It’s hard to believe we’re in May already, the days are certainly running into each a bit at the moment due to lockdown. On the bright side though, lockdown means lots of books and music (for me anyway).

Teaching at the University of Liverpool, and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, has moved online. In a short space of time many of us have become proficient at online platforms like Skype, Zoom and MS Teams. Technology allows us to keep in touch and continue with our lives, in one form anyway, as the world holds its breath to see what happens next. Lecturing at the University of Liverpool will culminate in a few weeks with assessments (now all online) – my students are all great and the majority have taken online teaching and learning in their stride. The Birmingham Junior Conservatoire is also adapting to an online world. My teaching on a Saturday is online, theory transfers quite well with some inventive resources and new ways of explaining certain elements. Ensemble piano teaching took a bit more flexibility of thought, piano duets definitely break rules of social distancing. So instead, my students are setting out on a journey of discovery for accompanying repertoire, from Grade 5 and above syllabuses for voice, strings, woodwind and brass. It is likely, after all, that as pianists they will accompany at some point in their careers, the earlier they become familiar with repertoire and the main principles of accompanying the better. Our world is going to be online for a while it seems, but music at least continues.

Performance work is on hold due to lockdown, but I’m taking the opportunity to learn new repertoire and plan exciting new projects with musical colleagues. In a world of uncertainty, the importance of the Arts has never been more paramount. It is so lovely to see music spreading around the world as musicians, young and old, use technology to spread joy and a smile in musical form.

In these uncertain times I send all best wishes to you and yours. I will leave you today with two of my favourite quotes, first, as Dumbledore said, ‘happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light’. May music be a part of that light, whether it be Schubert or David Bowie, and as Shakespeare wrote, ‘if music be the food of love, play on’.

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