Conductors and tutors

Hugh Craig – conductor

Hugh was born in St Andrews, Scotland but has spent most of his life in England. His passion for the wind band/orchestra and its unique repertoire began in his teens as a trumpet player in the Staffordshire Youth Wind Orchestra. There he was introduced to the classic band works of Holst and Vaughan Williams and the new (then!) works from America.

Hugh studied trumpet with John Dickinson and conducting with Tim Reynish and Clark Rundell and was, for 10 years, a trumpet player and teacher in the North East of England where he also conducted the Sunderland Schools Windband and became active in the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles (BASBWE).

In 1988 he moved south to become a brass teacher for Surrey’s music service and was appointed conductor of SCYWO in 1993.

For his day job, Hugh is a Teaching & Learning Manager for Surrey Arts and in his spare time enjoys reading, listening to music/hifi and walking – no day being complete without the Fitbit 10k steps!

Bimbi Shaw-Cotterill – vocal coach

Bimbi Shaw-Cotterill (mezzo soprano) read music at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she specialised in vocal performance and was a choral scholar. She continued her studies with Eileen Price, before gaining a place on English National Opera’s course for Opera and Musical Theatre performance (“The Knack”) for which she was a Lilian Baylis Bursary recipient. Bimbi went on to obtain a Distinction Diploma in Concert Singing from the University of London under the tutelage of Hazel Wood. She is eternally grateful to have benefitted from the expert guidance of Sybil Michelow.

Bimbi regularly sings for a wide range of occasions, including wedding services, formal dinners and film premieres, working as a soloist and in small ensembles. Recent solo appearances include Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man as well as the core oratorio repertoire, including Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation.

Bimbi has also appeared as a soloist in several operettas, including Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore and HMS Pinafore and Britten’s Noyes Fludde, and as Edna in Jonathan Dove’s Opera Tobias and the Angel.

Alongside her singing career, Bimbi thoroughly enjoys passing on her passion for singing with a thriving teaching practice as well as working as a vocal animateur, vocal coach and conductor for children’s groups of all ages.

Sharon Harris – Piano

Sharon grew up learning the piano from the age of five, then also guitar, oboe and saxophone before taking a music degree at Southampton University. She had particular interests in composition and music recording. Her music career began in a London recording studio which produced music for television, films, music libraries and adverts.

Sharon then moved into instrumental teaching full time achieving the LRSM Teaching Diploma from The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Early on Sharon taught piano, oboe and saxophone, but for many years now she has concentrated on just the piano which she has been teaching for over twenty three years to pupils of all ages, including adults, and pupils with special needs and disabilities.

Sharon’s lessons are friendly and fun, so that pupils feel at ease and able to take part in a variety of musical activities such as improvisation, and rhythm and listening games to suit individual pupil’s needs and learning styles. As well as being enjoyable, piano playing improves physical co-ordination, language and listening skills, and it can be incredibly therapeutic. Music is a skill that can last a lifetime and Sharon am overwhelmed to be able to share it with others.

Alexandra Cassidy – Singing

Originally from Nottingham, Alexandra Cassidy trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the National Opera Studio and attended the Solti Accademia di Bel Canto with Leo Nucci.

With an operatic career including performances at Glyndebourne, Scottish Opera, English National Opera Grange Park Opera and many others, Alex has also performed with a wide range of ensembles, notably the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, The Hebrides Ensemble, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Paragon Ensemble.

Now that she is based in Guildford Alex is keen to expand her teaching and is leading both Singing Bugs and Singing Stars for Surrey Arts. She is experienced at leading group singing for children, having taught singing for several years, trained with the British Kodaly academy and worked at the Surrey Arts’ Singing Picnics in 2018. Alex has chosen to follow the Jolly Music Syllabus based on the principles of Hungarian teacher and composer, Kodaly because, in her experience, the children learn best when they are actively engaged, in play or group participation.

As the course progresses, they learn performance techniques such as interpreting and communicating the message of the song, and how to project whilst protecting their voices. As they grow the children can move on from Singing Bugs through other Surrey Arts vocal ensembles. Depending on their preferred genre, and in discussion with Alex, children can either progress to Singing Stars or the Surrey Youth Training Choir.

Peter Duncan – Guitar

GDJCM, LLCM(TD)

Pete first picked up a guitar at the tender age of 11. Initially learning contemporary tunes of the day by The Beatles, The Stones and Bowie, Pete’s inquisitive musical mind soon led him to explore Classical guitar and Jazz.

Despite forging a successful career in Accountancy throughout his 20’s, Pete’s musical aspirations were still very strong. This led to a bold decision to attend the prestigious ‘City of Leeds College of Music’ to study Jazz and Contemporary music.

After graduation in 1994, Pete moved to London to pursue a teaching and gigging career. By this time, he had already become a very experienced gigging musician and had also progressed to playing electric bass within several bands.

In 1998, Pete took to the high seas and played bass guitar wthin the house band on three different cruise ships. To supplement his Music Degree (GDJCM), in 2002 Pete studied for and passed the tricky ‘Electric Guitar Teaching Diploma’ (LLCM TD) via the London College of Music.

These further qualifcations enabled Pete to start teaching for various music centres/ schools and colleges throughout London and Surrey. In 2006 Pete founded the Jazz Funk band ‘Groove Digger’. He played guitar in this ensemble which proved to be the perfect vehicle in which to perform his own jazz funk, reggae, latin and groove compositions.

The band employed top class London musicians and performed at several famous venues including The Pizza Express Dean Street, The Hideaway Streatham, and The Spice of Life Soho and recorded three albums.

A prolific composer, Pete has now written over 120 songs. A lot of these are contained within his first three teaching books, to be published in late 2018; ‘Bad Guitar Good Guitar’, ‘Bad Guitar Good Guitar Repertoire (Foundation techniques for Classical Guitar) and ’50 Easy Tunes for Guitar’ ( Easy songs for the beginner/ Improver based on a call and response approach).

His self publishing company, ‘Bad Good Musical Techniques’ has been specifically set up in order to process a wide range of books covering core/ foundation techniques. Currently being written are ‘ Bad Sax Good Sax’ and ‘Bad Drums Good Drums’.

Student exams have become an important aspect of Pete’s teaching approach. He has a 100% pass rate for all students tutored through their various grades. Heavily influenced by Grant Green, Charlie Christian, Pete is a great believer in space and phrasing.

In 2014 more academic qualifications were obtained, namely grade 8 electric guitar (merit) and grade 8 electric bass (merit) via Rockschool.

Nowadays, he mainly gigs within duos and trios and also as a solo artist. He has a very innovative teaching style which moulds his ideas to each individual student. He always encourages them to list the songs and styles ‘they’ want to learn. Good technique is taught alongside the student’s choice of repertoire along with theory, harmony, composition, improvisation, ear training and arranging for solo guitar.

Pete is a very versatile, passionate teacher, always willing to go that extra mile for all of his students, young or old, beginner or experienced.