“…a masterly pianist”
–The Observer, London
Currently accepting enthusiastic, motivated and committed piano students (children and adults) for lessons in her home studio in Whitwell, Herts.
Growing up, I had a thorough and purist classical training as a pianist: scales, studies, Bach, Beethoven, theory, and aural training. As a teacher, I synthesize the best of what I learned—a polished, consistent, reliable technique; fidelity to the written text; awareness of history and style; refined listening skills and musicianship—with a more imaginative approach to piano teaching.
I encourage students to bring their creativity not only to the repertoire we learn, but also to mprovisation, and may use a variety of resources—including listening, movement, singing and percussion—to increase my students’ involvement in, and enjoyment of, our lessons. After all, current research shows that when students are having fun, they learn better.
I adapt my lessons to the individual needs of each student, drawing on a background of fifteen years as a concert pianist and more than twenty five years of teaching at all levels, from beginner to postgraduate and professional.
A talented piano student from the age of five, Valerie has been teaching since she was a graduate student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London. There she worked with postgraduate piano students, as well as gifted children.
She has also run successful home studios in London and Los Angeles with regular student concerts and many examination successes. Her students have gone on to be professional musicians, actors, dancers, lawyers, and doctors–all with a deep love of music, and appreciation of the arts.
Valerie emphasizes the importance of technical, physical, mental, emotional and creative freedom at the piano, a wide range of repertoire, improvisation and composition.
"Valerie is an exceptional life coach. She helped me immensely in a challenging period of my life, when I was battling with low confidence, questioning the sanity of a music career and facing huge life changes. Her guidance, wisdom and gentle encouragement helped me to rediscover what I really love about music, to develop creative projects I'd never imagined I was capable of, and to navigate all the changes I needed to. She is warm, professional, full of good ideas and very easy to talk to."—Lindsey Fillingham, Cape Town, South Africa
"Just as every musician must strive to become his or her own best teacher, we also have to learn to become our own support system and champion, especially in difficult times. Val is not only an incredibly positive and encouraging person, but she has given me the tools to foster exactly that OUTSIDE of our weekly coaching sessions. I have found increased focus, more positivity, and a greater sense of WHY? I sing in the few months we have been working together. I am learning how to forgive myself for not being perfect, and am even beginning to embrace my personal and technical idiosyncrasies as worthy parts of myself as an artistic whole! I encourage every artist to explore the techniques and tools Val employs to ideally enjoy honing their craft and growing as a person more and more each day."—Betsy Horne, Coburg, Germany
"I was immediately drawn to Valerie's warmth and openness. It was a pleasure to work with her and I benefitted from her flexibility and creativity as a coach"—R.N., London
"I have really appreciated my sessions with Valerie. It is so valuable to have a coach who really gets me and I have so enjoyed talking about my dreams and plans. She has encouraged/sparked inspiration and been kind, warm, sensitive, intuitive, patient, open, and importantly for me, spiritual. I would recommend Valerie to anyone who needs a great life coach."—D.L.A., St Albans, Herts., UK
"I had the opportunity to work with Valerie over the past year and she really helped me focus on my goals and improving several areas of my life. She gave me several tools to manage many situations in my life. If you want to work on achieving your goals and get clear on what you want, I would recommend her. Great Experience!"—A.F., New York, NY, USA
"I got to meet Valerie through her website. I was looking for someone who coached musicians, and who could help me organize my life as a freelancer artist. My professional life has changed since I met her, as Valerie helped me to focus on the important aspects of my job, to outline my goals and to build strategies to achieve them. Also, I became more assertive and committed to my role in music as a composer and performer.Valerie is very sensitive, organized and serious about her job. She will always point out questions I would never ask myself, and makes me work hard in defining exactly what is it that I want. We have been working for a year now, and I strongly recommend her."—Sara S., New York, NY, USA
"Valerie had a wonderful effect on my life. As a musician, I felt trapped by the stress and relentlessness of the music business. She got me to focus on what I actually thought was important in life, instead of what others thought. I get much more enjoyment from making music, and I have expanded my life with other creative endeavors. My husband and I have made a trans-atlantic move, something we always wanted to do, but never really dared to, and we are all happier now (I include my son as well). Valerie is gentle, positive and caring - a wonderful person who has enriched my life no end."—A.M.
