Bath Piano Lessons

Piano lessons in the city of Bath

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Piano Lessons in Bath 2018

Looking for piano lessons and a piano teacher in Bath? Do your children need extra piano tuition in addition to their school lessons? Or maybe you are looking for a new direction and inspiration for your piano playing?

I teach many pupils from a range of backgrounds and levels. I have a busy after-school schedule, teaching children of all ages from early years to A-level, where we work towards favourite pieces or more structured formats such as the ABRSM grades.

I also teach adult beginners, some who are complete beginners and have always wanted to play, and some returning to playing after having studied at school.

Whatever the reason, get in touch with me today to organise a lesson; there are currently a few spaces left for after-school lessons and I also have availability during the day, so if you are not working 9 – 5 hours, I may have a slot for you!

When I am not teaching, I write my own music for concerts and various other formats. So if you ever want to delve deeper into music, be it performance, composition, or the history of music, I am ready to share insights from my own practice and performance!

So get in touch today by clicking here!

Upcoming Events

As well as teaching piano lessons in Bath, I work as a composer pianist on a range of different projects. 2018 has already been a busy year with studio recordings completed for my latest work Cello Sonata No.1, which received its world premiere last year in Bath. This recording will be released as an EP in July 2018, with a launch show scheduled in Bristol.

There is also a highly anticipated show that forms part of the Bath Fringe Festival, scheduled for Saturday 9 June 2018. This will be a full program of new music plus eclectic selections from the repertoire, and tickets are available to book online now.

Bath Fringe Festival,  9.6.2018

St Michael’s Church, Bath BA1 5LJ

Tickets available through Ticketsource

EP Launch, 20.7.2018

Cafe Kino, Bristol, BS1 3RU

Tickets available through Headfirst

Sight Reading for Singers

A new course that is aimed primarily at improving sight reading for singers. Bath is full of wonderful choirs and has a long tradition of choral singing. The great thing about singing  is that anyone can get involved and find their place in a choir, regardless of musical ability.

However, at some point it is normal for many singers to aspire to improve their music reading abilities. It seems a daunting task at first, but the rewards for learning even a basic level of sight reading are huge! You will be able to look at your music before singing a note and have a rough idea of the shape of a musical line, or perhaps even take your starting note from the accompaniment. These are all invaluable tools that give you not only an head start on your music, but give you more satisfaction from learning and performing.

I teach sight singing courses over 4 week blocks, with a 1 hour lesson per week. Lessons take place during the daytime at Nexus Methodist Church, Claremont. Booking is essential to secure a place on the course.

Topics covered include:

  • Hearing a note and singing the same note back at correct pitch
  • Basic music pattern recognition
  • Music theory to understand what all the different symbols are telling you
  • Note reading on the staff and strategies to learn these notes quickly

This course is aimed specifically for singers who have very little music reading abilities. If you already have some understanding of sight reading, but want to develop your skills further  to more advanced levels, you can get in touch with for a 1 to 1 lesson, or organise a group of similar level singers to book an intermediate to advanced level course.

Booking now for March 2018: special introductory rate of £30 for 4 weeks.

Click this link to get in touch via the contact form and book your place today!

How to get to Nexus Methodist Church

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Nexus Methodist Church, Claremont, Eastbourne Avenue, Bath, BA1 6EN

  • On foot: At the eastern end of Camden Road, on the corner opposite Fairfield Park Health Centre.
  • By bus: The number 6 bus route both leave from Bath town centre and take you almost exactly opposite Nexus Methodist Church. From the town centre the bus takes approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic.
  • Car parking: Street parking (please note Camden Road operates a Resident Parking Permit scheme from 8am – 7pm every day)

Lunchtime Recital Thursday 11 May St Mary’s Bathwick

 

I will be performing a lunchtime piano recital on Thursday 11 May 2017 at St Mary’s Church, Bathwick, Bath. This recital is part of a series of lunchtime recitals arranged to raise funds for the restoration of the 1878 Father Willis organ at St Mary’s Church.

The music will start at 12:30pm and will include the following works:

Chopin: Nocturnes

Schumann: selections from Kinderscenen

Schoenberg: first movement from Klavierstucke

Other works to be played will be announced on the day. Entry is free but the audience are encouraged to give generously to support the organ restoration fund.

The 19th century organ was last restored in 1980 but is now in need of further restoration work. As well as being an example of a well respected British organ manufacturer, Henry Willis & Sons, the organ also boasts another famous connection. In 2001 the rock group Muse recorded the organ for the song Megalomania for their second studio album, Origin of Symmetry.

St Mary’s Church

Darlington Street

Bath BA2 4EB

Piano Lessons in Bath for 2016

It was a busy end to 2015 and I was heavily involved in a number of tasks which saw me go off the blog radar a bit….. but all for worthy reasons!

