University piano scholarship to study piano in Budapest
1987 performed at Vienna International Summer Masterclasses
1987 won Edinburgh University piano scholarship to study piano in Vienna
1985 won first prize in Tovey Competition, Edinburgh (piano)
1984-88 BMus studies at Edinburgh University
1984 won four-year piano scholarship for studies at Edinburgh University
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