Pianist, Accompanist and Piano Teacher

Piano Lessons

I offer piano tuition to all ages and abilities. I have pupils ranging from as young as 5 to adult learners and every standard from absolute beginner to those studying for diplomas. All lessons are delivered on a one-to-one basis.

“I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music”Albert Einstein

Learning to play a musical instrument is a wonderful experience, can bring great joy to yourself and others and enhances the creative thought process. Many of the greatest minds have cited music as a driving force behind their work.

“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception”Albert Einstein

Drawing on over a decade of teaching experience I take a holistic approach to teaching the piano with the aim of developing confident independent learners. Lessons are tailored to suit the individual aims and abilities of each student.

Tuition is usually given at home where I teach on a Yamaha C3 grand piano although I am able to teach at an alternative location if that is preferred as long as a suitable instrument is provided. I teach weekdays during the daytime and after school as well as all day on Saturdays.

Students attend piano lessons from the local area as well as travelling from further afield. Currently I have students from Sale, Altrincham, Timperley, Hale, Worsely, Ursmton, Cheadle, Stockport, Chester and many other areas.

I have also taken teaching engagements in schools and am able to offer presentations which include a performance and talk to students about a particular work or composer. Such presentations are of most use for GCSE and A Level classes when dealing with "set works". It is of great benefit for students studying at GCSE and A-Level to have the opportunity to experience a performance of the Sonata or work being studied.

If you are interested in learning to play the piano, are a parent thinking of piano lessons for your child or a School interested in a presentation then contact me and we can discuss it further.

  • Exams

    If pupils wish they are able to take graded exams and diplomas. Exams are offered from grades 1-8 with grade 8 being the highest non-professional standard in instrumental performance. I enter all exam candidates through the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). There are also examinations offered in music theory and grade 5 theory is a requirement in order to take grade 6 piano.

    "It is well worth remembering that...it is the progress made during this preparation period that really matters"Clara Taylor, Chief Examiner, ABRSM

    I prepare pupils for exams as part of a well rounded curriculum. It is important to remember that exams can be a good milestone and target to aim for but they are not intended to be used as a curriculum. It is very important that pupils study other music, as exam pieces can make very good test pieces, but are often lacking in educational value.

    "exam syllabuses are not intended to provide a complete curriculum"Clara Taylor, Chief Examiner, ABRSM

    100% of pupils that have taken exams with me have passed them, with a considerable proportion achieving distinctions and many achieving marks over 140.

    A graded exam takes a lot of preparation, we have to prepare set pieces, perform numerous scales and arpeggios from memory, undertake aural tests and sight-reading tests. There is a lot to prepare and, whilst I always seek to have pupils progress as quickly as possible, it is very important not to cut corners as ultimately this will store up problems for pupils and they will inevitably give up.

    "the next grade may seem to be the most important step, it usually takes a year between grades, and an exam syllabus, however interesting and comprehensive, is not an ideal musical diet for this entire period"Clara Taylor, Chief Examiner, ABRSM

    This is why it is essential to use examinations as part of a well rounded curriculum that focuses on all aspects of music making

    Diplomas are offered by different boards but the main contenders are ABRSM and Trinity. Both are equally challenging. Both offer diplomas at three levels;

    • DipABRSM or ATCL
    • LRSM or LTCL (Licentiate)
    • FRSM or FTCL (Fellowship)

    For young talented pupils the DipABRSM or ATCL is achievable prior to attending university.

  • Advice for Parents and Pupils
    • Instrument advice

      Choosing a suitable instrument on which your child can practice is a very important decision.

      A good upright acoustic piano is the best choice for most circumstances. I do not recommend spending very large sums on a piano at the beginning as it needs to be an instrument that the child will feel comfortable with and you need to be comfortable with your child (and their friends) using it unsupervised.

      Conversely though if the instrument is not up to a good enough quality then your child will find it an unsatisfying experience to play and will resist practicing. A poor instrument can also lead to problems in the development of pianistic technique and aural awareness.

