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Dr Sasha Valeri Millwood MA (Cantab.) MMus (GSMD) PhD (Glas.)
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Dr Sasha Valeri Millwood MA (Cantab.) MMus (GSMD) PhD (Glas.)

BA Hons
(verified) PhD
MA (University of Cambridge)
MMus (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)
Instruments: pianoforte
music theory
classical improvisation
Genre/Style(s): classical
contemporary classical
classical improvisation
music theory
harmony and counterpoint
pianoforte accompaniment
Ability Levels: Beginners to Advanced
Memberships: (verified) Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)


Accomplished professional pianist and musicologist who studied at Cambridge and GSMD (see my biography for details; below is a summary of my approach to teaching).

Online tuition available via Zoom or Skype.


Teaching is not about telling the pupil what to do: it should involve attuning him/her to perceive his/her own strengths and weaknesses, and to appreciate the demands of the music. In practice, this means that the teacher must resist the temptation to simply point out errors and immediately cite the "correct" solution; instead, the teacher must draw to the pupil's attention the erroneous matter at hand and guide him/her (with a few carefully chosen words and gestures) towards understanding for himself/herself what he/she needs to do, and why. It is my belief that a pupil learns far more by spending two minutes scrutinising an issue that the teacher has brought to his/her attention, than by being told in two seconds, "X was wrong; it should be Y".

Discipline and thorough planning are vital to making progress as a pianist. However, this should neither be taken to entail interminable scales, nor depriving performances of spontaneity. On the contrary, it is my belief that equipping a pupil with a robust technique is ultimately a means to an end: achieving a security and certitude that will enable him or her to give confident and spirited performances (which may well be paratactic in nature), unhampered by nerves.

Another vital attribute I try to cultivate is restraint. The overwhelming majority of pianists, myself included, will, at some point, manifest a propensity to play excessively loud and/or excessively fast; surmounting these temptations will always be an ongoing struggle, so they need to be addressed early.

I expect my students to practise between lessons, on a decent instrument. Practice sessions need not be very long to be effective, but should be frequent (ideally, twice a day: in the morning and again in the evening).


Whilst I am strongly opinionated in my creative outlook and interests, it is not my aim to produce a stylistic clone in a composition student. Indeed, it is my belief that the best composition pedagogues are those whose students have gone on to embark in radically different directions from each other.

Such diversity notwithstanding, there is much to be said for cultivating a highly disciplined approach to acquiring the rudiments of writing music, entailing a rigorous and graduated study of harmony and counterpoint alongside intrinsically creative endeavours (of course, it would be simplistic and counterproductive to construe "theoretical exercise" and "creative endeavour" as mutually exclusive: many of Bach's greatest works were theoretical experiments in the possibilities of counterpoint). Many of the most subversive and revolutionary composers possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of music theory (most notably Schoenberg, who wrote several treatises thereon), and there is some veracity in the cliché, that "you need to know the rules before you break them".

I expect my students to draft compositions by hand; computer software may be used to prepare fair copies, once a thorough grasp of the rudiments of music engraving has been attained.

**Practical notes**

For pianoforte, I recommend lessons of one hour (or, for very young pupils, forty-five minutes) -- this is because my teaching method involves in-depth examination of issues, whereby the pupil is challenged to work out and understand solutions for himself/herself, a process which necessarily takes longer than simply barking instructions (which, a week later, will have been forgotten) at him/her. Fees for *accompaniment* work differ from teaching fees; please see for details. I teach from my home, near Brentwood High Street and less than ten minutes' walk from Brentwood railway station. I also offer tuition online, via Zoom or Skype.

Contact Sasha Valeri

Address: Brentwood (near the High Street and Brentwood railway station)
Greater London
Phone: +44 1277 212625
Fee (60 minutes): £36.00

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