Several of my students took piano exams and passed with great marks and comments from the examiner. There is still a wide differing of opinion amongst students, parents and teachers over the benefits of taking piano exams. The truth is, it depends on the individual. All I can say is that those who do commit themselves to taking an exam are giving themselves an opportunity to work towards something and gain valuable experiences from performing under pressure. Passing and getting a good mark has given all my students a renewed sense of confidence and purpose in their playing, which is sometimes easy to lose track of when you turn up to weekly lessons to practise the same three pieces.

In addition, the grade system does introduce new technical challenges with every step up, so there is a practical element there to progress your studies. All in all a very worthwhile endeavour for any piano student; I must also emphasise that I had an adult student pass with a great mark, so don’t talk yourself into thinking that piano grades are something you did when you were younger! You may find that your life is now allowing you the time to practise and you yourself are more focussed to practise the technical elements to perfection. It’s never too late 🙂

I was also involved in providing piano accompaniment for a colleague’s students taking flute and clarinet exams. This is extremely rewarding work, as you can take a step back as a teacher and focus on performing with someone. It’s amazing how much progress you see even between the rehearsal a few weeks before the exam, to the actual day itself. As a teacher, it’s easy to spot determination and hard work when it has been applied. It’s also easy to spot the combination of relief and delight, with having played better than your fears were telling you that you would. Personal development like this is, I believe, absolutely fundamental to any child’s education, and by learning a musical instrument you are forced into developing your skills, otherwise the music simply will not happen.

There was also a small matter of purchasing my first house. They say that the most stressful experience you can have in life is purchasing a house, and all I would say in response is that I wholeheartedly agree! But I can least look back on that process as something firmly in the past.

The new place only a few minutes from where I was previously living and easy to get to from London Road in Bath. There is also now a dedicated teaching studio which provides the right environment for practise and study. I still one or two slots available in the evening, plus more availability during the day, so if you are looking for piano lessons in 2016, get in touch with me here.

Piano Lessons in Bath for 2015

Looking for piano lessons in Bath? Do your children need extra piano tuition in addition to their school lessons? Or maybe you are looking for a new direction and inspiration for your piano playing?

Whatever the reason, get in touch with me today to organise a free introductory piano lesson. In January 2015 I will be going full time with teaching, and so will have many more early afternoon and evening slots available all through the week. I also have availability during the day, so if you are not working 9 – 5 hours, I may have a slot for you.

I teach many pupils at present, from a range of backgrounds and requirements. I have provided extra tuition for students already learning at school, providing alternative directions and ideas where existing tuition is heading into a rut. I also teach adult beginners, some completely from scratch who have always wanted to play but never had the time. It’s a wonderful experience to watch someone develop from nothing to playing a piece of music with both hands confidently.

I also work for The Piano Shop Bath, so I can advise you on getting the best piano for your budget.  And when I am not teaching, I am studying for my own advanced repertoire, as well as writing my own music for concerts. So if you ever want to delve deeper into the music, be it performance, composition, or the history of music, you will get plenty of information from me!

So get in touch today by clicking on the ‘Contact’ tab.

The Spring Student Recital

This post has been slightly delayed due my hectic teaching schedule, but I have finally grabbed five minutes to report on the wonderful student recital that took place in March. Back in December, I teamed up with Bath-based piano teacher Susanna Downes to organise a recital evening, where our students could play their pieces. You can read about this recital by following this link. It was a thorough success and this spurred Susanna and me to carry  on what we had started!

We decided to hold future recitals on a quarterly basis, to give a sense of momentum to both students and parents. Having these recitals on a regular basis will give the students something regular to work towards outside of music exams. In music exams, a large part of the marks are given to performance, and yet there is little guidance on how to work on this. This is because performing is something you have to do regularly in order to gain experience; you learn how to deal with the inevitable nerves and demands of concentration.

Creating a performance environment is not a simple task. From a teachers’ perspective it is potentially a logistical nightmare. I have tried to compile a to do list, which is not exclusive, and hopefully gives an idea of what is involved:

  1. Find a suitable hall that is large enough, has chairs on site and is easy to access for all your students.
  2. Coordinate with parents to find a suitable date and see if that is available with the hall.
  3. If there is no piano on site, you need to arrange for delivery, removal and tuning of the piano.
  4. Invitations/tickets for the recital and repeated confirmations/reminders with parents to attend!
  5. Arrange Drinks/refreshments.
  6. Arrive a good few hours before doors open to arrange the hall and for a concert performance.

As I mentioned, this is not an exclusive list and you need to be prepared for all the things that might go wrong! We had one or two minor things, but the main aspects of the recital were well prepared for and as a result it went smoothly.