      If you are seeking a grand piano then you should consider the size of the instrument. Instruments smaller than 180cm can actually have shorter strings than larger upright pianos. Therefore a small baby grand piano will produce a less well rounded tone than a premium upright instrument.

      Electric pianos are becoming very fashionable but they have many drawbacks;

      • Acoustic pianos produce "overtones" which make the sound richer - some electric instruments try to replicate this but don't do it very well.
      • Acoustic pianos generate "sympathetic resonance", that is when the resonance of one string affects the resonance of another. This is especially the case when using the sustaining pedal. The most expensive electric instruments try to replicate this effect, but the reality is that sympathetic resonance is far too complicated for current technology to accurately recreate.
      • The action of the keyboard feels very different, even on electric instruments marketed as having "fully weighted keys", as, whilst they are weighted, the "feel" of the mechanical action is not present. This can create problems in very delicate playing, as, on an acoustic instrument there is a point at which no sound will be produced. This can be "felt" through the key.
      • Learning to produce a good tone is critical to developing as a pianist (and has a high impact on exam results). Tone is produced by transferring energy from the finger - through the key - into the string. This is achieved by manipulating velocity, acceleration of the key, height from which it is struck and arm weight. On an electric instrument the sensor only measures the velocity. It then emits a sound from a speaker which has been recorded by a pianist, who knows how to produce good tone, playing a superior instrument. If the components used to produce tone are out of balance an acoustic piano will produce a bad or "harsh" tone resulting in "bangy" playing. An electric instrument will never produce this ugly sound so the young pianist will have no way of correcting it.
      • Limiters and compressors are also used on electric pianos to prevent damage to the speaker systems if the key is struck with too much force. This evens out the touch on an electric piano so the pianist will not learn to control the sound fully.
      • Electric instruments are a consumer electronic product. They have a shelf-life and will quickly be replaced by a new model. They will not hold value and if, after the warranty has expired, you have a problem with the keys or pedals not working properly, (more common than you might imagine) then your instrument will need to be replaced.
      • Some retailers "push" electric instruments onto customers as they have a shelf-life and usually have higher retailer margins when the model is new. (Just like any other consumer electronic item).

      There are some situations where electric instruments can be preferable;

      • Any situation where the live sound of the piano needs to be easily amplified.
      • For use with a computer via MIDI (though a dedicated MIDI controller keyboard might be preferable).
      • In smaller apartment blocks where noise is a real issue. (Something like a Yamaha Silent Series might be a better option and offers the best of both worlds.)
      • Portability for a gigging musician.

      It is hard for me to recommend electric pianos as a solid choice. Some pupils have had a degree of success with them up to about Grade 4, (usually very able pupils), but when the requirement to use the pedals really comes into play they begin to struggle considerably.

      I do not recommend keyboards for those having piano lessons.

    • Practice

      Pupils should aim to be practising on a daily basis and as a rough guide we can use a useful formula of 10 minutes plus 10 additional minutes per grade to calculate a suitable amount of time. As an example Grade 1 would be 20 minutes each day and Grade 5 would be 60 minutes each day. This ensures that the amount of time required for each grade as calculated by Ofqual for QCF accreditation is achieved over an academic year, during term-time and practising on week-days.

      "If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it."Jascha Heifetz

      Most pupils will struggle at times with their practice and will resist working at certain elements. This is quite natural as practising any musical instrument can be very frustrating! It takes a lot of encouragement and a gentle approach to achieve positive results if children are resistant. Constant praise and encouragement are essential ingredients, they are usually aware of any errors that they are making.

      Help could be offered in structuring their time so that ample time is set aside each day and so that it doesn't cause conflict with other activities. Practising before school or immediately after school is usually the best option as it will become part of a routine. If a child however finishes school and immediately opts for the television or I Pad then they will resist practising a musical instrument as they will begin to see it as something that is preventing them from engaging in other activities.

    • Environment

      Establishing a comfortable environment for learning the instrument can also vastly improve the engagement of the young musician.

