Singing Fingers so far...
My musical education...
My musical journey began at a very young age, with musical games just like the ones I use in my classes. By the age of 6 I was ready to focus on the piano, so I started private lessons. I was immediately addicted, and progressed very quickly.
At 11 I started playing the ‘Cello, and my passion for that developed just as quickly. At 13, having already gained Grade 8 Distinction in Piano and Grade 7 Distinction in ‘Cello, I was awarded a place at the Royal Northern College of Music Junior School – a Saturday school for promising young musicians in the UK, which I attended for 5 years. During those years I received training in solo and ensemble playing from some of the most respected teachers in Europe. It really was an incredible experience.
Whilst at the RNCM, I sustained a wrist injury which rendered my right hand unusable for over a year. I had to stop playing the 'cello completely, but not the piano! I had heard of the Ravel Piano Concerto for left hand only, so I went on the hunt for more repertoire for just one hand. And I found some real gems. I had a lot of fun performing with just one hand for a year!
After graduating from the RNCM I decided to broaden my academic experience alongside performance and composition, so I went to the University of Leeds to study BA Music, and graduated with a high 2:1 in 2004.
I loved to perform from a young age, but I also loved to teach, which I started doing in my parent's front room when I was just 15. Finding new ways to spark the musical enthusiasm of others has always been a real passion of mine, so as soon as I started teaching, I began to create my own fun and unique teaching style. I have been developing this for over 20 years now, and the result is a totally flexible, and entirely pupil-led approach to teaching.
Moving to Ibiza and becoming the Mindful Pianist...
My husband and I moved to Ibiza in November 2013. This change to a more simple, spiritual way of life was what refocused the Mindful Pianist in me. The piano had always been my best friend and my coping mechanism for the ups and downs of life, but it wasn't until we moved to Ibiza that I really began to see just how important it was for my well-being.
My piano playing began to take a different shape. I started to focus more on improvisation, and on minimalist rather than virtuosic repertoire. I realised that for me, the beauty and the calm came from simplicity. I began to take the time and space to enjoy every single note I played, and through this, my Pianistic Mindfulness was born.
In February 2014 I set up a music class for 1-4 year olds in a local Spanish nursery. Since none of the children spoke English, I created musical games (that required no explanation) to introduce all the basic music concepts like pitch, rhythm, dynamics, composition, notation etc. It was a beautiful time - we all had lots of fun, and the children learnt some English through my songs too!
Just a month later, news of Singing Fingers had already spread across the island and I had full classes each week as well as a full timetable of private piano pupils (and a waiting list to boot!).
My piano pupils were progressing brilliantly and were really enjoying improvising and composing as well as learning a wide range of classical and modern repertoire. I had created lots of fun ‘off the bench’ games to teach all the music theory a pianist needs to know, so I could equip my pupils for the academic side of music whilst still having fun!
As a child I used to love performing, and I would regularly organise little charity concerts in my home and in a local care home for the elderly. I really wanted to recreate these experiences for my pupils. Not everyone wants to perform, but for those who do, providing a warm and relaxed performance space for them can really help drive ones learning. So, I arranged summer concerts for my pupils and their families in a local restaurant in Ibiza, and Christmas concerts in a local care home for the elderly. They were so much fun!
A new chapter... and the Skype era!
In January 2017 my world changed when my beautiful baby arrived! My husband and I decided we wanted to be closer to family in the UK, so in September 2017 we relocated to York.
A handful of my Ibiza-based pupils didn't want to end their lessons with me, so I developed Skype lessons! I was actually really surprised by how well they worked! I now have Skype pupils in Ibiza, Denmark, Norway, Tel Aviv, and Italy, and local pupils who come for lessons at my home near the centre of York.
Multigenerational Singing Fingers...
In November 2018 I decided I was ready to bring my Singing Fingers group classes to York, and this time I thought it would be lovely to make them multigenerational! There is nothing more magical than bringing young and old together!
I found a lovely care home in Stamford Bridge who were super keen to give it a go, and it's been a real success right from the start! Parents bring their wobblers and toddlers aged 1-4 years along to the care home, and we do the class in the residents' huge lounge.
We all sing, dance, and play musical games using percussion instruments, floaty scarves, huge lycra sheets, finger puppets and of course the Piano. Everyone joins in as much as they can, the old folk are energised by the little ones, and the little ones relish the attention of the old folks! It really is beautiful!