I am passionate about sharing a love of music, to all ages – as a piano teacher, early years music specialist, choral director, theory teacher, music classroom teacher, pianist and accompanist. I am highly qualified and hold a B.Mus Honours degree, Teacher’s Licentiate in Piano and a PGCE (Secondary Music). In addition to that I am also a qualified Colourstring Kindergarten teacher and have completed the ABCD Intermediate Conducting Course as well as achieved a distinction for Singing at Grade 8.
I read for my degree at the at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and came to the UK to work in secondary schools in North Yorkshire as a long-term supply teacher in Music. Whilst working, I obtained my PGCE and then relocated to Wiltshire where I worked for 11 years in St Mary’s Calne. At St Marys I taught Music to KS3, GCSE and A-levels, gaining excellent GCSE and A-level results, as well as taught Piano, Theory and Aural and also coached instrumental ensembles, directed choirs and vocal ensembles as well as accompanied for examinations and concerts.
I began teaching Piano in 1998 and currently run a private practice from my home, Ridgway Music Studio. I teach all ages from 6, upwards (you are never too old to learn!) and teach beginners up to advanced students. Students are taught in a holistic way, incorporating listening, aural, technique, artistry, general musicianship, theory and improvisation skills right from the beginning. Students are encouraged to perform regularly in studio concerts, festivals and partake in external examinations where appropriate.
After my son’s birth I researched the best approaches for teaching music to young children and found this to be the Kodaly approach which led me to train as Colourstrings Kindergarten teacher. I currently run two private sessions with parents and children as well as work in three local nurseries.
I am a highly regarded pianist and regularly perform in the local music festival as a chamber musician or soloist as well as accompany students for examinations or concerts. I also lead congregational singing from the piano and are regularly asked to play for weddings and funerals. In addition to performing I also love singing and to share my love for singing and music. This has led to direct a Community Choir for Christmas time from scratch.
What I / we help young people achieve
In my piano teaching, students are encouraged to progress by following a curriculum as well as entering them intermittently for examinations when they are ready to assess progress. They are also encouraged to regularly perform, which includes two studio concerts, one which is internal (i.e. closed to the public) as well as one which is open to the public and some will also perform in local concerts, Eisteddfods and Music Festivals, where appropriate.
As I used to teach Music in Secondary schools, I understand the demands for the examination courses, such as GCSE and A-levels and try to touch on these within lessons and in particular know how to support students for the practical elements as well as prepare them for the theoretical aspects. Students are encouraged to compose, for example, which also helps them when doing GCSE or A-level Music.
The work I do in my Colourstrings classes aim to instill basic but fundamental skills for children under five. This includes singing in tune (all children will get opportunities to sing solo and the aim is to teach them to sing in tune and pitch match), which is clearly a life skill, whether or not they continue to have formal singing or instrumental lessons. They also learn to keep pulse in different ways (crotchets, quaver and minims) as well as how to differentiate between pitch. All of these concepts and skills will assist them if they were to continue with instrumental lessons, even if it is not related to the piano. Of course, there is also non-musical skills but important life-skills which are touched upon, such as sharing, socialising, taking a solo/leading role, language, counting, etc.
I am passionate about singing and love to get people involved in singing. In the past I have also directed an adult non-audition community choir ‘from scratch’ ready for a performance in a few weeks. I have a real passion for children’s choirs and would love to be able to be involved in a choir on a more regular basis to share the love for singing and music.
Opportunities for children & young people
- To learn to play an instrument and / or develop skills on an instrument
- To learn to sing
- To create / write music and / or lyrics
- To play, perform music with others
- To learn things about oneself , other subjects or life-skills through musical activity
- To develop their wellbeing
Also Works With
EPTA – European Piano Teachers’ Association
Curious Piano Teachers
Calne Music and Arts Festival
- Term Time
Working with special needs
I have experience working with children on the autistic spectrum as well as students with dyspraxia and dyslexia. Every student is unique and therefore I try different strategies, closely linking it with the information and feedback I receive from parents, as well as my own observations. These strategies are then set into place to help the student or child to access learning better. Being a member of several online groups enables me to share ideas as well as discuss best practice and different strategies.
- Piano / Keyboard
- Music Theory
- 4 and under
Qualifications, Grades & Certificates Taught
- Instrument grades
Musical Clusters Covered
- Calne & Melksham
- Marlborough & Pewsey
‘I wanted to say how much Betsy enjoys Colourstrings, every week I see her growing in the class and her attention skills are coming on so well and I’m sure that’s down to the brilliant mixture of movements to music as well as sitting in a group during activities as well as at quiet time, she absolutely loves attending your class every week.’ – Donna Beesby
‘I just want to thank you so much for being such an amazing piano teacher for the past couple of years I’ve been having lessons with you. You have such a wonderful style of teaching, which taps in to so many different parts of the brain! You’re truly brilliant at what you do and it’s been really great to work with you.’ – Sarah Mayall
My Training & Development
Investing into Professional Development is a priority for me. One of my main focuses at the moment, is further Kodaly training as this is relatively new to me, and I am planning on embarking on the Certificate Course Level 1 for Primary Schools through the British Kodaly Association this coming summer.
I am also committed to continue to learn and to keep up to date with the newest ideas in piano teaching, which is why I am a member of the Curious Piano Teachers. This provides me with a new element of CPD every month that relates to a different aspect of teaching the piano. There are different teachers from different backgrounds who share ideas on the Facebook page and one can pick up lots of handy tips or good suggestions of repertoire. I am also a member of several other Facebook groups related to teaching and playing the piano and find the discussions interesting and stimulating.
I also regularly attend conferences, such as the ABRSM Teachers’ Conference, the Curious Live Conference and the MERYC (Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children) conference. This is a great opportunity to learn new things, be inspired as well as to network and make connections with others. In fact, it is because of one such conference that I have come to know about Wiltshire Music Connect and decided to become an Associate Provider.
Every year I also allow myself a certain number of CPD events which can be related to piano playing, teaching, or Early Years and have done such days with with Nikhill Dally (Stepping Notes), Shirley Stump and Steve Grocott and will be doing a day with the Piano Teachers’ Course, UK in a April 2019.
I also regularly read piano blogs, such as Practising the Piano (Graham Fitch), The Curious Piano Teachers (Sally Cathcart and Sharon Mark-Teggart), Vibrant Music (Nicola Canton), to name but a few. I am also currently reading through the eBook on piano technique by Graham Fitch.
It is also a priority for me to keep my own performance skills up to standard through public performances and accompanying. I also have consultation lessons and in the last three years, have had lesson with Orsolya Szabo (Hungary), William Westney (USA) and Paul Turner (UK).