"Valerie's insight into the artist's daily challenges is truly remarkable. She really helped me explore a deeper side of myself."—S., Chicago, IL, USA
"After many professional and personal difficulties in the last few years, meeting and getting to work with Valerie has been such a help. I had decided to change my career direction, and I was more than stuck. I was afraid and unsure. Although I was a very successful professional player, the meanness of the music business had finally gotten to me. Valerie not only helped me get unstuck, but I could actually start to believe in my talents again. I learned that action is more important than results, at least initially, and I am grateful having found so much support and help from someone who really understands the soul of an artist. Thank you so much."—Vincent Ellin, Winnipeg, MB, CA
"While searching for directions to grow as a musician and an educator, Valerie was tremendously instrumental in guiding me to form a vision and to take steps that would make my dreams come true. She offered me her abundant professional knowledge with kind sensitivity, intuition, and a great sense of humor. Recently I realized with amazement that almost all of the aspects of the vision drawn up during those sessions have been fulfilled. I am truly grateful to Valerie for her skills as a life coach and her gifts as a teacher."—Raelynn Clare, Ojai, CA, USA
"When you want to make some changes and you need some help with the heavy lifting, Valerie is the perfect person to have in your corner. Empathetic, compassionate and yet, not at all afraid of the difficult questions, working with her is steadily changing my life. I have more focus, more choice, and greater joy in my work. The increased awareness of my responses that we have developed together has freed up considerable energy that I can invest in the direction of my choosing. This has, in turn, dramatically transformed my practice process as I find myself less judgemental and more open to trusting and working with my natural impulses. Having Val as my coach has been one of my smartest choices in recent years and I will always be grateful. "—A.B., Munich, Germany
"I started working with Valerie three years ago. I was incredibly frustrated with my work and I was looking for a coach who could help me devise some strategies to move my career forwards. Whilst I definitely achieved this outcome, my work with Valerie has given me so much more than that. When I first started, I didn't really possess the tools or the language to understand or even just accurately describe how I really felt. But, looking back now, I can see that I was burdened with all kinds of attitudes and anxieties that weren't just hampering my professional development but negatively affecting my entire life. For me, working with Valerie was like rediscovering a version of myself that I have kept locked away. Over the three years, things have started to shift slowly within me. I have become so much more self-aware and much more compassionate towards myself and my work. I have a developed a real sense of inner calm and strength and I feel like I can genuinely trust and rely on myself in a way that I have never felt before. My attitude to the future has completely changed. I don't dread it. I don't dwell on the past. I just feel excited about where life could possibly take me - not just professionally but in all aspects of my life. I really couldn't recommend Valerie highly enough. She is an absolute joy to work with - endlessly reliable, patient, practical, insightful, intelligent, flexible, compassionate. She's also somebody you can have a good old laugh with and I would look forward to her sessions. I don't know where I'd be without her!"—J.L., London, UK
"Valerie is warm, compassionate, and very easy to talk to. I always felt she understood my struggles and would gently try to guide me in the right direction. She has equipped me with the tools to overcome challenges I face performing and to look after my well-being. I am hugely grateful for her advice and support. "—F.D., London, UK
"I was lucky enough to have a batch of funded sessions with Valerie as part of my DYCP Arts Council grant. A couple of other musicians had thoroughly recommended Valerie to me and I am so pleased that they did! Valerie is warm, wise, empathetic and an incredible listener. I felt so safe sharing some really personal things with her which were always met with understanding and kindness. My expectations (to have some help sorting out my dreams and goals in my music career) were utterly surpassed with some huge breakthroughs in my personal life around confidence and relationships. The sessions felt personal and creative and I learnt an absolute tonne about myself – all of which is so relevant when you are a musician. I will carry what I learnt with Valerie for life!"—Anna Durance, Southampton, UK