Get inspired to learn the piano by visiting these great Sheffield venues!

Tom Hawkins Music | Tel: 07500 926 542

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  1. A teacher who treats you as an individual and supports your progress no matter what – It’s a cliché, but everybody learns in a different way and makes different rates of progress. Learning the piano is a difficult but enjoyable process and your teacher should be there every step of the way providing you with appropriate learning material and answering any questions or concerns you may have. Over my 16 years of playing piano I have amassed a large catalogue of pieces and exercises from which I can draw on to help you progress as far as you want to go. 
  2. Lessons in a comfortable environment on a quality instrument – From my teaching studio I conduct lessons on a Yamaha Vienna acoustic piano which is regularly tuned and maintained to the highest standard. There is also a Kawai stage piano with weighted keys should students prefer and also on which I can play through examples of music without the student having to move away from the piano – this helps the flow of lessons. If students should want, I can record sections of audio from lessons for reference outside of lesson later. I have found that many students like this so that they can revise material covered in lesson and make notes. 
  3. Advice on what instrument to buy or rent – Having close contacts in the music retail industry means that I have played many different acoustic and digital pianos over the years. When offering advice on purchasing a piano, I always consider the budget and needs of the player and give a balanced view. We always find an instrument that the student can practise on no matter the price range whether it’s something to get you going or a long term investment in your musical growth. 
  4. An obligation to practise – Sadly, nobody gets good at doing anything once a week. People sometimes ask me “how long will it be until I can play this piece?” and my answer is always “It depends how much you practise!” The good news is that it isn’t just about putting hours and hours of practise in on the piano but instead making sure that the time you do put in is effective as possible. A good teacher will be able to structure an effective practise routine that works around your lifestyle whilst still allowing you to make the progress you want to make. If no practise is done though, then very little or no progress will be made on the instrument. A lesson does not count as practise; it is there to introduce you to new ideas and check on your progress. The real leg-work comes from the student. 
  5. A reliable teacher – This should go without saying but a good teacher will always be punctual and offer frequent lessons to ensure that you always have an expert eye on your progress. 
  6. Support outside of lessons – I am always reachable by email, text or Facebook via my business page (@tomhawkinsmusic) for any questions regarding piano or music in general. Now there is no excuse for getting stuck in your practise – just send me a message and I’ll get that question answered before your next lesson!
  7. A greater understanding and appreciation of music – After a while of playing piano you may find your ear attaching itself to the piano or keyboard parts of a song. You may slowly start finding yourself realising news things about songs you’ve always listened to and being able to analyse music in more nuanced ways than before you played an instrument. Lessons with me always involve at least some music theory and ear training which will let you listen to music in new and exciting ways. 
  8. Opportunities to perform – Your piano teacher should provide opportunities to perform whether they are running those events themselves or pointing you in the direction of third party performances. If the idea of performing on a stage in front of strangers terrifies you – don’t worry, that’s a normal response. A “performance” can be something as simple as playing a piece to a parent, small group of friends or at family gathering. Through gradual exposure and advice on performance technique from your teacher, playing in front of an audience will become a lot less scary. 
  9. Improvements in confidence – Improved ability behind the piano leads to a real sense of achievement, which has been proven to increase our sense of self worth. It should also be said that, if the performance or exam route is chosen, other things such as GCSE exams or job interviews become a lot less scary. Once you have proven to yourself that you can play in front of other people it really shows you you can do anything! 
  10. Time for yourself – Many of my students comment that the time they take to practise during the day is often the best part of their day. Practising an instrument gives you a chance to reach a flowing mental state and shut the rest of the world out whilst working on your personal development. The same happens in lesson as well; the rest of the world gets shut out as student and teacher dive in to the vast world of playing whilst having fun together! It’s true that I enjoy great rapport with my students whilst also having the opportunity to watch them grow musically week upon week.

Cancellation policy

If a student cancels a lesson with less than 48 hours notice (measured from the start of the lesson) students are liable to pay half the total cost of the lesson. If a student cancels a lesson with less than 24 hours notice (again measured from the start of the lesson) then the student is liable to pay the whole cost of the lesson. However, if a lesson is cancelled because of unavoidable/unforseeable circumstances (illness, weather or travel issues for example) then Tom can waive the cancellation fee at my discretion. 

Tom has the right to cancel lessons but at no cost to the student. 

Refund policy

In the event of a request for money back due to a decision to stop attending pre-paid lessons, half the money shall be paid back to the student. (e.g. a student has paid £100 for a block of 4 one hour lessons but has only attended two of those lessons can expect to receive £25 as refund).

notesHaving an understanding of how music works is crucial to becoming a well- rounded piano player and “bulletproof” musician. Music theory also provides you with tools that can help you write your own music. The study of music theory is a fascinating one that, as a teacher, I love to talk about with my students as it can really help to demystify music making and lead to a greater appreciation the piano and music in general.

