Jillian Leddra – violin teacher and Musical Director of the BSG
Jillian was brought up in New Zealand but studied the violin in Australia. After graduating she played professionally in the Queensland Theatre Orchestra playing both Opera and Ballet.
While attending an Australian String Teachers’ conference she met the first American teacher to study with Suzuki in Japan, John Kendall. Mr Kendall, a graduate of the Juillard School in New York, offered her a scholarship to do a Masters in Performance and Teaching (Suzuki) in the USA. The programme included children who played Twinkle to Tchaikovsky and included teaching at summer workshops around America, national and international conferences. During this time Jillian was also fortunate to be coached in Chamber Music by the Beaux Art Trio which built on the coaching she had received from the Coull Quartet in Australia. After graduation Jillian taught at the Suzuki Program at Stony Brook University for a year before moving to London.
Jillian established, and is the Director of, The Bayswater Suzuki Group which was based at the London Suzuki Group building in Bayswater. Before long, the Group outgrew the building and they started using College Park School, Bayswater which enabled Jillian to start an orchestra programme. The Bayswater Suzuki Group is now based in Holland Park at St Clements and St James Primary School. The Programme has grown such that it now includes three Orchestras, Chamber Music for advanced players, Choirs, Violin & Cello groups and a biannual Tour Group to different European countries.
Jillian directs three summer courses: A Chamber Music Course, Sfzorando (Suzuki Course PT to Book 7) and the Extravaganza (Opera or Musical) in the Summer Holidays. Over the last 20 years Jillian has been invited to teach at Workshops in many European countries including, Ireland, Holland, France and Spain.
In 2016 Jillian was delighted to accept the Directorship of Bryanston International Summer School which she has taught at since it began.
See also Jillian’s teaching dates for this term.
Helen Neilson – cello teacher
Helen Neilson teaches cello across an eclectic range of environments, working with students mostly aged 4-18 from a variety of different backgrounds. She is fascinated by the developmental processes at play through learning a string instrument and takes a holistic approach towards her work. Helen is a strong believer in the value of group work as a complement to individual lessons and is convinced by the power of environment upon development. She has a great respect for children and for their innate capabilities, and very much enjoys helping to facilitate the natural process of children learning from each other. She is interested in the human journey ahead of final outcomes, although interestingly she finds that looking after the former often leads to results of excellence in the latter.
Helen’s home teaching practice, “Our Cello Community @ The Lodge, SW4” is well established, and she has enjoyed seeing her first generation through from age 4 to their later teenage years and out into the world. The next generation is now thriving and many of her students attend the Bayswater Suzuki Group. Her wider professional activities include being cello tutor and Head of Strings at Latymer Upper School, where she is enjoying developing the chamber music programme and likes running large workshops with visiting teachers for the string students to help motivate and inspire them. She teaches cello at St Paul’s Girls’ School and also on a whole class strings programme at the Sir John Cass Foundation Primary School in Tower Hamlets where every child is fully funded to learn a string instrument as part of their school curriculum. She is also a deputy teacher at Morley College Centre for Young Musicians and the Royal College of Music Junior Department, and is a consultant to the London Music Masters programme, helping to train some of their cello teachers. She was previously Director of Cello Club, the junior division of the London Cello Society and now enjoys teaching regularly on their Cello Days and workshop events. Courses taught on include Bryanston; CelloFest; Pro Corda Cello Course; Bayswater Chamber Music Course.
Chamber music and orchestral playing have always been strong passions for her. Helen holds chamber music prizes for string quartet playing from the Royal College of Music and Trinity College of Music. She enjoys working on collaborations with her colleagues when the opportunity arises, and has given recitals at numerous venues in and around London and beyond. She plays regularly with many freelance orchestras, including St Paul’s Sinfonia of which she was a founder member. She played cello with them for ten years, including in their tenth anniversary concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2015, and has regularly played double bass with them since then, including principal. She mostly freelances as a double bass player now with a variety of orchestras. She loves travelling with orchestras and enjoys dates in London and around the English countryside as well as tours further afield including trips to India and China.
She also loves playing with large cello groups. A highlight concert for her was playing with 167 cellists from around the world, directed by Mstislav Rostropovich, “Slava”, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1999 at a street party for 100,000 people to mark the tenth anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. They played Bach Arioso and Davidoff Hymn, and also played as backing string for German pop band “The Scorpions” in “The Wind of Change”. It was very cold outdoors in November so all performers had mountaineers’ hand warmers inside their fingerless gloves!
Her own cello studies included time learning with Anna Shuttleworth, Melissa Phelps and Naomi Butterworth. Her RCM studies were funded with generous support from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. She has been very grateful for the opportunities for collaboration and observation of a wonderful range of teachers from the international circuits offered through her Suzuki work and training. She has learned a huge amount from too many to mention, but is particularly grateful for her opportunities to learn from Carey-Beth Hockett.
Helen loves swimming in the sea, so any opportunity to combine this with music is always a hit. She has to be very strong to carry all her instruments around, so is frequently to be found in the hot yoga studio. She cycles whenever she can, but not when carrying a double bass!
Matthew Hickman – violin teacher
Whilst at school, Matthew was leader of the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra for two years, taking them on tours to Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. He went on to read Maths at Queens’ College, Cambridge. During his time there, he played for three years with CUMS 1, and performed Bloch’s Baal Shem Suite with the orchestra of the St. Margaret’s Society.
He now plays regularly for both the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and Chelsea Opera Group at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cadogan Hall and St.John’s Smith Square. He also performs in concerts and at functions with the Gallery String Quartet that he set up in 2012.
He currently teaches the violin full-time at Ashmole Primary School for London Music Masters – a musical charity that provides every child in the school with free violin tuition using a strongly Suzuki-based approach.
Musicianship and Singing
Helen Hugh-Jones – Assistant
Helen was a Choral Scholar at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, touring America, France, Ireland and the UK (and read Classics in her spare time). She played the violin in orchestras and ensembles for several shows and operas during her time there, and often performed in College recitals. After an MA in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, she now works part-time for an interior designers and is also a freelance illustrator.
On Saturdays, she takes chamber music, accompanies the younger classes, works with the orchestra and takes sectionals. She also helps to run the Summer Extravaganza, which she has attended almost every summer since she was 7.