Meet The Team!

“No one can whistle a symphony - it takes a whole orchestra to play it" 

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Please scroll down for FULL biographies and background credentials for all teachers.
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Claire Kelly

Dip L.C.M, M.I.S.M, C.E.O
PIANO Teacher, Author & Founder

(Southport)

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Glenn Howard

Technical Director & Studio Manager
ORGAN, PIANO & THEORY

(Haskayne & Mobile)

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Cassandra

SINGING & PIANO

(Birkdale)

Stewart

SINGING, PIANO &

CLASSICAL ORGAN

(Churchtown, Leyland, SMA Studio & Mobile)

Claire

PIANO & THEORY

(Churchtown, SMA Studio & Mobile)

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Jon

SINGING, PIANO, ORGAN & IMPROVISATION

(Southport)

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Milly

GUITAR, PIANO & THEORY

(Formby)

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Joe

SAXOPHONE, COMPOSITION, PIANO & THEORY

(Southport)

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Brooke

TRUMPET, CORNET, PIANO & THEORY

(Churchtown & Mobile)

Matthew

DRUMS & BEATBOXING

(Churchtown, SMA Studio)

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Emily

PIANO & THEORY

(Churchtown, SMA Studio & Mobile)

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Daniel

VIOLIN, SINGING & GCSE MUSIC

(Birkdale)

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Emma

PIANO & THEORY

(Ainsdale)

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Chris

UKELELE & GUITAR

(Birkdale)

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Pia

CHILDREN'S SINGING & PIANO

(Birkdale)

Susan

UKELELE & GUITAR

(Birkdale)

Dave

GUITAR

(Mobile)

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Harvind 

BEGINNERS THEORY & CHILDREN'S PIANO

Student Teacher

(Ainsdale & Mobile)

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Jasmine

CLARINET, CHILDREN'S PIANO & BEGINNERS  THEORY

Student Teacher

(Ainsdale)

Individual Biographies:

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Claire Kelly

Dip L.C.M, M.I.S.M

C.E.O
PIANO Teacher, Author & Founder

"Hi, I'm Claire. Teaching piano is my passion! I love to see our students grow in confidence through discovering their musical ability.” 

Claire ran a successful, private piano studio for over 25 years before she founded Southport Piano Academy in 2012. As the demand for lessons became too great as a solo teacher, she began to build a team of like-minded teachers. Claire has entered over 400 students for the Associated Board piano exams to date, regularly receiving Distinctions and Merits for her students' results. Claire also enjoys teaching how to play pop music and improvisation on piano and often composes her own arrangements for students of their favourite songs, to match their ability. 

 

Claire has written a Piano Teaching and Theory course, sharing her methods, for all students who come to the Academy. Claire also strongly believes in encouraging students to perform. She hosts our biannual student concerts (for charity) as well as takes students to regular local engagements and venues to play music. Claire holds a DipLCM, a Distinction in Music performance and a Grade 8 Merit in singing, and a diploma (with Distinction) in Business Communications. Claire was also recently a judge for ‘Young Musicians Competition’ 2020.

 

Music and theatre has always been a big part of Claire’s life. In her youth, Claire travelled around Europe performing with a youth company and the UK, singing in a Gospel band.  She has played lead roles in several local theatre productions, eg Jack in “Jack and the Beanstalk” and Ebeneezer’s fianceé in “Scrooge the Musical”,  and has an LCM Diploma in Musical Theatre. Claire has also played piano for church worship, wedding receptions, engagement parties, home groups, local events, Rainbows and singing accompaniment.

 

Having grown up in a very musical environment - her mother being a professional trombonist, singer, dancer, and a television and theatre actress - music and performance was never far from her! Claire also appeared on television, acting in various dramas and adverts and was part of S.O.N.G in Southport, where she honed her performance skills in many theatre productions. Claire also trained and qualified as a children’s B.A.G.A gymnastics coach after being a national competitive gymnast in her childhood and trained to Grade 6 ballet level. She then furthered her experience and love of teaching, whilst studying A-Levels, by setting up her own children’s drama, dance and mime youth group named “Expression” who performed at the Southport Arts Centre.

