I’m very lucky to have had two very special teachers. My first proper teacher, Janet Baldwin, lived down the road from my school and I used to walk up the hill to her house and play to her. She loved how music told stories and how it could make us feel. She would bash through piano parts (occasionally hitting some of the right notes), thought that singing was probably more important than playing the oboe, and was the first person to show me how magical and wonderful music could be. She was one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and it was during lessons with her that I completely fell in love with playing the oboe. (I also inherited her love of bashing through piano parts and singing... a lot.)
Melanie Ragge was the next teacher I would see on a weekly basis when I started at the Royal Academy of Music. She once described her own piano teacher as being like an iron fist in a pink velvet glove, a turn of phrase which goes some way to describing Mel. She was exceptionally analytical and would listen to me while perched on the end of a cream chaise longue, making a list of things to work on before offering me possible solutions from a seemingly never-ending well of tightly crafted metaphors and anatomical insight (having spent her first few years at university studying medicine). She was incredibly caring and helped me to overcome the oboe’s considerable challenges and strive to play with real beauty and polish.
For me, one of the great joys of being a musician is creating and sharing magical moments with the people you play with. I’m very lucky to have had some really memorable moments - from playing Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet at the Proms with the National Youth Orchestra alongside 165 other musicians my age, to performing Brahms' Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and the Chipping Campden Festival Orchestra in the beautiful St James’ Church, and recently at Buckingham Palace with Singing with Friends - a choir I co-lead for people living with dementia and their families, to name a few!
As well as playing the oboe, I also really enjoy my work with Wigmore Hall Learning, leading workshops and presenting concerts across their programme areas, including working with early years, schools, in SEND settings, hospitals and with people living with dementia.
Royal Academy of Music
University of Oxford
If you could reinvent the way we experience classical music, what would you change?
A couple of years ago I went to see an amazing concert with the New York Phil doing a staged performance of Petrushka with War Horse style puppets which was amazing! Similarly, I find what Chicago Symphony Orchestra are doing with their ‘Beyond the Score’ stuff really engaging and exciting. I think concert planners should think more about how they want their audience to experience the music, not just what is the music that’s going to be played. Check out Zoe Martlew’s Revue Z...
What do you do with your time when you’re not playing music?
Most days I go for a dip in one of the bathing ponds at Hampstead Heath. It’s been surprisingly addictive, especially the rush of blood you get now that the temperature has dropped. I’m also trying my hand at improv comedy which is really fun! The unpredictability keeps you really ‘in the moment’ and it’s hilarious seeing what your teammates come up with!