Tom Hawkins is a professional tutor based in Sheffield teaching piano lessons and music theory.

How to reach me

Telephone: 07500 926 542

“I teach from my teaching studio based in central Sheffield close to bus and tram routes. Lessons conducted from a student's address can be arranged upon request."

Click here to email me!

What Can I Expect From Piano Lessons?

Classical

Learning to play classical piano provides a solid technique and a good understanding of 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!

Jazz & 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.

Pop

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.
What Do Current Students Have To Say

About Me

about meMusic has always been a driving presence in my house and life. 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!

 

COSTS

Please get in touch for pricing information. All lessons include a free half hour consultation lesson to consider the individual needs of each learner. I endeavour to find a way to work within most budgets. Gift vouchers are available upon request


Telephone: 07500 926 542 | Email me HERE

Students' Achievements

SoundCloud Album Record

Now Playing

Adele - The Holly & The Ivy
SoundCloud Album Record

Now Playing

Lisa - Allemande
SoundCloud Album Record

Now Playing

Adele - Night Patrol

Top 10 tips when learning the piano

  1. Make time for practise – Obvious as this may seem, alongside taking private lessons from a tutor, practise time is critical to your progression as a musician. A few hours a week is all it takes. Through practice and taking lessons, we can draw up an effective practise programme together making your time spent behind the piano as useful and effective as possible.

  2. Slow it down – As a tutor, I see many students practising their pieces at the speed that they intend to perform it at. This inevitably leads to frustration as mistakes are made more easily at faster tempos. By slowing practise down, especially when encountering a new piece, we give our brains time to process the instructions in front of us on the page. We become more likely to be able to play our music accurately and deliberately.

  3. Practise the performance, don’t perform the practise – Whether you are recording yourself for your ears only or getting ready to perform at Sheffield City Hall, we should only practise what we would intend an audience to hear. As a tutor I know better than most that mistakes will happen. That is perfectly fine. However, deliberately neglecting musical details sets us up for subpar performances. It is a tutor’s job to guide students to their best possible music making!

  4. Get inspired – I’m aware that I get into a rut of listening to the same music repeatedly. But listening to music is an immense resource for musicians, both for pleasure and for education/ To mix things up, try putting aside a couple of hours to watch professional concert pianists on YouTube. If you find yourself being drawn in, consider paying for a digital concert subscription. Ask friends (or your piano tutor!) for song recommendations, go to a local gig in Sheffield or check out some Pitchfork, Noisey or FACT online for album reviews and music news.  Why not push yourself and go for a genre you know nothing about? 

  5. Keep a diary – Consider keeping a log of everything you practise. Having a record detailing the quality and quantity of your daily practise helps to instil and maintain a well structured and effective practise routine. For example, keep track of tempo increases on technical exercises and your thoughts and reflections of how your pieces went. Over time, this helps us become constructively critical musicians. It can also be very rewarding to read the diary back to see how far you have come!

  6. Be a storyteller – When you’re practising a piece think about the narrative that it’s trying to tell, no matter how silly or fanciful it sounds. The beginning could be the sun rising over Sheffield before an intense and loud mid section where the city gets invaded by a dragon! It doesn’t matter what the story is, but inventing these narratives helps us to visualise a more vivid performance. In our piano lessons together we would spend time practising this.

  7. Use a metronome – A metronome is a time keeping device that sets the speed of a piece. As a tutor, I am keen on my students using this tool starting early on in their development. It is the only sure-fire way of knowing that our speed in a piece is consistent. It also is invaluable in assisting student’s rhythmic development and comprehension. Metronomes or “clicks” are used universally in recording studios also, so if studio work is something you’re interested in, get using a metronome early on!
  1. Remember why you’re learning the piano – It can sometimes be forgotten that piano lessons and practise should be enjoyable. Learning an instrument is challenging and this can sometimes detract from the joy of the learning process. If this happens, talk to your tutor. They should be able to recommend changes to your programme of learning that help you to reconnect with the original reasons you wanted to learn the piano.

  2. Record yourself and listen back – It doesn’t have to be an Abbey Road quality recording. Using the record function on your digital keyboard, or a smartphone recording, will suffice. Recording yourself lets you analyse your practise away from the piano and enables you to go through your performance with the score whilst not playing so you can think about where to improve. Recording yourself is also a gentle introduction to performance as the microphone acts as a dummy audience. 

  3. Feedback to your tutor - Always remember that it should be a two-way conversation between students and their piano tutors. If you enjoyed a particular element of a lesson, then let them know! If you struggled or really didn’t see the point to a certain aspect, then tell them. Your tutor will appreciate your feedback. Most importantly, if you feel you don’t understand something properly then please tell your tutor. I’m a strong believer that the learning process is enhanced through this on-going conversation between student and tutor. 