 

After studying ‘Modern Languages and Linguistics’ at University in London, as an adult, Claire then taught French and Spanish in many local schools for ten years, with Euroclub Schools and completed teacher training, at the same time as giving piano 1-1 tuition to children.  This was whilst raising her own family with 5 children.

 

Claire is still advancing her skills whilst managing Southport Piano Academy and teaching, she is also learning violin for leisure and has recently gained a Distinction in her first violin exam! Claire believes it is never too late to learn something new, and is a first-hand example of this!  She has also recently been awarded a diploma in understanding ADHD and ASD.

Claire has taught several students with other complex needs, such as Downs Syndrome, autism and hearing impairment. She also has a son with autism and type one diabetes, so is very used to being around and understanding children with extra needs. 

Claire holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Glenn Howard

 Technical Director & Studio Manager, ORGAN, PIANO & THEORY

(Mobile Teacher)

"Hi, I'm Glenn, I have a real passion for music and love sharing my knowledge in music to others and encouraging pupils. As well as teaching piano I am also an accomplished organist, playing in many churches around the North West for services, weddings and funerals. I am also a choir master for my local parish church choir.

I believe that teaching music should be relevant to today's society and that communicating it in a fun way is important; which is why I am teaching for Southport Piano Academy!" 

Glenn is married with two young children. He graduated from university with a BSc(Hons) in maths and Computer Science. He established his own computer company in 2002, supporting many local primary schools, businesses and charities, providing IT support, repairs, sales and installation, along with website management and hosting. Music was never far from him during this time, he was still managing his own choir and playing regularly. He joined the teaching team back in 2015 and has built up a large amount of mobile students. Glenn now manages our own website together with Claire. He also assists with interviewing for our staff team and organises our online teaching resources for teachers.

Glenn's passion has always been music. Listening to the organ in Church on a Sunday morning, he always knew he was destined to play. Glenn continues to play regularly in churches around the North West for Sunday services, weddings, funerals and baptisms, and is in much demand.

Glenn has entered many students in for ABRSM exams, many achieving merits and distinctions.

He has also helped organise many of the bi-annual concerts for Southport Piano Academy, and organised charity concerts for other organisations too.

Glenn's methodical teaching and student encouragement has been invaluable to the students of Southport Piano Academy.

Glenn is one of our Mobile Teacher travelling to homes around Southport teaching adults, children and teens.

Glenn can also provide classical organ lessons and theory lessons through Southport Piano Academy.

Glenn holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Cassandra Kotchie

SINGING, PIANO & THEORY

(Birkdale)

"Hi, I’m Cassandra. I'm a professional singer, and have been performing and touring extensively most of my life. Now settled, performing more locally and with a young family, I am really eager to share my musical knowledge of piano as well as voice with students of all ages."

Growing up in a very musical family, Cassandra studied music and performance from a very young age, learning piano from her own mother; a skilled piano teacher and composer.  She went on to complete a BMus in Australia (specialising in opera) and has since been performing professionally for over 10 years. During her career, Cassandra has been lucky enough to tour the world with many bands, tributes and vocal groups and to have performed as a guest artist for various luxury cruise lines. 

Cassandra has sung on two charity singles during the Covid pandemic , co-writing one of them. Her singles made it to the top ten and were featured on national television.

 

Cassandra offers both ABRSM singing graded exams and ABRSM piano graded exams. 

Cassandra holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Stewart Hankinson

VOCAL COACHING, ADVANCED PIANO & PEDAGOGY, THEORY, CLASSICAL ORGAN

(Churchtown, Leyland, SMA Studio & Mobile)

“Hi, I'm Stewart and I've been singing and playing the piano since I was six. I always wanted to be a teacher, to help other aspiring musicians to achieve their potential and to share the absolute joy of making music. I believe all students have the ability to improve and succeed and that my role is to guide and direct them on the right path. 

One of my favourite quotes about learning music is this one by Confucious: 

 

"We are told and we forget; we are shown and we remember; we do and then we understand". 

 

It's all about experiencing music by creating it! “ 

 

Stewart Hankinson is a highly-qualified, professional musician with many accreditations to his name. (MMus, Bed in Music Education, LLCM, LGSM,LNCM, AMusNCM, FGMS, FSCO, MISM) Stewart also hold a Master’s degree in performance and pedagogy (with distinction). 

