My first musical memory was hearing my Dad play the violin with his folk band at a festival in Sidmouth. From a young age, I was taken to ceilidhs with him and loved to watch people having so much fun dancing to the music. This was my first introduction to the violin, and inevitably, I wanted to join in! I started learning the violin when I was six. My parents took me to a Prom at the Royal Albert Hall and at school a while after we were asked to write down what we wanted to do when we grew up – I wrote that ‘I want to play the violin with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall’, and my aspirations haven’t changed much since then.
I grew up in Brentwood, Essex where fortunately there were a huge variety of opportunities for young musicians. Starting in Brentwood Beginner Strings and working all the way up to Essex Youth Orchestra, I threw myself into these opportunities. After studying for two years at Junior Trinity, I knew that I wanted to pursue music as a career. Though I was intent on going to music college, I ended up gaining a place at the University of Cambridge to read Music.
Cambridge, in hindsight, was exactly the right place for me. I gained confidence both musically and personally and was heavily involved in both orchestral and chamber music. I played with the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra, where I worked with conductors such as Sir Roger Norrington and Peter Stark. Alongside this, I became a member of Selwyn College Chapel Choir; singing became a real love of mine at university and kept me grounded during the busy and stressful terms at Cambridge.
After Cambridge, I was certain that I wanted to play the violin professionally. I took a year out to really focus on personal practice, whilst working as a peripatetic teacher with local music services. It was this year that I realised how much I enjoyed working with young people and inspiring them through music. I then successfully auditioned for a postgraduate place at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM). At RAM, things finally came together; having the time to devote to personal practise and weekly lessons with my teacher, my technique improved and my confidence blossomed.
Music has had an immeasurable impact on my life, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else now.
Whether performing or working in educational settings, I love seeing the happiness it brings to people. For this reason, I am passionate about bringing music to as many people as possible, whatever their circumstances. I have worked in hospitals, schools, prisons and with people with dementia – these have been some of my most fulfilling musical experiences.
When I’m not playing the violin, I enjoy doing Yoga (both as a way to relax and a way to cope with any tension), and love experimenting with vegan cooking. I find camping a perfect way to escape from any stresses, and every summer since I was five I have camped on the Isles of Scilly.
Royal Academy of Music
University of Cambridge
What’s your most memorable moment as a musician?
Something I don’t think I will ever forget was when I was doing an outreach project with adults with learning disabilities. One member of the group had severe autism and was extremely limited in speech. For most sessions, he would sit there in silence. At the beginning of one particular session, another musician (a harpist) started playing a hymn – he stood up, immediately recognising this tune and sang all three verses of the hymn at the top of his voice, asking us to accompany him with our instruments. To hear him communicate in such an expressive way through music was incredibly moving.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
I am a keen kayaker! I’ve been camping on the Isles of Scilly most summers, and kayaking is a really fun and much cheaper way of getting between different islands.