I started playing the piano at the age of 3. Even at that age, I was able to pick out tunes and nursery rhymes, playing melodies with my Dad. My grandfather from Tyneside, was an amazing pianist, who was asked to go & study at Juillard School in America, but sadly didn’t have the funding to do it.
I first heard Sergei Rachmaninoff, the movement of his 2nd piano concerto (which is included in the film ‘Brief Encounter’) when I was about 13. I remember standing there thinking ‘wow’ how did write such a beautiful piece of music. He inspired me to practice more and more, until I was playing 4 hours a day.
I entered my first local music festive competition, aged 13, in the ‘open class’ competing against accomplished pianists, aged 20-50. The piece I performed was Prelude in C Sharp Minor by Rachmaninoff. To my delight and the amazement of many, I won.
From here, I was determined to master a technically difficult piece; Chopin’s ‘Fantasie Impromptu’ – it took me a year, but I did it and it become a regular ‘competition winning’ piece over the next couple of years.