 

After many years teaching piano, organ, singing and musicianship as a private tutor and in schools and colleges, Stewart has now returned to his roots as a portfolio / freelance musician. His current work includes teaching piano and singing , accompanying singers and instrumentalists for performance and exams, conducting and directing community choirs and musical theatre groups, directing music in several churches, as well as performing as a guest soloist. Stewart is also a freelance organist, playing for weddings and funerals across Lancashire and is also teaching at the University of Liverpool, when not teaching for us! 

 

Stewart’s previous employment and experiences include: ‘Head of Music and Performing Arts’ at a large comprehensive school, ‘Lecturer in Music and Performing Arts’ at Runshaw College and Blackpool and Fylde College, ‘Musical Director’ of Bolton Chamber Choir and the Ainsdale Village Singers, ‘Producer and Director’ of Opera and Operetta (various) and Thornton-Cleveleys Operatic Society ‘Musical Director’, just to name a few! 

 

Stewart’s performance experience has included singing with opera groups, guest soloist with several choral societies and orchestras, and performing at The Royal Albert Hall.  A passion for singing and choirs has always been at the heart of his work and this has complimented his love of language, expression and communication. 

 

Many of Stewart’s former students have progressed to advanced study at universities and conservatories and are working professionally in classical music and musical theatre.  

 

We are very honoured to have Stewart on our staff team at Southport Piano Academy to share his expertise and teach singing and advanced piano; up to diploma level.  Stewart can offer mobile lessons to your home or online lessons.

 

Stewart holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Claire Hook

PIANO & THEORY

(Churchtown, SMA Studio & Mobile)

"Hi, I'm Claire, I have been playing the piano for over 20 years, music is my passion and I feel that it should be learnt in a fun way! I’m so thankful for my childhood piano teacher who passed on such a special gift of playing the piano – and I would like to do the same for others! “ 

 

"I follow the ABRSM exam syllabus for piano practical and music theory. It is great to see pupil’s achieve their music grades and develop in confidence! I have lots of patience and tailor my lessons to meet the pupil’s individual needs. I love my role within the academy and find it rewarding to have the opportunity to pass on my knowledge of music.” 

 

Claire has taught for us for a number of years with extremely successful results and feedback from all families. She is an asset to the team with many very dedicated pupils and a 100% pass rate with all, including merits and distinctions. 

 

Claire had the pleasure of working in a primary school setting for 10 years, before having her little boy and joining the Southport Piano Academy team. As a member of school teaching staff, Claire regularly played the piano during school assemblies and for the Christmas nativities. 

 

Claire has years of experience of working with children of all ages and also those with additional needs. 

 

Claire had a very musical upbringing learning flute and guitar from an early age; as well as piano and music theory study. Later on, in her youth, Claire also performed herself in jazz bands, played for church services and weddings. 

 

Claire teaches from her home studio in Churchtown, where she has a digital baby grand piano. 

 

Claire holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Jon Taylor

SINGING, PIANO, ORGAN & IMPROVISATION

(Southport)

"Hi I’m Jon, I have a passion for teaching piano / keyboard improvisational skills, and interpretation of pop music. I particularly enjoy the music tech side of playing and I am a skilled performer, regularly playing piano in bars and restaurants and for weddings. I also offer vocal coaching and singing accompaniment. I believe that anybody at any age can learn an instrument and particularly enjoy teaching teens and adults. I am DBS checked."

 

Jon likes listening to music and then interpreting songs and pieces into his own style of playing. Influences involved are Greats such as Liberace and Jools Holland. 

Jon studied a music diplomacy at University in York. He has sung solo in both of Liverpool’s grand cathedrals, toured the U.K with his university chamber choirs and has also sung several times at York Minister for University graduation ceremonies. His inspirations include, the great Italian tenors Pavarotti and Bocelli and the legendary Frank Sinatra. 
 

Jon also specialises in confidence coaching for performance and, being a regular experienced performer himself, is an inspiration to his students.

Jon holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Milly Rigby

GUITAR, PIANO & THEORY

(Formby)

"Hi, I’m Milly. My music years have taught me a discipline in focus, determination, competitiveness, teamwork, and commitment. Now in my twenties, I am eager to pass on my skills to young children, through fun and interesting lessons."