 

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

30-36 Burton Rd, Sheffield
S3 8BX

A one-stop shop for all your musical desires. Tucked away in Kelham Island, Yellow Arch is a venue playing more genres than I care to mention as well as putting on club nights. I’ve seen Sub-Saharan folk bands and avant-garde trip-hop acts all in the same night. To top it off, there is an excellent café and recording studios there should you ever need to use them!

For fans of… Friendly atmospheres and genre-bending music! 

1A, Sussex Rd, Sheffield
S4 7YQ

The standard of acts that Lo Shea’s Hopeworks showcases punches well above its weight. This warehouse venue puts on not just some of the finest electronic acts in the country but the world, with artists frequently flying in from the US and other destinations far and wide. Previous acts include pioneers such as KiNK, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Evian Christ and Ben UFO. 

For fans of… 4/4 beats, late nights and progressive sounds. 

University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN

Some may say I have a certain bias for this venue however its concerts team consistently creates innovative and inspiring programmes of cutting edge music. Its free lunchtime and rush hour concerts are great for those wanting to squeeze as much music into their days as possible and they’re a great opportunity to see the development of The University of Sheffield’s highly talented students. 

For fans of… Spending precious moments wisely and musical variety. 

 

55 Norfolk St, Sheffield
S1 1DA

Possibly Sheffield’s grandest venue (most definitely from the outside), the Lyceum puts on more popular musical theatre productions such as might be found on the West End. The standard of professionalism involved in The Lyceum’s productions is incredibly high and it’s hard not to feel classy being sat in its plush seats and grabbing a drink during the interval at its gleaming bar. 

For fans of… The West End and the finer things in life. 

6 Leadmill Rd, Sheffield
S1 4SE

A venue that needs little introduction really. Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, ABC and of course The Arctic Monkeys all cut their teeth playing this stage. Sheffield locals are proud of this medium-sized venue conveniently located within a two minute’s walk from the train station. Leadmill delivers on all fronts with good sound, great bands, reasonably priced tickets and it also puts on club nights if you fancy a dance after the gig! 

For fans of… Larger indie bands, bang for your buck and Sheffield heritage.

 

303 Sharrow Vale Rd, Sheffield
S11 8ZF

Every Wednesday this classy and authentic gastro pub opens its doors to the best acts on the UK jazz circuit as part of the Sheffield Jazz collective. Do not be fooled in to thinking the diminutive stature of The Lescar means that the standard of musicianship takes a hit, as recent Bluenote signees GoGo Penguin are among those who have played here as well as Robert Mitchell. 

For fans of… Jazz served alongside great food. 

23 Furnival Gate, Sheffield
S1 4QR

Previously The Rocking Chair, Café Totem puts on the best in local up and coming bands as well as ones from further afield in an intimate location. Run by industry professionals this venue definitely has music at the heart of what it does and this is reflected in the quality of the sound broadcast to the audience. 

For fans of… Local musicians who demand only the best in sound. 

79 Fitzwilliam St, Sheffield
S1 4JP

I have many happy memories watching emerging bands on the Washington’s tiny stage. If alternative rock and indie are your thing then the Washington’s standard of acts will leave you smiling and with close ties to local promoters English Rain you know you will always be listening to the freshest sounds coming out of Sheffield. 

For fans of… Homegrown talent and getting up close to the band.

Barker's Pool, Sheffield
S1 2JA

The only venue central to Sheffield that can house a full-sized orchestra, the City Hall sees The Hallé, BBC Phil and international touring orchestras as well as Sheffield Symphony Orchestra perform some of the greatest music ever written. This venue also puts on some of the best in modern pop music including Kate Rusby as well as some golden oldies.

For fans of… Beautiful interiors and the spectacle of performance. 

12 Exchange St, Sheffield
S2 5TS

Some of the best worst-known bands of the North and beyond clamour to the Clam to play to pocket-sized audiences in this central venue. Come here for anything that adheres to a punk aesthetic (whatever that may entail) and enjoy feeling like you’re now part of the family. 

For fans of… Hella, Eagulls and whatever lies between.

106 Harwood St, Sheffield
S2 4SE

Behind an unassuming back door down near Bramall Lane is a gateway to the outer reaches of the musical universe. A place of upcoming bands and artists specialising in the avant-garde and the indefinable, Audacious is a DIY space full of music that will make you question what you are listening to before realising you don’t care about the answer. Don’t forget your earplugs.

For fans of… Envelope-pushing sounds set against a laid-back atmosphere.

55 Norfolk St, Sheffield
S1 1DA

Much more than just snooker, The Crucible offers a varied programme of classical chamber music usually performed by their resident artists; Ensemble 360.  The Crucible’s “Music In The Round” series provides audiences with a rare, intimate insight in to classical performances as musicians can be viewed from all angles within the round. For those more interested in contemporary composers, The Ligeti Quartet are regulars.

For fans of… Classical music outside the realms of a concert hall.