I enjoy coaching and encouraging pianists whether they be young or old, and offer many years of experience as a teacher, examiner, adjudicator, and workshop presenter.
My students have gained a variety of diplomas (from the ATCL to the DipABRSM, LRSM, and FRSM in both performing and teaching). They have also performed at some of London’s most prestigious concert halls and have won undergraduate places (and scholarships) to study the piano at many of the UK’s premier music conservatoires.
I adjudicate for the British and International Federation of Festivals and have examined for the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music); both the graded examinations and diploma exams.
Over the past few years I’ve adjudicated at the following competitions and festivals: the 65th and 70th Hong Kong Schools Music Festival (2013 & 2018), the Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2016 (USA), the annual EPTA Piano Competition (U.K.), the Singapore Performing Arts Festival (2017), the Junior Department Piano Festival held at the Wigmore Hall in London, the Stars of the Albion Grand Prix (London), the 2017 Beethoven Junior Intercollegiate Piano Competition (organised by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe), and the 3rd Overseas Performers Music Festival held in Singapore.
I was a faculty member at the 2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018 Overseas Masters Winter Piano Academy held at the Yehudi Menuhin School in the U.K., and have also conducted many workshops for EPTA (European Piano Teachers Association). I regularly coach a bilingual community piano project in Germany, giving workshops and master classes at the IKM Gelsenkirchen (near Düsseldorf), and have given several technique workshops at Yamaha Music London, Forsyths Music (Manchester) and for EPTA at Schott in London. I tutor a yearly weekend course at Jackdaws Music Education Trust in Frome, Somerset (U.K.), and offer several intermediate weekend piano retreats every year at Finchcocks Music in Kent (U.K.), as well as teaching at PIANO WEEK. I’m really looking forward to leading the Piano Teacher Course at the 2020 Chetham’s International Piano Summer School.
I especially like to work with piano teachers and I regularly present workshops and classes around the world, particularly in the Far East. I’ve presented at several conferences and pedagogy forums around the world, including the 2017 UCSI University Piano Pedagogy Conference in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), the 2019 Frankfurt Music Messe (Germany), and in Jakarta (Indonesia) at the I-MEC, where I gave a week of classes and workshops for teachers and students as part of the Cantata Youth Music Scheme. And I’ll be presenting at the MTNA National Conference to be held in Chicago, USA, in March 2020.
My aim when teaching is to help students develop a workable technique and one which eliminates and alleviates tension and stiffness, keeping the fingers firm whilst producing a sonorous tone. Tightness in the upper body causes many problems when playing the piano, and I work through a series of simple exercises, focusing on assimilating the necessary flexible, relaxed movement, with the intention of avoiding injury and pain.
I’m a member of the teaching staff at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama and am an Honorary Master Teacher at the Tom Lee Academy in Hong Kong. I’ve also taught the piano at Reading University and the Royal College of Music Junior Department.
Workshops and course participants
‘Thank you so much for your technique workshops and the masterclasses. Your handouts are very helpful in understanding how to practise that deep touch feel at home. It was clear that your students were able to feel the contact with the key more readily than others and (perhaps because of that) there was a confidence in their playing that was quite admirable.’
Janet Gilman: Participant on a 2020 Jackdaws Music Education Trust Piano Course (UK)
‘I wanted to thank you for your patience and encouragement. I really enjoyed the weekend and came away feeling inspired. Above all I learned some very useful tips which hopefully will help me to take my playing onto the next stage – particularly the importance of positional playing.’
Jocelyn Dawson-Wood: Participant on a 2019 Finchcocks Intermediate Piano Course (UK)
‘Melanie Spanswick came to Manchester on January 26th (2019) to do a workshop at Forsyths music shop and what a treat it was! Nobody was disappointed and any reader who gets the opportunity should go to one of those workshops. We can’t wait for her to return. Having retired and taken up the piano I became despondent with the teachers I had. I was about to give up when I discovered Pianist (Magazine) and Melanie’s books’.
Michael Owen: Participant of a Forsyths Workshop in 2019 (printed in the ‘letters’ section of Pianist Magazine, March 2019, U.K.)
‘I learnt so much from you in the past 48 hours, and really enjoyed myself too. A brilliant teacher, luxury accommodation and all those pianos is a perfect combination. Thank you again for your wisdom and patience.’
Judith Serota: Participant on the 2018 Finchcocks Intermediate Piano Course (U.K.)
