My first piano teacher was terrifying! She’d yell when I played a wrong note, slap my hands with a ruler she kept handy, and never seemed to smile. Not once did we seem to play for fun. I was almost too scared to touch the keys without music in front of me in case I did the wrong thing. It’s a miracle I ever continued.

Even my later teachers, some of whom I really loved, didn’t encourage me to be creative. We didn’t explore sounds and rhythm, I didn’t learn how to play chords so I could sing some songs, and no one ever suggested I make up my own music, all skills I now use—and enjoy—all the time.

I come across many people who tell me they have no musical skill at all, cannot sing to save themselves, or will never be able to play anything on the piano. Despite this, they still have the urge to try, because we are all primed to be musical, even if we’ve forgotten how, or even when we’ve been told to forget all about it.

All of this means that in my lessons, the most important component is you and your potential to discover how amazing it can be to immerse yourself in music, even if only for the duration of a lesson. We will take things slowly and I promise I won’t make you do something until you’re ready. But from the very first lesson we’ll be making music. You’ll be playing or singing with me, and we’ll do as much without music notes in front of us as we will with it.

Reading music is just one component of many, all of which work together to create well-rounded musicians who will carry these skills with them wherever they go, creating a lifelong love of music. It’s with this in mind that I focus on these five broad areas:

Listening: listening to and working out rhythms, melodies, and simple harmonies; differentiating between genres

Singing: having the confidence and skills to open your mouth and sing by yourself, in two-part harmony and canons

Creating: feeling comfortable with the idea of exploring sound and rhythm and creating your own music, whether simple melodies and rhythms to be sung or played or more complicated harmony or chord progressions

Reading: having the skills and confidence to read music, including understanding what everything on the page means, why it is there, and how you might interpret it. This can extend from simple note reading through to advanced harmony, and can include understanding chord symbols and the many ways to play them

Writing: have the skills and confidence to notate music and rhythm patterns, from single lines through to more advanced notation; to notate your own creations