Welcome to our weekly series where we highlight the great work that RBC alumni are doing in the field of music education.
Each week our guest will reveal insights such as what led them to do what they are currently doing, the projects they have been involved in since graduating, what inspires them on a daily basis, and what advice they would give to any music student considering working as a music educator in the future, whether full-time or as part of a rewarding portfolio career.
Episode 12: Stavroula Thoma
Years studied 2009-2011, 2014-2016
Course MMus, APD
First study Piano
I studied for a Master of Music (Specialist Performance, First Study: Solo Piano) from 2009-2011 and an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma of Music (Professional Performance) from 2014-2016, obtaining a Distinction in both certificates.
Since leaving the Conservatoire, I have worked with various organisations teaching piano. I started my teaching career in schools with the Birmingham Services for Education, formerly Birmingham Music service, while mentoring undergraduate and postgraduate students from RBC as part of their pedagogy modules.
I taught at Hackney Music Development Trust (HMDT) and Coventry Adult Education Service. After finishing my final course, I went on to collaborate with RBC in a variety of ways: In 2018, I was the adjudicator for RBC’s David Brookes Piano Competition; I was involved in an approval event for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Courses as a Graduate Representative; and in January 2019, I had the honour of performing a solo recital in the RBC Recital Hall. Since moving to London, I have been teaching at Central Foundation Boy’s School and in primary schools for Ealing Music Service.
As a teenager, I dreamt of leaving my home in Cyprus to study music in the UK. My main goal was always to become a music teacher. While studying for my Bachelors at Royal Holloway, University of London, my passion for performing grew. I decided to follow this path and entered the Conservatoire to study for a Master’s degree. I then spent a couple of years in Budapest, Hungary, as a Weingarten Scholar studying at the Liszt Academy.
I have been blessed to have studied with some fantastic teachers, beginning with Eva Georgiou, who was my teacher in Cyprus, and the first to ignite my passion for piano playing. Subsequent inspirational teachers have included, John Thwaites, Margaret Fingerhut, Orsolya Szabo, Andras Kemenes and James Kirby, who have all guided and supported my playing. They also reignited my calling to become a music educator, so that I could convey my love for music-making and build special relationships with my own students.
I have enjoyed following my students’ musical development and progression throughout the years. I value our communication through music-making. Teaching makes me a better person. It demands dedication, patience and devotion.
The most rewarding moments in my career in music education so far, have been helping my students achieve fantastic exam results. For example, last summer I was able to prepare a child to obtain his ABRSM Performance Grade 7 with Distinction. All our lessons and the exam itself had to be carried out online.
I would definitely encourage my students to pursue a career in music education, but they must feel that they can dedicate themselves fully to it.
If you are one of RBC’s alumni and would like to take part in this feature, contact Interim Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching) Luan Shaw, Head of Pedagogy Dr Adam Whittaker or Head of Learning and Participation Richard Shrewsbury.