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Violin, English, and academic music tutor

May Robertson Classical Violin Teacher (South East London)

May Robertson Gold Member

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  • Professional Qualification MA Cantab
  • Professional Qualification MMus Violin (Distinction)
  • Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS, formerly CRB) Check CRB Checked
  • Professional Membership Incorporated Society of Musicians


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Personal Message
Hello! Thanks for coming here. I now have all the students I want in south-east London, but I'll update this page when my situation changes.
Which subject(s) do you teach?
I know how to give violin and music-theory inspiration. (No, really; it can be done! Look at the music-theory testimonial. I like to make things interesting for their own sake).
Tell me about your qualifications.
Right, deep breath. I have an MMus (Distinction) in violin from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and an MA (Cantab) (2.1) in English from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Going further back, I have three A grades at A-level (English, Music and French) and an A at AS-level (Fine Art). (I left school before the A* grade was introduced at this level!). Never one to be short of a qualification, I also picked up a Distinction in something called an Advanced Extension Award, in French. This all happened at the same time as intensive violin studies.

I have eight A*s at GCSE, including one of the top five marks in the UK for English Literature. That was a happy day. I remember being particularly happy with my A* in Art, which was considered very difficult to achieve then. I don't currently teach Art, but, as they say, never say never...
What kind of experience do you have?
I've taught violin, music theory and academic English, and I've worked with pupils at a variety of ages and stages, from a gentleman playing the violin for love alongside his prestigious career, to little children just starting out. Alongside one-to-one tuition, I've worked with groups. I've chaired sixth-form seminars in English Literature, putting together university-level materials for interested students to prepare. (That was when I was a Graduate Music Assistant at Wells Cathedral School; true to form, I couldn't keep to one department). I then expanded into online seminar-giving for the literary website Peripeteia.

I mentioned my year as a Graduate Music Assistant at Wells Cathedral School, a specialist music school. That gave me wide experience of working with young people, supervising practice, taking rehearsals, and assisting with high-calibre instrumental teaching, alongside teaching the violin one-to-one. At Wells I taught aural skills in preparation for ABRSM exam aural tests, and taught music theory both individually and in a class setting.

Last year, I stayed aware of the demands of school life another way, writing content aimed at teachers and classroom assistants for Mantra Lingua; this was enthusiastically received. You can read more of my writing on my blog.

As a musician, I perform with high-level early-music ensembles. I play solo too, as you can hear in 'My Files'. I specialise in the creative and imaginative side of 'historically informed' performance on gut strings, with lots of spontaneity and immediateness, a direct emotional connection and a sense of fun. I also work with the South Asian arts organisation Kadam, on varied projects including historical improvisation for theatre, working with kathak, and accompanying the Odissi Ensemble.
How much do you charge?
My general policy is £30 for an hour, with shorter sessions possible (£20 for half-hour lessons, which often works best for young children). We begin with an initial meeting, during which you and I get to know each other and decide whether we are right for each other. As part of this, there is a short teaching session; I do not charge for this.
Where do you teach?
I'll teach at your home, and I'm happy to cycle around Greenwich, Blackheath, and Eltham. I'm happy to venture as far as Southwark, New Cross...
When are you available?
Tuition times are flexible around my work and your schedule; we can discuss together the best time for you.
Which ages and levels do you teach?
I teach the violin to all ages and stages, from total beginners to advanced players. My pupils have ranged in age from 6 to 50. At the moment I particularly enjoy working with adult professionals who are enjoying their violin playing alongside their careers.
Which qualifications do you prepare your students for?
I'm happy to prepare violin students for grade exams as part of an imaginative curriculum, but I don't believe in anyone feeling pressured before they are ready to play in front of an examiner. I'll prepare students for ABRSM music theory examinations.
Do you have an up-to-date DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service, formerly CRB) Certificate?
I have an enhanced CRB certificate, dated September 2010.
Describe your arrangements for online tutoring.
I do teach by telephone, Skype, and email, when distance makes face-to-face lessons difficult. We can discuss your individual needs together.
Do you belong to any professional organisations?
Yes - the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
Where and with whom did you train?
My violin professors included Patricia Noall, Mark Knight, Diana Cummings, Walter Reiter and Kati Debretzeni. My supervisors at Cambridge included Professor Helen Cooper, N.K. Sugimura, Dr Jason Scott-Warren and Jeremy Prynne.