Teaching and Coaching

Piano, Voice, Aural Coaching, Music Scholarship Preparation, Music Theory, Composition (using Sibelius software), primary education class music.

A truly exceptional teacher.
– Mrs. Ruth Adams


I have over 35 years’ experience of teaching, to pupils of all ages and abilities. I am professionally trained and hold a BA Honours degree and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education in Music, from Exeter University as well as a piano teaching Diploma from the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM). My aim is to inspire and encourage all children to be involved in music in some way or other, and in so doing, to develop their self-confidence, motivation and discipline as well as their expressive, creative and social skills.


Piano/Singing lessons are available for 30 minutes, 45 minutes and 1 hour’s duration. I recommend 30 minutes for beginners, although with very young children 20 minutes is sometimes better for their concentration. More advanced pupils (grade 5 onwards) will need a longer lesson. I do not recommend singing lessons for children under 7 years of age. They would gain more benefit from singing in a good choir at school or in the community. Please check out my Choirs – Sing for your life! page for some suggestions.
With all my teaching, I try to encourage a pupil to become an all-round musician. This means that in the lesson we will not just play or sing through some exercises or scales and pieces, but continually engage and develop aural skills, sight-reading and creativity. With pianists, I also work with them to develop accompanying skills as this aids sight-reading and transposition, teaches them to keep a regular beat and follow another musician’s interpretation of a piece.

For piano lessons, you must have a well-tuned piano or a touch-sensitive, full-size keyboard to practise on at home. Check out my Links page for piano retailers, restorers and tuners.

I teach at my home in Welwyn Garden City, but am also available to come to your home if that suits your needs better (for a small extra travel allowance). My fees are competitive and give value for money, given my expertise and experience. Please call or email me for my current rates. Fees are payable termly, in advance. I offer a free consultation session when we can meet, I can hear you play and/or sing and we can discuss your aims and the approach you would like to follow.

I encourage parents to attend lessons regularly, especially in the first few terms and after that, at least twice a term. Maintaining the triangle of communication between pupil, teacher and parent is essential for good progress and regular feedback.

I will recommend music for you to buy although I am happy, particularly with more advanced pupils, for you to make some suggestions about music you would like to learn. You can buy music through one of the online music stores, locally (see links) or through me.

Regular, daily practice is essential if you or your child is going to have fun and make progress. The practice room should be warm, well lit and without distractions. A child (especially a beginner) will progress more quickly with regular parental supervision and encouragement. Always try to read and follow the instructions in the notebook which I write at the end of each lesson as these will help you to remember what you need to work on and why. A practice chart can sometimes help with stars/stickers for encouragement.
Click here to download one.
However, practice should also be enjoyable. Always listen to every note you play so that you are fully involved in the sound you make, and try to perform for others whenever possible.
Click here for more suggestions about “Practice is Fun!”

Music Exams and Festivals – I progressed through the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams myself to grade 8 and beyond and feel that they continue to set the gold standard in terms of musical assessment (ABRSM).
I encourage my pupils to take exams and to enter local music festivals (see the links page for more details of these) when I feel that they are ready. They can be a useful method of motivating and marking a student’s progress, giving them a goal to aim for and a reward for their achievement as well as an opportunity to perform. However, I do understand that this system does not suit everyone; some pupils do not respond well to an exam situation and they cost money. If you or your child would rather not take exams or enter festivals, please let me know as there are many other methods of motivation and opportunities for performance that we can find and develop.

Aural Coaching and Music Scholarship Preparation – As musical children and their parents start to think about their secondary school choices, many will wish to consider a music “place”, scholarship or bursary. Tests to determine suitability for these awards vary from school to school, and in particular between state sector “music places” and private or independent school scholarships or bursaries. Students applying for a place at a state school may first be required to take a Musical Aptitude Test (MAT) aimed at testing the candidate’s aural abilities and sense of musicality. In many independent schools, the test usually takes the form of an individual audition with the Director of Music. As a former Director of Music in an Independent Primary School, I have considerable experience in preparing children for all types of music awards at secondary school level. I am happy to provide a limited series of lessons to prepare a pupil fully for this type of event.

I also recognise the limitations of time on some instrumental teachers, particularly in schools, when it comes to preparing pupils for music exams. Therefore I am also available to give coaching in aural work either specifically for an exam or generally to improve a pupil’s skills.

Music Theory and Composition Classes – The Associated Board requires all pupils wishing to progress beyond grade 5 in their instrument, to have taken and passed grade 5 theory. Many pupils see this as a stumbling block to their progress, but I feel that it encourages the pupil to look at the building blocks of composition and therefore to understand the music they are playing or singing more readily. I provide individual lessons and classes in music theory, specifically aimed at working towards the grade 5 syllabus. Lessons are also available in music composition and in particular how to notate it using Sibelius music software. Please contact me for further details and fees.

Finally, if you have any doubts about learning how to sing or play a musical instrument, take a look at some of these websites and articles:

Mail Online Playing music as a child helps you stay sharp in old age

Mail Online Why playing a musical instrument can help children learn with language skills

The Telegraph Playing a Musical Instrument Makes you Brainier

and this recent BBC news article:
Music and Dyslexia

Testimonial from Mrs. Ruth Adams, parent of two boys at Manor Lodge School

Jill’s unbounded energy and enthusiasm has motivated both of my children to enjoy their music, both instrumentally and vocally, throughout their primary school years. She has accompanied my sons sympathetically and supportively at so many concerts and school productions and always delights in their performance. Her insight into, and wealth of knowledge and experience of the secondary school music scholarship system proved indispensable for both my sons in gaining their awards at their chosen school. She will always go that extra mile to ensure that both child and parent are fully appraised and ready for every musical occasion. We as a family know that it was her dedication, support and encouragement, her just criticism and lavish praise, which put both our sons firmly on the musical path they still love to follow. A truly exceptional teacher.