My first experience of playing the piano was when my sister started lessons (she being two years older than me) and she showed me how to play one of the pieces. It could well have been Frere Jacques, but in all honesty I can’t remember what it was, only that I enjoyed being able to produce a recognisable tune on this huge piece of musical furniture.
Following this formative event, I started piano lessons after my 6th birthday, working my way through the ABRSM board grades, achieving grade 8 some ten years later. I had the privilege of being taught by Julia Freeman, whose focus on developing my technique, finger strength and musical interpretation have proved invaluable ever since.
Cello was a different animal altogether, and I chose to take this up at the age of 8 so I could play with others in an orchestral or ensemble setting. My first teacher was Helen Wallace, now former-editor of Strad magazine and regular contributor to BBC Music magazine. From the age of 11, I was taught by Kathleen Anderson, sadly no longer with us, but one of the top teachers of the time. Some of my fondest memories of those lessons was the hour-long wait that often followed, which would be spent chatting with her husband, Brigadier Wil Anderson, whose WWII antics are infamous.
My exposure to great teachers continued when I studied music A-Level at Farnham College under the tutelage of David Victor-Smith, whose love and knowledge of all things musical was contagious. Then, after my music degree (attaining a 2:1), I went through the ABRSM’s Certificate of Teaching course, lead by David Barnard and Nils Franke, completing this in 2001.
I started teaching the piano at age 17, forming the Hall Piano Studio in June 1994, branching out shortly afterwards into cello, guitar and general music tuition.
As a guitarist, I have been a member of various bands over the years. The first was my university band, The Coopers. In more recent years, I’ve gigged in bands at local pubs and performed at open mic nights. I’ve just joined another band as the keyboard player, but we’re not yet performing in public.
Outside the realm of music, I work as an audio visual technician for conferences across Europe (which basically involving setting up all the sound, lighting and projecting equipment then running it for the duration of the conference); I have published three novels and a bunch of non-fiction books (they’re on my other site phinhall.net if you happen to be interested); run a smallholding with chickens, pigs and bees (though goats are my favourite), and have a fishing boat that I ignore due to a fear of the sea. My wife and I have four children, which is more than enough!