‘Many thanks to Melanie, the most inspiring teacher, helpful, patient, understanding and full of advice for us all. A weekend which is forever in my precious memories.‘
Sylvie Volve: Participant on the 2018 Finchcocks Intermediate Piano Course (U.K.)
‘That was a really good weekend Melanie. As an adult beginner I leant an awful lot and it was inspirational seeing the others play their pieces. I move forward now with renewed optimism and a new teacher 😀. Thanks for your patience !’
Andrew Carr: Participant on the 2016 Jackdaws Music Education Trust Course (U.K.)
‘A very enjoyable course Melanie. A lot of information was covered. Really appreciated the technical help and also watching your approach to teaching the other students. Alex’s food was indeed wonderful, catering for so many varied food requirements. Such a high standard of skills from the variety of participants. Very enjoyable indeed. Looking forward to another course in the future – can’t have too much knowledge, always willing to learn more.Thanks again Melanie. Highly recommended!’
Maggie George: Participant on the 2015 Jackdaws Music Education Trust Course (U.K.)
‘The guest speaker for the April 2016 guitar workshop was the fabulous Melanie Spanswick (pianist). She gave a brilliant workshop about sight-reading and memorisation and everyone took away a lot of ideas. Coupled with my talk on fretboard knowledge and strategies to learn the fretboard more thoroughly, everyone felt more comfortable with the prospect of sight-reading by the end! Hugely enjoyable.’
Fiona Harrison: Guitarist, teacher and educator (U.K.)
‘I had not been to this kind of master class for a little while and the one that you held was an update for me. And it was superb.’
Maria Yau: Piano Teacher (Hong Kong)
‘Thank you for your passion and hard work. You are very detailed in your teaching and persistently expect students to meet your standard. We appreciate you taking the time and effort to give us insights about technical exercises that will benefit many. Such detailed technical studies bring us basic knowledge of how to use our hands and fingers effectively, yet they all are rich in knowledge. We hope you don’t give up on us because we still have so much to learn and absorb from an experienced expert like you.’
Febe Warman: Director of the I-MEC and Cantata Music School (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Book, article and blog comments from readers
‘Melanie, I’d like to thank you for your piano methods, without them I wouldn’t be playing piano to the standard I am. A few years ago I looked into your methods as I felt many piano teachers don’t have the best techniques to show! However yours has helped me so much and has helped with my piano exam work too I will be taking grade 5 next month then going on to grade 7. My piano teacher is also a big fan of yours! Dr Antonina Lax, she also showed me the music you have written for her and her duet partner, which was beautiful to play! I really appreciate any of your help and advice as piano is my passion! I couldn’t be more grateful! Thank you!!’
Adam Harle: Pianist and Piano Teacher, (U.K.)
Just a very brief note to say thanks for your comments on fingering in Pianist Magazine. It was the best summary of fingering strategy I’ve ever read!
Gabe Litvin: (U.S.A.)
European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA)
‘HUGE thanks to Melanie for her thoughtful and inspiring coaching this afternoon at EPTA Brighton’s first ‘Young Pianists Performance Day’. It was lovely to watch the instant rapport Melanie developed with each performer throughout the workshops, and great to hear such varied repertoire in all performance categories. Melanie’s coaching on rhythmic discipline and encouraging a greater sense of freedom in the performers’ shoulders/arms/wrists was really valuable to all. I’m sure all performers came away with very constructive and helpful advice to take into the new year.’
Helen Wilson: EPTA (European Piano Teacher’s Association), Brighton.
‘Many thanks to Melanie for super ideas on tone production. A really good afternoon!’
Beate Wilmshurst: EPTA, Derby.
‘Learnt such a lot from Melanie, we can all use her tips in our teaching and own playing.’
Kath Hoblyn: Piano Teacher and EPTA master class audience member in Derby.
‘An enjoyable afternoon indeed, a very positive workshop – and further workshops hopefully will ensue. Thanks a lot Melanie, you were excellent.’
Liz Dewhurst: EPTA, Swansea.
‘I was completely blown away; in eight months of having lessons with Melanie, I had taken my diploma and received offers from six conservatories. I know that there was no way I could’ve done it without her, or without my own determination, and I’m also on the way to building a secure technique free of any pain, discomfort or tension.’
‘Thanks so much for your help. I already feel with the daily exercises and slow methodical practice my technique has improved. Only yesterday I tackled a piece of Bach that has evaded me for years and it clicked.’