Organising an event like this provides little financial return for the teacher, and requires a great deal of organisation on top of regular teaching commitments. So why did we go to all of this effort? It was, of course, all for the students and their musical development. I still remember getting an unnecessary amount of nerves in music exams, simply because I was not used to performing outside of the exam room. As a consequence, any fun I could have derived from playing the music was diminished, because I was a bundle of nerves.

The only remedy is regular performance practise opportunities, which conditions your mind and body to the unique situation of performing music to an audience. At the heart of our student recitals, we try foster an atmosphere of support from the audience (who are anyway family and friends) giving the student something to feed off and help settle them into the music. When you can do this, you start to enjoy the music and performing to an audience.

St John’s church hall provided the setting; a medium-size hall, with excellent acoustics, and the essential kitchen area for serving tea and squash! We also continued our proud association with The Piano Shop Bath, who sponsored the evening and really spoilt us. The Piano Shop Bath supplied a Yamaha C7 concert grand, professionally delivered by the the delivery team and expertly tuned by Stephen Cooper. You can see from the pictures how good it looks, but more importantly it has an exceptionally balanced action and tone. As a pianist, I can tell you that having a quality instrument beneath your fingers inspires good playing, as you are not wasting effort worrying about certain keys that are getting stuck, or an action which is too heavy for all those delicate passages you spent hours practising. So many thanks once again to The Piano Shop Bath and the team for making this possible for the students.

A performance on the Yamaha C7 grand piano

A performance on the Yamaha C7 grand piano

As performers and families arrived, it quickly became clear that this event was going to be a sell-out! A fantastic turnout ensured rapturous applause for all the players, all of whom excelled in their performances. The occasion was clearly motivating everyone to play their best; I could tell my students had nerves, but they were clearly rising to the occasion and bringing out polished performances. My weekly teaching advise of ‘remember to keep counting’ was definitely being utilised, to my relief. And it was a very proud moment for me, to see students who I had taught from a point of not knowing a piece, to performing in a recital with such confidence. To answer an earlier question, this is why we put in the work to organise the recital.

Certificates being awarded at the Spring Recital

Certificates being awarded at the Spring Recital

All the players were awarded a certificate for their efforts, and seeing those previously nerve-wracked faces replaced by beams of confidence and pride, was a very touching moment. The question soon being asked was, ‘When is the next one?’ Susanna and I have already begun organising the next recital for summer, and I look forward immensely to see how the students have progressed.

Thoughts On Passing My ATCL Diploma

Aside from giving piano lessons in Bath, my advanced study of music continues. Some of you might notice that I have recently added the letters ATCL after my name.  This is the first tier of professional qualification that you can attain after grade 8. There are three levels: ATCL, LTCL and FTCL. The ATCL is described by the Trinity exam board as being equivalent to the first year at conservatoire. For comparison the next level, LTCL, is equivalent to the final year at conservatoire.

The ATCL exam consists of a half hour recital of music chosen by yourself. What made the Trinity exam board attractive was the possibility to submit one’s own choice, as well as picking pieces off the syllabus. As a lover of jazz and in particular of Oscar Peterson, I wanted to juxtapose his music alongside my other choices of Beethoven and Chopin. Here is the programme I performed:

Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 ‘Pathetique’ 19:47

Oscar Peterson

Two selections from Peterson’s ‘Canadiana Suite’

Ballad to the East 4:41

Place St Henri 2:10

Fryderyk Chopin

Nocturne in C minor, Opus 48, No. 1 6:49

Total programme time: 33:45

You also have to produce short programme notes, the majority of which I won’t bore you with here. However, one point I would like to share was my linking of these three men, who were separated by a century and a half. They were all piano teachers at some point in their lives, and they were all brilliant improvisors. This grounding in exploration through improvisation inevitably affected the music they wrote, as they pushed themselves to write music that would utilise the piano to its full potential.

So: you get on with learning, hold your breath as you submit your entry and practise like mad. For people considering taking the ATCL, I should perhaps elaborate on the last point. I had to schedule my practise to ensure I was doing enough hours per day. Teaching and other part time work eats in to my available practise time, and you have  to make time for friends or loved ones as well. I took to heart the lesson from close associates of Maria Callas, who claimed she died of a broken heart and loneliness rather than the medical cause. You can be fantastic with your instrument, but it is nought without loved ones.

Dreary point over. So I got the practise time in. For me, the point of practising a piece is to free yourself for interpretation. I knew I had to know the pieces inside out, backwards, sideways and blindfolded if possible, so that in the exam room I could concentrate on interpretation. I have always left two months before an exam to work just on interpretation and musicality. Why? Because music exam boards do not give high marks for pressing all the notes at the right time. That is assumed from the moment you enter your chosen pieces. You are there to perform something to the best of your abilities with your interpretation. For instance, the Beethoven Pathetique Sonata has probably been played hundreds of thousands of times since the ink dried on Ludwig’s manuscript. Who cares if you can play it? I can listen to a CD of Barenboim playing it to perfection. I can also pay money to see a concert pianist perform it well. British pianist Stephen Hough said that once you have learned a piece, that is when the real work starts.