      If the instrument is kept in a room where there is likely to be continual disruption, or where its use will cause inconvenience to others this will have a negative effect on how often it gets played. If restrictions are placed on when it can be played, e.g. when another family member wants to watch a television undisturbed, then it will make it harder for the full enjoyment of learning a musical instrument to develop.

      Good lighting is also essential as the eye-strain caused from staring at poorly lit music will cause tiredness and the young pianist will lose focus and struggle to make progress. The clip-on LED music stand lights sold by many retailers are largely useless as they are really suited to professional musicians working in Jazz clubs or orchestra pits at theatres. I recommend a bright "up-lighter" that will provide a very bright but unfocussed light. Spot lights on the music can also cause eye-strain from the reflection.

      Try to keep all of their sheet music and musical accessories easily accessible. A small bookcase next to the instrument can transform the young pianist's surroundings. Keeping their metronome, pencils and music organized and easy to access will make a big difference to the productivity of practice sessions and increase the opportunities for independent learning. Children will rarely turn to reading books as a hobby if all of their books are hidden from them or randomly distributed around the house.

      Find a prominent position for festival trophies and exam certificates so they are always there to remind us to keep persevering when we struggle.

      A fully adjustable piano stool is essential so that your child can be comfortable and practice without any backache or finger and wrist strains caused from poor posture.

    • Music

      Gradually building a good music library will work wonders in helping to stimulate the young musician.

      As an example, most children I teach tell me of the many books that they have been reading. However, the stories that they choose to read for pleasure are not those set by their English teacher. Instead they are reading books bought as Christmas presents, birthday presents or books purchased from visiting the local book store or online retailer. The English teacher teaches the skills needed to read well, but it is the personal interests of the child that determine what they read for pleasure.

      Using a similar approach with music books will yield great results. Why not make regular trips to the local music shop and see if anything interests them? Or, maybe allocate a monthly music allowance to purchase music from somewhere like music room.

      Then they will gradually build up a library of music that interests them, and be far more likely to develop the skills learnt in lessons into a lifetime hobby or profession.

      Don't worry about the standard or difficulty of the music, this is exam thinking. The grade is a reflection of the standard we play to, not the absolute difficulty of the music. If musicians want to play something, then they will learn it, regardless of how difficult it is. If it's an easy arrangement of a familiar tune then they will likely improvise with that tune and turn it into something far more spectacular.

      Sheet music is relatively inexpensive these days so there is really nothing to lose here. They might find a particular piece too hard at the moment, but they will try, they may even be able to play the tune with one hand and one day they will be able to master it.

      Digital pdf copies of music are available from many online retailers. My advice is to buy the book. When it arrives in the post you have the joy of opening your new music; many are colourful; film music will often have lots of related material. Printed copies are difficult to play from, the print ends up too small and they always fall off the music desk! The published books will be alive and well long after the printout has become a crumpled pile of paper!

    • Listening

      Listening to music is a very important and enjoyable part of any young musician's life. I feel it very important that parents engage with their children as this is one area where parent and child can really work together and form a common interest and learn together. The world of recorded music has changed rapidly over the last number of years with young people moving away from physical recordings like CD's. This has led in many cases to a technical divide between generations in how music is consumed and much harder to share a CD and listen together.

      There are ways forward though with wireless speakers and social media sharing that enable a similar experience. What has been lost with the move to digital formats though is the background knowledge. Classical CD's always included the booklet which had a lot of information about the composers, the music and the artists performing. These booklets always helped me in to connect with the music, in most cases though all of this information is only a "click" away.

      The most important shared listening experience has not changed - the live performance. We are fortunate to be in close proximity to the Bridgewater hall and some of the world's leading orchestras. The experience of live classical music is powerful, it was never intended that it would be experienced in any other way and has been composed for the concert hall - not recorded media. The dynamic scale is enormous, the energy from all of the musicians on stage is electric and it does not have to be expensive.

      Take advantage of this jewel on our doorstep, it will do more to motivate and educate than any other experience.

    • Accessories

      There are many ideas for accessories, some essential, and some great gift ideas. Here are a few.

  • Resources

Stay Connected