Caversham Piano

Testimonials from students

I took up learning the piano several years ago with Charlotte, having barely played for about six years. Before this I had spent about six cumulative years learning with other teachers but achieved far more in half this time with Charlotte. I passed grade eight with a high merit in November 2010. My lessons with Charlotte are fantastic. I think the best thing about her approach to teaching is that the lessons are tailored to what you want to achieve. Charlotte’s recommendations (such as choice of repertoire, exercises and performances) are always very well advised though never dictatorial. When I started lessons with Charlotte, we spent months correcting bad habits and poor technique which I had developed beforehand. Well within a year I was able to play pieces to a good standard which I had thought to be years out of my reach. Charlotte was able to diagnose and correct my flawed technique with extremely satisfying results. In addition to all of this, Charlotte is passionate about music. Her knowledge and expertise on the piano is impressive and rubs off on those she teaches, including me. Prospective students can have faith that she certainly knows her subject.


From my very first lesson with Charlotte I was totally engaged. She has this amazing knack of explaining things concisely and to the point. When I am struggling, she remains calm and patient always supportive and encouraging. She knows her students well and understands their capabilities from early on and she will go at whatever pace you choose but equally has a wonderfully way of inspiring you to keep going when it gets tough. I’m glad I persevered as I passed my grade 8 with distinction in November 2010 and am now working towards my performance diploma. I’ve also starting teaching young children the piano myself. It has helped me to manage my nerves doing the masterclasses – my first was the scariest thing I had done in a long time, but the environment is so supportive and you quickly realise everyone is in the same boat.



It has always been my ambition to play the piano, as a busy working Mum I wasn’t sure that I would be able to fit lessons into my life. However with Charlotte teaching me I have found a way of including a little ‘me’ time into my otherwise hectic life. I have one lesson a fortnight and practise as and when I can between times. Charlotte is always very patient and extremely encouraging. I feel under no pressure and am able to learn at my pace. If it is your dream to learn to play the piano I would thoroughly recommend Charlotte Hawkins as a teacher.


When I first met Charlotte I was already teaching piano but needed to pass Grade 8 Theory as a prerequisite to further teaching exams. I was very relieved when I eventually found a competent theory teacher as they are extremely hard to come by at this level. Charlotte set realistic goals for me spending more time on the weaker areas but without killing my confidence. She also treated me as an adult which was something I found lacking in previous teachers. Passing grade 8 theory was marathon for me which I never would have managed without Charlotte’s encouragement and the huge amount of knowledge she passed on to me of chord analysis, Baroque music and many other subjects. She is an academic who still manages to stay amazingly down to earth to teach people of all levels.


I was very fortunate to discover Charlotte a few years ago for piano lessons which provided me with the ideal opportunity to pursue music again. I had previously played the violin and took several Associated Board exams but regrettably had to stop due to arthritis problems. Many years later I decided to try the piano as it would be more comfortable for me to play than the violin. I have found Charlotte to be an excellent teacher as she is not only a very well trained and accomplished musician but also very flexible in her approach to students according to their individual goals. In my case I am keen to play and progress as much as possible but without taking exams or doing public performances. With Charlotte’s expertise I have made good progress and enjoy playing a variety of music mainly from Baroque, Classical and Jazz. I really enjoy and look forward to the weekly lessons.


I had piano lessons for several years as a child and hated them. My previous teacher focussed completely on exams and shouted at you for not practising between lessons or trying hard enough – I thought it had put me off playing piano for life. As soon as I was old enough I refused to go to lessons and never touched a piano again for nearly 20 years. Out of the blue my husband bought me a gift voucher for a trial lesson with Charlotte. I have to admit I was not sold on the idea and it took a while to phone to make the appointment.  My trial lesson went amazing well. Charlotte was very reassuring – she taught in a completely different way, calmly and encouraging.  I spoke about what I wanted to achieve with these lessons, I didn’t want to do scales or exams, I just wanted to be a reasonable pianist and that was fine. There are some weeks where I have just not found the time to practice and that’s ok, Charlotte has taught me to accept that it sometimes happens and is not a major disaster. I look upon my piano lessons as something I enjoy doing for myself.


What attracted me to taking lessons with Charlotte was the Masterclasses. They are so beneficial. It’s a little nerve racking at first, but the best thing is you’re all students and so all in the same boat and very supportive of each other. Having another mentor at the Masterclasses gives you such good feedback on your playing and focuses more on your technique than hitting the right notes, which is especially beneficial if you are taking exams. At the same time, Charlotte appreciates that Masterclasses aren’t for everyone. It’s up to you how involved you get. I really enjoy my lessons with Charlotte, she’s very laid back with her approach but it’s obvious her knowledge and ability are very professional and technical. She appreciates that, as an adult student, you sometimes have other pulls and she likes to understand what it is you want from your playing. Charlotte likes you to enjoy the music you’re learning, if it’s a piece you’re not interested in, you just won’t put the effort in and it won’t be enjoyable for you.


I took up lessons as I’d wanted to have piano lessons since a young child but my family thought it was a phase I would grow out of – they were wrong! Now I’m planning to go to university next year to study music. I’d taught myself a few of the basics, but Charlotte gives me different ideas of how to practise and get what I’m aiming for. Also, she writes notes as I play so that I don’t forget what she has said once I leave. Charlotte is often very inspirational and allows a student to focus on the goals they want to achieve, giving the best advice suited to their circumstances. I like the friendly atmosphere of my lessons, and the events such as master-classes, her own piano concerts and small student concerts are incredibly beneficial as well as a nice way to interact with other people in a similar place to yourself.


I started taking piano lessons with Charlotte in order to study towards exams, and with the aim to eventually teach. I also wanted to learn particular pieces of music that I liked. Charlotte quickly attuned to the speed at which I learn and my overall capabilities, and knows when to move quickly through something, but is patient and meticulous when I find something more challenging. Learning a piece with Charlotte is an ongoing collaborative effort, with emphasis on technique and the interpretative possibilities of the music, as a result I feel that I am learning the piano artistically rather than just mechanically. Charlotte also allows me a degree of autonomy over the particular pieces that I learn, which helps me remain engaged, enthusiastic, and feeling involved in what I am studying. I find the master classes and recitals that Charlotte organizes extremely beneficial, preparing me for public performance in a relaxed, friendly and informal atmosphere. They also provide me with invaluable constructive criticism and feedback that has greatly helped me develop my playing.


My life leaves me little time for anything outside work and family commitments. I do however enjoy playing the piano whenever I can and have been playing for over twenty years now. Charlotte does understand that exams and academic achievement are not everyone’s’ objectives and works with me at the pace I can go. My lessons are enjoyable and the Master Classes take me outside of my comfort zone for a short time. Charlotte has become a friend as well as teacher – I can’t imagine life without my fortnightly lessons!


I’d wanted to start piano lessons for a long time and so was really glad to find Charlotte, who is happy to take on adult beginners! Her teaching has been so encouraging from the first lesson. Lessons are really relaxed and friendly, and while I can’t always practice as much as I’d like to, the lessons pick up from wherever I’ve got to and just go from there. The Masterclasses are excellent and give you something to work towards without all the other studying you’d have to do for an exam and give constructive feedback that you can put into practice right away. When I first started I just wanted to pass Grade 1, which Charlotte’s lessons helped me do much quicker than I thought I could and I’m now continuing to learn just for fun and am really glad to be able to learn from Charlotte’s great skill and experience!