Milly is an extremely talented young musician who first started learning the piano at age 7, then the guitar and the violin to Grade 8 ABRSM. She went on to study at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music where she focused on national piano competitions both solo and as part of an orchestra playing violin. 

Milly has also gained 2 ABRSM piano diplomas (dipABRSM and LRSM) both before the age of 18. 

Milly can offer guitar and violin lessons for beginners as well as piano lessons. 

Milly holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Joe Bloom

SAXOPHONE, COMPOSITION, PIANO & THEORY

(Southport)

“Hi, I’m Joe and I live for music, I strive to spread my passion and knowledge to my students so that they can better embrace this musical world.”

Joe was introduced to music at the age of seven. Joe was found to have an exceptional talent for music and achieved Grade 8 ABRSM and a music A level. 

In 2019, Joe was admitted to Chetham’s School of Music as a joint pianist and composer. 

Joe is now studying on the intensive BMus course at the Royal Northern College of Music on composition and the LRSM and LMusTCL diplomas in piano and music theory. 

Joe is proud to have attended both Chetham’s and the RNCM and to have had his works workshopped and performed at both institutions. Previously, he has had commissions including music for a commemoration of the centenary of WWI, amongst others. 

In 2020, Joe was highly commended for BBC Young Composer on his ‘Fragments of an Unstable Mind’. Presently, he is working on a new piano trio, motet, brass quintet, and percussion quartet.

Joe’s performance experience comes through various festivals and recitals at venues including the Stoller and Bridgewater Halls; accompanying in shows; conducting his own works on stage; and numerous masterclasses, while his teaching experience includes piano, saxophone and theory on a regular basis to beginner and developing students. 

Joe hopes to attain a PhD in music and lecture on music theory, analysis and the Romantic and 20th Century eras in the future, alongside writing, as well as works for concert, film and television.

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Brooke Shotton

TRUMPET, CORNET, PIANO & THEORY

(Churchtown & Mobile)

“Hi I’m Brooke, I always like to make sure that my students are more than confident for exams and know what to expect as I have been there myself. I strive to ensure my students are enjoying music but also successful in what they wish to achieve. I am very organised in planning lessons and making sure goals are set each lesson. I always encourage my students to aim high and nurture them in their love and passion for music.”

Brooke has been teaching the ABRSM syllabus since 2018 and has recently joined our team to further share and expand her teaching skills. 

Brooke grew up in an extremely musical family and was playing piano from 7 years old, before graduating with Grade 8 ABRSM in piano and a Grade 5 theory distinction. 

Brooke also plays the trumpet and cornet to a high standard and plays in Maghull Wind Orchestra and has performed at the prestigious ‘Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.’ Brooke is a firm believer that students should perform as much as possible. 

Brooke can offer piano, theory, trumpet and cornet lessons from her home music studio in Southport.

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Matthew Cook

DRUMS

(Churchtown)

“Hi I’m Matthew, I have a passion for drumming and love teaching rhythm to all ages. I have taught for Sefton Music Service and regularly gig professionally.”

 

Matthew started playing drums at the tender age of 6! He continued to play percussion and was awarded musician of the year in high school.

 

As a talented drummer, Matthew went on to train in teaching and taught at Sefton music service every Friday, teaching for 5 years before gigging professionally as a career.

 

Matthew has played drums in the Edinburgh fringe festival with a soul/blues/funk band, jazz/blues clubs and also classical orchestras, not to mention numerous rock/heavy metal and punk bands. He also plays African and Samba percussion.

 

Matthew was ranked in the top 16 UK beat boxers, Competing in the UK beatbox championships. Since then, he has held beatboxing workshops and is keen to encourage this with students now that beatboxing is recognised at GCSE and A level as a performance instrument.

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Emily Baxter

PIANO & THEORY

(Churchtown, SMA Studio & Mobile)

“Hi, I’m Emily, teaching has always been my passion and to be able to share my knowledge and experience is a dream come true!“

 

Emily has just joined our team In 2021 and is already proving to be very popular with the students. She is 26 and has played piano for over 12 years. Emily achieved her ABRSM (practical piano) at Grade 8, and Grade 5 theory before finishing school and went on to study music at Liverpool Hope University. 

