Frequently asked questions

What's the best age to start playing the clarinet or saxophone? Is my child too young? Am I too old?

I recommend that children have their adult front teeth in place before they start learning a reed instrument, and that their fingers are big enough to cover the holes on a clarinet and stretch comfortably between the keys on clarinet or saxophone. Typically this is around age 8, but depends on the individual. If you're unsure, I am happy to advise.

As for an upper age limit, you're never too old to learn! I've taught students from age 7 to 70+ and certainly intend to continue playing until I'm at least 80!

I don't have an instrument. Can I still start lessons?

If you don't have an instrument yet, you're still more than welcome to book a starter lesson. During your first lesson we can discuss which type of instrument you might like to purchase, how much you can expect to pay and where to buy from. I sometimes have instruments available to hire and can often offer discounts on instruments, reeds and other accessories.

How much do you charge?

I charge £17.50 per half-hour lesson in my home studio or via Zoom. Please ask about prices for school-based lessons or lessons in your own home.

How long does each lesson last?

Beginner lessons last for 30 minutes and advanced lessons for 45 minutes or an hour. Students can also choose to add a short, 15-minute theory session onto the end of a standard lesson, which is particularly useful if they're preparing for exams.

How much practice will I need to do?

Little and often is better than longer, more infreqent sessions.

If you're a beginner, ten minutes a day will be sufficient to practise the fundamentals and begin to build up strength and technique.
As you progress and develop more stamina, longer practice sessions will be beneficial. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

Do you teach jazz or rock?

I certainly do! Unless you specifically want to focus on a certain style of music, I ensure that all students receive a basic grounding in classical, contemporary and jazz music (and rock, for saxophone). Each genre has its own stylistic features and practical techniques, and exploring different ensemble types, as well as music from different places and periods of history helps you to gain a deeper and more rounded understanding of the instrument, as well as extending your technique.

Do you teach theory?

Yes I do, either in separate theory lessons or added onto the end of a standard lesson. This can be in preparation for a theory exam or simply in order to develop your musical knowledge and skill.

Will I be expected to take exams?

Not if you don't want to! I do enter students for ABRSM and Trinity exams (classical, jazz and theory), but only a) if they want to, and b) if they're ready to pass with flying colours!

The way I see it, exams are a marker of achievement and a celebration of how far you've progressed and what you've learnt. They're a lovely addition to your musical CV, but aren't the be-all-and-end-all. Learning ought to be fun, and exam preparation should be no different.

Do I need to read music?

Not at all. If you're only just starting out, you'll learn to read traditional, notated music as we go along, but you'll also learn to play by ear, memorise pieces, read from jazz notation and improvise. Striking the right balance is important.

Where do you teach?

I teach both from my home studio, in schools and at students' homes or places of work.

Do you provide GCSE/A-level tuition?

As a qualified teacher and ex-deputy headteacher, I do provide GCSE/A-level tution from time to time, although this isn't my main focus. However, if you're looking for a music tutor and would like to have a chat, I'd be happy to see if I can help. As well as having a full teaching qualification I am DBS/CRB-checked.