I started learning the piano when I was about 11 years old. It’s a bit of a love/hate relationship for me. My first piano book was “Me and My Piano Part 1”. I couldn’t read music and no-one in my family could read music or play any instrument to help me along so I found it hard going with my 30 minute lesson a week at school. I was given a keyboard for my birthday and this helped me to practice a bit more at home but I’ll be honest, initially I wasn’t dedicated to it 🙂
I continued with lessons at High School, with Music for Life, the extra curriculum provider of music lessons at school, and went in for my ABRSM Grade 1 piano exam in 2007 and I was pleased to get a merit. My singing teacher Jayne Wilson advised me that it would be a good idea to practice more because a second instrument is useful. I played the piano one day for my Stagecoach Theatre Arts teacher Jan Bartai GTLC (Hons) and she offered to help me to speed my learning whilst I was studying ABRSM Music Theory with her; it was a low priority for me on my list of things to do and with piano I feel, you really do have to practice every day to get fabulous.
I persevered with my practice and Jan Bartai pushed me to get to grade 5 standard ready for my ABRSM exam in 2010 which I also passed with a merit. It’s a good thing I did as I needed the skill for my AS level (lower 6th form ) Music exam. I continued my piano studies with Val Eastham, a fabulous piano teacher at JRNCM (Junior Royal Northern College of Music) on Saturday mornings having been accepted to study singing there in April 2010.
I’m studying with Yoon Kim at RCS now; I have an extra lesson with a fellow student Marcus Kitchen but it is really hard work to me. I watch friends at RCS who play like a dream and make it look so easy. I have been in many festivals where the accompanist with just a couple of minutes chat with me on tempo and key and then they’re off playing the most amazing pieces.
I have many amazing pianist friends like Syuzanna Kaszo who won the 15th Stefano Marizza International Piano Competition in October 2012 she was my accompanists on several occasions and gave me fabulous advice. I sing with Beth Jerem, a second year undergraduate and Danielle Didonato, a Californian postgraduate student at RCS who sadly is going back to America next month. To thank Danielle for all of her help this term I took her to meet my family and see some of England, specifically Cheshire before she leaves the UK.
I have a healthy respect for the skill needed to play at such a high level but for me I will have to plod along, waiting for that breakthrough moment where my brain actually tells my left hand exactly what to do at the right time. I really need to make it as a singer because I’d hate to have to rely on my piano playing for a living 🙂