Keyboard Programme

Study Leader: James Craig

The CAT offers tuition in keyboard instruments form a team of extremely experienced teachers, in a range of musical styles.

In addition to their individual instrumental lesson and music language tuition, all keyboard students rehearse weekly in either a small ensemble (formed through close links with all other programmes) or as part of a weekly piano class. The piano class is an opportunity to perform and be taught in front of their colleagues, gives ensemble opportunities within the group and introduces a wide range of piano related topics. Most students enter for Associated Board music exams up to diploma level.

Pianists at the CAT benefit from truly outstanding masterclasses from some of the leading UK pianists; over recent years there have been frequent and returning visits from Vanessa Latarche (Professor and head of department at the Royal College of Music); Martin Roscoe (International pianist and Professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama); Ronan O’Hora (International concert pianist and head of the piano department at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama); Janos Balasz, Cathy Krier and Christopher Park (ECHO Rising Stars); Katya Apikesheva; Mariam Batsashvilli; Alexandra Dariescu (Young Concert Artist Trust); and renowned Jazz Pianist Elliot Galvin.

It was great to work with the students at Sage Gateshead, they were all very enthusiastic and committed to the work we did. It’s fantastic that an organisation like this actively seeks to educate students in new challenging ways of creating music
Elliot Galvin, Jazz Pianist and Composer

Keyboard skills are a very valuable asset for any musician and many students whose first study is not piano are given the opportunity to take piano as a second study. Many of our second study pianists achieve success in the higher grades and enjoy the opportunity to play in our lunchtime concerts.

For those with an interest in jazz piano, we have a close link with our Popular and Contemporary Programme which provides further opportunity.

For further information on the Centre for Advanced Training, including on dates and content of auditions, please click on Information for Students

Piano Team
Study Leader: James Craig joined the cello section of Royal Northern Sinfonia on completing post-graduate studies with Michael Evans, Anna Shuttleworth and Christopher Bunting at the Royal College of Music. In 1995 a Northern Arts scholarship enabled him to study in Israel, Finland, France, Italy and England with Marcel Bergman (principal cello Israel Philharmonic), Johannes Goritzki, Philippe Muller, Karine Georgian and Amaryllis Fleming.
Since returning, James has also taught extensively. Many students have gained membership of the National Youth Orchestra, and have become professional musicians themselves. For many years, he wrote and presented workshops in schools, including string quartet and composition coaching to ‘A’ level standard. Master-classes have included ‘Awards for Young Musicians’ and James is involved with Middlesbrough Council’s mentoring scheme.

Venera Bojkova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and studied at the State Conservatoire of Music. As a pianist, Miss Bojkova has performed throughout Europe, in Russia, South Africa and the USA. She teaches piano at the Sage Gateshead, Newcastle and Durham Universities, and is Music Director of Bishop Auckland Choral Society. As a harpist she studied with Suzanna Klintcharova in Sofia, and has performed as a soloist and orchestral harpist throughout the North-east.

Nick Butters studied music at Newcastle University before embarking on a busy career encompassing chamber music, recitals, jazz, blues and musical theatre, where he worked for a number of years as a musical director. In addition to his teaching and accompanying at the Centre for Advanced Training, he is a visiting piano teacher at The Kings School, Tynemouth. He is also a regular accompanist for ABRSM grade and diploma exams around the region.

Yoshie Kawamura

Julia Kennard is originally from Stockton-on-Tees where she began piano lessons at the age of nine with Marian Creaser. After leaving school she won an Associated Board Scholarship to study at The Royal College of Music in London. Her career since graduation has combined teaching, accompanying and performing; now her children have flown the nest she is once more resident in the North East of England.

Antonina Lax studied piano at the Tyumen Art College in Russia, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Piano Performing and Teaching and later with Masters Degree. She also has a PhD in the History of the Russian Language and Culture. Antonina has taken part in many concerts as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician in Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine and England. After moving to England Antonina participated in some of Changeling Productions and InterOpera Projects in the North East. She currently teaches piano at Barnard Castle School and prepares students for any grade or level up to MA.

Emily Murray has had a varied career as a pianist, trumpeter and violinist as an army musician in the Band of the Welsh Guards and as an accompanist and teacher in London. Having returned to the North East, Emily is now Assistant Director of Music at Durham School and regularly performs as a chamber musician, accompanist and solo recitalist.

Sarah Robinson studied music at Manchester University before moving to London. After teaching piano and flute for some years she went to Hungary for two years to study music teaching at the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music. At the Institute she completed the Advanced Level in musicianship studies, including ear training and theory, as well as studying piano pedagogy, lieder accompaniment and vocal conducting. On her return to the North East in 2007, Sarah gained an LRSM diploma in piano performance. Sarah currently works as an accompanist, freelance teacher of piano, teaches independent group musicianship classes locally, and is music director of Riding Mill Choral Society and Minims Junior Choir.

Oona Prendiville is originally from London where she began her music formation at the Purcell School of Music. She studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music with Frank Wibault and continued her Post Graduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music with Sulamita Aronovsky. Her early career revolved around teaching (Junior Guildhall) and accompanying. She spent 14 years living in France and 8 in the Netherlands. During this time she studied with Francoise Parrot-Hanlet at the ‘Ecole Normale, Alfred Cortot, taught piano from beginner through to diploma level, performed regularly works for 2/3 pianos, (Salle Cortot, Chateau Vaux le Vicompte) accompanied local church and school choirs, and was involved in producing educational music projects within local schools. She has recently moved back to the UK and is enjoying participating in the vibrant music world of the North East of England.