Teaching has always been a vitally important and rewarding part of my life as a musician and for me, teaching and performing on the piano are inseparable activities. My own experience of concert-giving (including of course all those accumulated hours of practice!) informs my teaching and vice versa. The two strands feed off one another and are equally enriching and challenging in their different ways.
The process of exploring new repertoire with my students – the piano literature is known to be endless – and providing explanations and guidance about stylistic considerations, phrasing, tempo, pedalling, fingering and so forth can often be a journey of discovery for the teacher as well. All of my pupils are very different and therefore my approach to teaching each student and helping him or her achieve their goals varies considerably. Flexibility and open-mindedness are just as useful qualities as enthusiasm, experience, the ability to communicate clearly, demonstrate effectively and to engage the pupil’s interest throughout the lesson. Of course, I learn a great deal from my students too. On countless occasions I’ve drawn inspiration from the way a talented pupil has played a particular phrase in their own unique way, bringing it to life in a way I’d never imagined or investing it with different meaning. Similarly, I’m often pleasantly surprised when a pupil has come up with a cunning solution to a tricky passage where, for example, notes have to be redistributed between the hands or involving some kind of fingering conundrum.
I have been extremely fortunate in having wonderfully inspiring and dedicated teachers without whom I would have achieved very little. Having started teaching the piano as a postgraduate at the RAM when I was assigned a small group of London University students, I now teach part-time at Wells Cathedral School in Somerset, at Woldingham, a leading independent girls’ school in Surrey and at Trinity School, Croydon, which has recently become the first all-Steinway school in the UK.