My name is Rosemary Burn and I am a pianist and teacher with over 25 years experience. Since leaving Trinity College I have attended piano master classes with Kenneth Van Barthold and Roger Green, among others, as well as courses at the Kodaly Institute and the European String Teachers Association. I have given a few solo public recitals, the most notable being two piano performances (with orchestra) of the Kodaly opera 'Hary Janos', at the Festival Hall on London's South Bank.
My music education has been unusual. I started learning the piano at the age of five, and progressed quickly through the ABRSM grades until I had passed my grade 8 exam when just turned twelve. After that I went to boarding school where there was no piano (I couldn't use any of the motley array of instruments provided) so sadly my playing declined and I turned to other sources of interest.
But in my late twenties I came back to my piano studies. I started lessons with a postgraduate student who encouraged me to enrol at Trinity College of Music, London, which I attended for a two year 'special course'. I studied with Kaoru Bingham.
It was after I left Trinity that I met an incredible teacher called Francis Reneau, a graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire who now composes for his native Belizean government. He showed me how to bring my playing to life, and also how to give my pupils the tools to unlock their expressive qualities. I practised for several hours a day and made huge strides during this period, achieving a Trinity licentiate performer's diploma with distinction in 1997 and then going on to take my FTCL (Fellowship level) two years later - well not quite because disaster struck...
I noticed fingers 4&5 of my right hand starting to curl under as I played. After some investigation a neurologist informed me that I had developed a condition called focal musicians' dystonia - a brain dysfunction at the highest level, brought on by over practice, which renders the hand 'disobedient'.
I was devastated, and the condition was now so advanced that I could not play with my right hand at all. I was told to forget the piano and choose another instrument.
This advice was not for me - I spent several years experimenting with various things strapped to my hand to change the movement patterns and I can now get round the piano repertoire almost as before, wearing a specially designed splint. The experience has taught me a certain amount of humility, but also the fact that any calamity need not be all consuming. I came out of it stronger, and more able to find solutions to other people's pianistic dilemmas and shortcomings. As you will see in my 'tips on practising help page' - no problem is insurmountable.