Heather Hammond | Teacher, Composer and Author
Many of Heather’s pieces are included on the LCM Jazz Piano and Flute syllabuses. In an interview with Karen Marshall, she explains why jazz can play such an important role in instrumental teaching.
Heather is passionate about students having the opportunity to learn jazz and when you hear her story it becomes pretty clear why. She grew up in East Yorkshire and her mother was very keen for her two children to have the music education she herself had never received. At 8 years old Heather started piano lessons, but when she was 11 she gave up.
“I was bored playing only classical music and was given no opportunity to play any other type of music, so I just refused to attend lessons anymore.”
Luckily Heather started her local secondary school the same year and due to an excellent music service (then providing music lessons free of charge) she took up the clarinet.
“I do wonder if I had been born later, whether I would have had to take a different career path but having free lessons on the clarinet meant I was able to get back into music again.”
When she was 13 Heather asked her mother to get in touch with her old piano teacher to set up learning the piano again, with one condition, that the teacher would allow her to learn The Entertainer by Scott Joplin.
“There were no simplified versions then, so I simply spent hours learning the original version bar by bar. I loved it so much that I wanted to be able to play it and have the satisfaction of performing something that I felt was really impressive but was also music that I really identified with.”
After lots of work the music was then performed at a school concert. A few years later Heather passed her audition for the Leeds College of Music foundation course and then later went on to study the Jazz and Light Music course there. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I am really passionate about children having a wide range of music to perform, from jazz to pop, folk and popular classical. I think the LCM Jazz syllabus gives students the opportunity to experience not just how music works but also the opportunity to compose and improvise. There is a wealth of wonderful music on the syllabus which provides students with a welcome variety and helps them gain a wide understanding about elements like chord sequences, comping, scales and modes.”
Teachers can find Heather’s Music on the LCM Jazz Piano & woodwind syllabuses. The LCM Step 1 and Step 2 Jazz Piano syllabus also features pieces from Get Set! Piano Tutor: Book 1 and Get Set! Piano Pieces: Book 1, which Heather has co-authored with Karen Marshall. Heather currently has a large piano teaching practice in York. She has over 70 publications to her name.