The piano is the perfect instrument on which to learn theory because, once we become familiar with the keyboard, there is a regular visual pattern of notes laid out in front of us that we can use to illustrate theoretical ideas. In fact, playing the piano is so closely related to music theory that it is impossible to learn the piano properly without also learning theory.

I teach music theory in a variety of ways depending on the needs and preferences of each individual student:

  • Theory-only lessons in accordance with the ABRSM Music Theory syllabus (Grades 1-5)

  • Listening to pieces of music and analysing what is musically going on in them.

  • Improvising and composing pieces on the piano often involving duets between teacher and student.

  • Learning pieces of written music, including from fake sheets, and analysing the theoretical ideas in them as we go.

  • The theory bootcamp (see below)

In these lessons, emphasis is always placed on how to put these theoretical ideas to work in practise. Some students have the preconception that music theory is boring or dull but I have found that this is only the case if music theory is taught as a paper exercise and the link is not made to the piano.

Theory Bootcamp

The theory bootcamp is a consecutive five-day course of lessons tailored to the unique requirements of each individual student and designed to cover all areas of music theory.

I have had great success in the past with children over the school holidays on the bootcamp as the camps can be designed to be as fun and functional as possible. However, the course is also great for adults looking for a fast-track introduction to the nuts and bolts of music or looking to deepen their knowledge.

Each bootcamp session is 1-2 hours long and includes a small task to work on at home after each session to reinforce what has been learned during that day’s lesson.

Topics covered on the bootcamp vary a lot depending on the interests and musical background of each student but usually include:

  • Notation – Notes on the stave treble and bass clef, recognising common chord shapes, ornaments, signs.

  • Rhythm – Rhythmic values, dots, ties, simple, compound and odd time signatures, counting, rests, accent patterns, polyrhythms, metric modulation, triplets, swing.

  • Harmony – Intervals by ear and on the page, major and minor, chord recognition by ear and on the page, scale theory, chords of the scale, key signatures, triads, extended and altered chords, modes, pentatonic scale, blues, common chord sequences, melody, bass harmony, inversions.

  • Implementation – Improvisation and composition on ideas covered, technical exercises, studies, pieces that emphasise ideas covered, instrumentation.

Please note that due to the unique, tailored aspect of each course, at least 2 weeks notice is required before the start of any bootcamp.

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Cancellation policy

If a student cancels a lesson with less than 48 hours notice (measured from the start of the lesson) students are liable to pay half the total cost of the lesson. If a student cancels a lesson with less than 24 hours notice (again measured from the start of the lesson) then the student is liable to pay the whole cost of the lesson. However, if a lesson is cancelled because of unavoidable/unforseeable circumstances (illness, weather or travel issues for example) then Tom can waive the cancellation fee at my discretion. 

Tom has the right to cancel lessons but at no cost to the student. 

Refund policy

In the event of a request for money back due to a decision to stop attending pre-paid lessons, half the money shall be paid back to the student. (e.g. a student has paid £100 for a block of 4 one hour lessons but has only attended two of those lessons can expect to receive £25 as refund).

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Music has always been a driving presence in my house and life.

about me

I grew up listening to my Mum (a piano tuner) practicing Bach and Debussy and my Dad was always playing music and taking me to concerts. Surrounded and inspired, at 7 I started music lessons myself under the tuition of a local piano teacher.

Between the ages of 7 and 10 I remember piano practise being a real challenge. It became one that I truly enjoyed and as I progressed musically, I began to understand the fun side to it all. Soon practice became the first thing I did when I came home from school.

By the age of 12 I’d achieved my ABRSM Grade 5 and taken up drum kit, receiving lessons from a local session musician in Halifax. It was also around this age that I started exploring new genres. I discovered bands like Led Zeppelin and Steely Dan, and also started dipping my toes into the realms of classical music and jazz. Hearing Miles Davis’ ‘Kind Of Blue’ was a huge inspiration to me, and a turning point in my musical taste.

I started experimenting with playing pop songs from chord sheets I’d print off online, and also improvising my own compositions using knowledge of harmony and melody. High school was a great period for my musical development as I took a weekend course at Leeds College of Music for two years, progressed through my grades with ABRSM on piano and Rock School on drums, performed in school productions both solo and with other musicians, gigged regularly with a brass band and achieved an A* in GCSE music.