 

Emily has a B.A Honours degree in music. During her time studying music Emily was an active musician, playing in several bands for 3 years. 

 

Emily is also very fond of working with children, having studied Childcare at college and receiving a diploma, with an A Grade.

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Daniel Kirk

VIOLIN, SINGING & GCSE MUSIC

(Birkdale)

“Hi I’m Daniel , I hope to help younger beginners of violin and intermediate level players to exceed and improve their playing ability; getting them to a good standard.I also love helping young children flourish in their singing ability.”

 

Daniel is a very talented Grade 7 violinist, receiving many distinctions along the way. Daniel played in an orchestra in Southport and toured many countries around the world playing both classical and folk at festivals, in arenas and on large stages, in front of thousands.

 

Daniel first began teaching the violin basics as a child, to family friends. Once in high school he taught some of the younger students violin tips to become better. Now as an adult, He is very good with children and he has previously been a scouts, beavers and cubs leader.

 

Daniel is also a talented singer as a baritone. At High school, Daniel was part of the prestigious ‘Mundo Africa’ choir (singing bass and tenor), which is one of the U.K’s best school choirs.

 

Daniel has performed with Mundo Africa at the Educate Awards, the Albert hall and also several philharmonics. He has also sang in countless churches and cathedrals; performing in the Alder service in Liverpool cathedral. Daniel can also offer Childrens’ singing lessons as well as GCSE music help to any age, as fully understands the GCSE music course.

 

When Daniel isn’t teaching and studying he has fun improvising and learning contemporary music on the violin.  As he has an exceptional natural ability to play violin by ear, he can play anything.

 

Daniel teaches from his home studio in Birkdale.

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Emma Perju

PIANO & THEORY

(Ainsdale)

"Hi, I'm Emma. I believe that learning to play music is an enjoyable and creative hobby for children to have and one that will last a lifetime."

 

Emma has been a qualified primary teacher for 17 years.  She has studied music theory extensively and played piano for school.  She has also travelled around Europe singing with a choir.  Music has always been an important part of Emma's life and she feels there is nothing more rewarding than teaching and seeing the enjoyment that people get from learning to play the piano.  

 

Emma holds an enhanced DBS certificate.

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Chris Skellam

GUITAR & UKELELE

(Birkdale)

“I love teaching in general, having taught maths, physics and chemistry in high schools I have a vast experience. Now, in my retirement seeing students flourish through my 1-1 music instruction is very rewarding to both parties.”

Chris loves music and has played music since buying his first guitar at the age of 12, with his first gig being only 2 years later,playing in a Skiffle group to raise money for a local primary school.
 
By the time Chris reached the age of 21, he had broadened his scope of music to include Blues and Soul continuing to play as well as teaching maths in secondary school as a qualified teacher.

Chris plays guitar, ukelele, electric bass,double bass and keyboards and has played in many bands here in Southport over the last 20 years; including the Brian Franklyn Band, the Memphis Pete Band, Route 66, and Sweeping Brush. 
 
Five years ago Chris taught ukulele to a small group of adults which led to the formation of two ukulele bands, the Uke-Rhythmix and the Ukulele Buddies. 

Chris teaches ukulele on a one-to-one basis now. Together with his wife, Sue Raymond, as a duo he entertains regularly in local care-homes and day centres, and also has individual students learning various aspects of guitar playing, from basic chords to soloing.

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Pia Kwasnica

CHILDREN'S SINGING & PIANO

(Birkdale)

“Hi I’m Pia, when there are no words, music speaks! I’m thrilled to be teaching for Southport Piano Academy and I'm keen to share my love and passion for music to my students, and have a fun experience along the way!” 

 

Pia has played piano and performed for around 10 years. When not being a singer / songwriter and composing her own music, Pia regularly plays background music to coffee mornings and gatherings in the area. She has also performed in choir concerts and many other public performances, singing and playing over the years. After studying GCSE music, Pia studied music composition with theory of music and history of music. 