So when you make that commitment, especially to music that is well known, you have a duty to give yourself to the music and prove to the audience why, in that moment, you are creating for them something unique. You are giving them a piece of your soul. I understand that’s very esoteric, but in my experience that is what it boils down to. Audiences and especially examiners can tell when you are going through the motions, and will not forgive you for simply getting through the piece.

The Andy Murray Effect

The run up to my exam also coincided with Andy Murray’s historic victory at Wimbledon. I have followed Andy for some years and it was obviously a moving moment to see him achieve what I always knew he could do. As has been widely commented, Andy’s struggle to win majors was never the technical part of his game but the mental part. The joining of Andy with coach Ivan Lendl’s mantra was crucial: you know your game, you have spent thousands of hours over your lifetime practising repeated shots and movements. All that is left is to play every point to the last, never relenting until you have won this last point. Roger, Rafa, Novak and now Andy all have this deep level of concentration that is grounded in their knowledge that the hard work has been done, leaving just the playing and winning.

This preparation is exactly the same for playing the piano and I took it wholeheartedly on board in the run up to my exam. As a pianist you spend hours practising patterns of notes over and over, perfecting them and injecting your musicality on them. The mental side of piano playing is never given as much weight in piano teaching as the technical side, but come performance time it has equal weighting. The knowledge that you have done everything possible to prepare lifts a huge weight off your mind. Nerves are something I still work with; they are a natural reaction your body has, but it is how you deal with those nerves that helps you perform at your best. When I walked into the exam room I was already converting my nerves into adrenaline, I believe because I knew in my mind I was ready. There are no surprises, you know what pieces you are going to play. If you have done the work and know every note on the score, what is there to be afraid of? Yes, you might make a technical slip, but so long as you can do it from start to finish with your musicality and drive shining through, people will only remember the end result. Think of technical slips as a tennis ball just clipping the net as it bounces in to gift you the break point. You keep moving to towards something great. As Ivan said, ‘All you can do is keep putting yourself into that position and give it all you have.’

One other thing I had from doing all the work is confidence. Confidence in performing takes away that fear that might have occurred just before a difficult set of running octaves. So what if the next bit is difficult? You know how to do it and you should show that you can play it as well as the hundreds of times you’ve done in private study. Confidence puts an audience at ease and more importantly it puts you at ease. The one word that was repeated several times in the examiner’s report for my exam was confidence.

And finally concentration. Concentration had to be absolute throughout the recital. You have to be at one with what you are doing. There are many unknown pianists out there struggling to be heard, playing the same pieces as Lang Lang. The difference is that Lang Lang has an extreme level of concentration. He is not technically more gifted than other pianists, but he is certainly one of the top pianists today for extreme concentration under pressure. In fact, I would guess that his concentration is so natural that he no longer feels pressure.

When I played the final piece by Chopin, my concentration was at its highest. There was no music in front of me and it just happened to be my favourite piece of piano music. I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened as I was so involved, parts are a blur in my memory. But I remember having my eyes closed for some of it and when I played the final note I knew I had played well. I knew I had given myself and left it all in the exam room. And although I can’t say for sure, when I took my bow I could see that the examiner knew this too.

Final Thoughts

The danger of over practise. This was becoming apparent in the final two weeks before the exam. So I took days off from playing, and when I did practise it was just going slowly over certain difficult parts. You have to remember that in the final week before an exam there is very little you can do to improve on the work you have done.

After I did the exam friends immediately asked, ‘what will you do now?’ This was a very humbling moment as after the high of your result, you realise that in many ways it is just a piece of paper. Of course, it forms part of my professional development and is good to have when you are a teacher. But being asked this put me back on the spot of reassessing goals.

Obviously the next level of LTCL diploma is on the cards. But I am a composer as well, and in the run up to the exam I had to put this to one side in order to focus on my preparation. Now I am back with the manuscript and paper, working on a couple of projects that might be performed later in the year. I will be building a site just for my composing portfolio, so in the next blog or so I will be updating you on this. And I have booked myself in to do a lunchtime recital at Manvers Street Baptist Church in the Autumn, hopefully this time to a real audience and not a solitary examiner. I did some practise recitals to random audiences in the run up to the exam and afterwards I would chat with them. In doing this you reaffirm the notion that not everyone can play that level of music, and many people who cannot play an instrument derive a lot of pleasure simply from seeing and hearing music in action. So my post exam action point is get out there and play!

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