What was the Purcell School like?
I guess it was a bit like the “Hogwarts for musicians” with a huge focus on music and practice. It was an amazing experience for me, and I remember flying over at age 15 with my mother to do the audition. My Dad was a bit concerned that I was too young to be going so far away, but I think ultimately, it was the right decision for me.
What was the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama like?
They were very different and I think I definitely did them in the right order. For my undergraduate at the RCM, I focused mostly on my solo playing and technique. I did competitions and worked my way through lots of repertoire. During my Masters, I was part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Orchestral Artistry Programme, so I had a much larger focus on orchestral and ensemble playing which really helped me for life now.
Where would you suggest people buy a violin from?
I bought my violin from Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, who are based in Finchley. I love my instrument and they have lots of beautiful string instruments. I think it also depends on the level, for beginners most string shops are legitimate as long as they can size the child – children don’t need expensive fancy violins however later on in their development as the player gets more advanced it’s very important to find the right instrument for you and there isn’t necessarily one shop I would recommend. It’s about trying out every instrument within your budget until you find it. People can go years and search all over the world for their perfect instrument!
What age do you recommend starting to play the violin?
I think the earlier one starts the better and it can definitely be helpful to understand the piano before starting the violin. However, even if you start at a young age on the violin, as it is such an unnatural instrument physically, I think it is extremely important to have a broad musical knowledge. Focusing on activities based on rhythm, musicality, aural and music appreciation, coupled with the instrumental lesson, will provide that support and ear training that one needs as a violinist.
So, what are you like as a teacher?
I think my students would describe me as passionate, detailed and strict but also fun and fair. I pay a huge amount of attention to detail and hardly let anything go however I know when to move on to give the pupil time to absorb the information. I focus a lot on technique but always also on musicality and phrasing, dotted with fun bits of musical history to provide a bit of context and engage the student. I have prepared students for ABRSM and other exams, however I am extra happy to teach students who play purely for the enjoyment of music. I can teach in English and/or Spanish.
What has been your career highlight to date?
It is hard to think of a musical highlight as there have been so many! I think one of my most memorable moments was winning the concerto competition at the Purcell School where I then performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto no. 1 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the orchestra. Another would be going on various tours with the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle as well as being part of the Lucerne Festival Academy and Alumni Orchestras getting to play incredible new music with phenomenal musicians. Finally it would have to be touring with the Orchestra of the Americas to the Carribean and South America where I got to see a whole new way of life and music making.
What violin pieces would you recommend people listen to, to inspire them to play?
I think the important thing to find out firstly if you are trying to inspire, is what kind of music that person likes in general, what instruments, what their age is, if they prefer slow and lyrical or fast and showing off. Then I could lead them to different kinds of music based on that. If we were talking specifically about violin music, I have known many violinists including myself, who were inspired to play after hearing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. It is full of virtuosity, beautiful melodies and excitement!