 

Pia began teaching piano as a young teen, first to her younger siblings, whilst studying for her Grade 5 theory and Abrsm Grade 6 piano exam then progressed to a wider clientele. She also coached children’s gymnastics just to gain more teaching experience. 

 

Pia is a complete natural at working with children and everyone who learns with Pia leaves with a big smile on their face! We are thrilled to have such a talented young lady on the team. 

 

Pia can offer children’s piano and musical theatre / pop singing Lessons.

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Susan Raymond

GUITAR & UKELELE

(Birkdale)

“Hi I’m Sue, I love teaching music, especially to adults,  as I love seeing people blossom and find out how to do something completely new that they have never done before.”

Coming from a musical background, Susan is an experienced performer , currently  a guitar/ vocalist in The JKH Band, having been involved in various bands over the years, including Route 66, Memphis Pete Band, The Teachers and The Sue Raymond Band. 
 
Susan started playing guitar and ukulele banjo in clubs from the age of 14 in the ‘70’s, along with her Dad who was an established vocalist and entertainer. 

Now in addition to playing with the JKH Band Sue is now devoting a lot of her time to teaching ukulele and guitar. Along with her husband, Chris Skellam, Sue has been working with ukulele groups for the past five years, resulting in the formation of two ukulele bands, the Uke-Rhythmix and the Ukulele Buddies who are now independently playing on the ukulele festival circuit. 

Sue and Chris also, together, entertain regularly in local care-homes and day-centres with their guitars and ukeleles and they both have individual students learning various aspects of guitar and ukulele playing.

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Harvind Sangha 

BEGINNERS THEORY & CHILDREN'S PIANO

Student Teacher

(Ainsdale & Mobile)

“Hi, I’m Harvind, I love working with children and know how to make lessons fun and engaging!”

 

Harvind is a young, ambitious pianist who has been playing piano and studying piano theory for approximately 8 years. As well as singing in choirs, Harvind has performed at a number of concerts, shows and even in a flash mob! 

 

Harvind began independently teaching a small number of young students, helping them develop a love for playing the piano and attaining ABRSM grades.  Now she feels she would like to expand her skills with our team. 

 

Harvind has a lot of experience working with children and is dedicated to seeing their success. She is also qualified to Grade 6 as well as Grade 5 Theory. 

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Jasmine Lindsay

CLARINET, CHILDREN'S PIANO & BEGINNERS THEORY

Student Teacher

(Ainsdale)

“Hi, I’m Jasmine! I love music and want to help young children develop their love of music too. I am excited to have an impact on young lives and see budding little musicians developing!”

 

Jasmine is a young, talented and confident musician who has just joined the team. Jasmine learnt piano from a young age and also plays the clarinet. She has played piano in many local concerts and performed clarinet for ‘Sefton Music Service’ With Sefton Wind Band. She also plays with Clarinet Ensemble, Wind Band and the Orchestra at Greenbank School. 

 

Jasmine has taken on several leadership roles whilst studying GCSE music. These include being house captain, a mental health ambassador, and being appointed as a school ‘Angel’, to help younger years settle into high school. She is also a ‘guides’ patrol leader. 

 

Jasmine is working on Grade 6 (practical) in piano and Grade 6 clarinet and soon taking her Grade 5 music theory exam. 

 

We are very happy to have young, enthusiastic musicians on our team to inspire little ones. Lessons are guaranteed to be fun too, which is our motto!

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Dave Aston

GUITAR

(Mobile)

I believe anyone is able to learn guitar, with enough interest and determination.

It's all about putting the work in, in your own time and most importantly enjoying what you are wanting to achieve out of it.

 

Dave has been playing guitar since he was 15 years old. (That’s 21 years!) He has taught guitar privately 1-1 over the years and ran childrens’ guitar groups.

 

Dave is a singer / songwriter who has been gigging most of his adult life. He has played electric guitar in punk bands around the country and currently still plays in a punk band called ‘MillionEarth’ and has produced an album, ‘Blindfold' (which is now available to buy on CD or listen to online).

 

Dave is also an amazing acoustic guitarist who specialises in fingerpicking and all different styles of rhythm.

 

When not performing and teaching, Dave is quite well known in Southport for running ‘Open Mic’ nights in the area for over the last 12 years and currently runs the one in Southport Market.