Whilst doing my A Levels at Greenhead College I was lucky enough to meet and play with many great musicians both my own age and older. A highlight for me was playing drums for Damo Suzuki who cut his teeth with the pioneering krautrock band Can. Between the ages of 16-18 my taste in music broadened to the extent that genre was irrelevant and I was performing more and more regularly alongside my studies. This included a band tour to Paris, Eastern Germany and solo piano performances for my college. It was also during this period that I started studying jazz theory and technique both in my private lessons and through self-directed study. Bands such Snarky Puppy and artists such as Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarrett informed and inspired this music making!

Studying music at the University of Sheffield again presented me with the opportunity to meet and share knowledge with many fantastic musicians who I now call my friends. Highlights of my student life included performances at Oxford University and Sheffield Cathedral. Receiving tuition from Valentina Kalashnik allowed for an eye opening experience that led to a completely different perspective on my technique and approach to learning pieces. My final year dissertation gave me the opportunity to look further in to the question of “Why do we like the music we like?” This ethnographic piece of work was highly commended by academic staff.

Most importantly, studying in Sheffield was a catalyst for my career in music education. I had always dreamed of teaching, so when an opportunity arose during my sophomore year I leapt for it. Since then I haven’t really looked back! Teaching piano is one of the biggest pleasures I have in life. I have the privilege of working with some of the kindest, friendliest and funniest people I’ve ever met. I delight in watching the progress of each and every student especially when they start to see their hard work paying off. Even when progress is slow, I enjoy the challenge of finding different avenues and exploring concepts with my students so that they can move forward with their playing. Just as I did, I want you to discover what makes playing the piano fun for you!

Playing an instrument is the best thing I’ve done with my life. Not only do I believe that music-making has inherent worth but various studies and real-world situations have shown that musicians benefit from increased confidence, communication skills and improved cognition and coordination. I firmly believe it is a myth that some people are musically “gifted” whilst others aren’t. Everyone has musical ability. Sometimes it merely takes the right teacher to encourage it to grow!


Get inspired to learn the piano by visiting these great Sheffield venues!


Learning to play classical piano provides a solid technique and a good understanding of the elements of music that can be transferred to any genre. I think learning how to play classical piano is really interesting as it enables us to play music that was first heard hundreds and hundreds of years ago whilst thinking of ways to keep it sounding fresh and exciting! 

For those who want to, I can teach to the ABRSM exam board specification, which provides training in classical performance, technique, aural skills and sight-reading. However, I also supplement the ABRSM syllabus with pieces that each individual learner may want to learn, the “A Dozen A Day” books as well as other technical exercises such as Hanon and Czerny.

For younger learners I find using the “Piano Time” and John W. Schaum books among others in practise time provides a strong introduction to playing the piano. Playing musical games both in lesson and at home further strengthens this foundation.

Jazz and Blues

Jazz as a genre is a broad church that comes with its own technique and approach to harmony, quite different to classical. Learners are introduced to jazz from a theoretical perspective learning how to “build” chords and how these relate to the Circle of Fifths. 

Once a foundation in theory has been established we can start looking at jazz lead sheets and how to interpret them. This could include playing in a Fats Waller “stride” style or imitating the trio work of Keith Jarrett. One of the great things about jazz is the element of improvisation where there are no real right or wrong answers. Because of this, jazz lessons would feature a strong element of ear training that can be really fun! 

The blues is similar to jazz in as much as there is often a strong element of improvisation in the right hand with patterns to be repeated or used as a framework in the left hand. To play the blues well requires the ability to think in terms of phrases (musical sentences) and to have a feel for how to expand upon these phrases. This is something that can be learned in a very organic way. 

Younger learners tend to really enjoy learning jazz and particularly the blues as it can be a little quicker to learn the music once some simple fundamentals have been covered. Indeed, with the blues, once the minor blues scale (C-Eb-F-Gb-G-Bb-C) has been learned along with a simple left hand pattern, it is easy to start soloing and jamming with other musicians!


Whether you want to accompany yourself, another singer, be a member of a band or play the melody and accompaniment all on the piano; learning how to play in a pop style can be great fun.  It is also a fantastic way of improving our ears and general musicianship. 

Learning to play and transcribe music by ear are two key skills for a pop musician to have. By working together we can figure out how to play pop songs together at increasing levels of difficulty. We would start off first of all with the melody then look at the chords and bass line. Once you’ve learned some of these techniques you will be able to apply them to other songs meaning that many songs can be learned in a shorter period of time. 

We will also learn about how to put songs in to different styles of music. Ever heard Radiohead’s “Creep” played in the style of Stevie Wonder? You could be the first to give it a try!