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Violin, English, and academic music tutor

May Robertson Classical Violin Teacher (Bath)

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. Rather than teaching, I'm currently giving myself lots of space to play music, to write, and to have Deep Thoughts about Life. But I'll update this page if and when that 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 opposite. I like to make things interesting for their own sake). You might also seek me out for my insight into the academic sides of Music and English. 'A real English genius' was the verdict of my fellow pupils in my end-of-school yearbook. I wouldn't want to prove them wrong.
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 demanding job, 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.

This year, I've stayed aware of the demands of school life another way. I've written content aimed at teachers and classroom assistants for Mantra Lingua; this has been enthusiastically received.

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 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 my home or yours.
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. I teach English at all ages to undergraduate level and music up to sixth-form level. Not long ago I helped a graduate to prepare for her QTS Literacy test.
Which qualifications do you prepare your students for?
I am very happy to prepare violin students for grade exams as part of an imaginative curriculum, and will enter them when I believe that they are ready. I prepare students for ABRSM music theory examinations. In English, I can assist students in preparation for qualifications including 11+, GCSE and sixth-form level examinations such as A-level. In Music, I can teach up to sixth-form level. When there's a specific exam in mind, my aim is to provide targeted exam-focused work whilst fully utilising the potential for private tutoring to explore a subject further than narrow school-based teaching often can. I want to develop the student's experience and understanding as an individual in a way that is valuable and meaningful for them beyond the immediate pressures of examinations. It is worth saying here that having been homeschooled myself for three years of primary school, I understand what one-on-one tuition can offer.
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.