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Since moving to Newark, Nottinghamshire in 2006, I have built a new teaching practice, teaching violin, viola and recorder in my own home. I currently have a number of individual students ranging from 7 to 70+ years of age and who normally travel from locations across the East Midlands.

Online Lessons
As Covid-19 restrictions are gradually lifted, it is lovely to be able to welcome more and more students back for ‘in-person’ lessons – I even have space to welcome one or two more…

However, lessons are continuing to be available online by video connections where this is more appropriate. This is most suitable for adult learners or those who may live some distance away. I haven’t met up with some of my students for over a year but, nevertheless, we have been making music and our next virtual concert will soon be available. Meanwhile, here is the latest offering from some of our ‘isolated’ violinists – we hope you enjoy it!

‘Boil ’em Cabbage Down’

Why would I want to learn an instrument?
Apart from a love of music, there are so many reasons for learning to play! Not only is it a lifelong skill – it is also a great way to meet people.  Also, research has shown that there are further benefits for practical musicians…

15 reasons why all children should learn music

How playing an instrument benefits your brain

Never too late!
I love teaching students of all ages – whether they are children taking their first steps in the world of music or adult late-starters! It’s never too late to start learning an instrument and it can open up a whole new world of enjoyment.  I encourage all my students to play in groups as soon as they can – a great way to make new friends.

Typically, adult learners might be those who wanted to play as a child but never got the chance.  Often they have recently retired and now have a bit more time to do what they want.  Maybe they played a little when they were at school and thought they had forgotten it all – it’s amazing how quickly it comes back to you!

What do I need?
Students will normally need to have their own instruments. If you are not sure which size of violin to buy for a child, we can discuss it at the first lesson. Children will have the opportunity to try out different sizes and to learn a few notes. Occasionally, it may be possible to borrow an instrument from me, if they are ‘between sizes’. Beginner recorder players are encouraged to buy a Yamaha plastic instrument for a reliable starting point.  
Where appropriate, we will also discuss a suitable tutor book. Don’t worry if you can’t read music yet – you will learn that along the way.


Hopefully, lessons will always be positive and encouraging. Over the years, I have come across most teaching and learning situations and hope to be able to deal with them with patience and good humour. In over 35 years of teaching, I’ve never bitten anyone…

You will be able to learn at your own pace. Music is meant to be enjoyable so a lesson should aim leave you in good spirits.  If things don’t quite go according to plan, that’s great!  It is by making mistakes that we learn to be resourceful.  

Regular practice is an important part of learning an instrument. Ideally, you will manage to play a little most days – even if only for a short time… This regular reinforcement of new skills will make it easier to progress, so try to get into good habits from the start. Younger students may need support and encouragement from their carers to keep up the momentum – especially when the initial novelty wears off!  Keeping your instrument where it is readily accessible can be a big help!

Many students like the challenge of working towards the graded examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music or Trinity College and have taken these with great success. Some also participate in local music festivals as additional performance opportunities. For others, the challenge is to reach a standard where they can play the music they love – or to join an ensemble where they can play with others. Whatever your goal, I will try to help you reach it!

Lessons and fees
Lessons are normally 30 or 45 minutes in length, although longer lessons can usually be arranged if required. All aspects of playing are covered – including music reading and aural development. Fees are currently £12 for 30 minutes, £17 for 45 minutes or £25 for an hour.

If you would like further information about violin, viola or recorder lessons, please contact Sheila Richards or call 01636 678500 for further details. You can also check out the latest news via the newsletter, Peebles Post, and check out my new Facebook Page.


  1. Pauline Dickinson permalink

    Very impressed with your music list, covers most needs.

  2. John permalink

    Interesting reading. So youv’e never bitten any body but, has anyone ever bitten you? I’m really looking forward to my first lesson at 13:30 today.


  3. Ina Dau permalink

    Hmmm, if one books 2 30 minutes lessons, one pays only 24 Pounds, whereas a whole hour is 25 Pounds. Maybe 4 15 minute lessons are even less, not to mention 8 lessons at 7.5 minutes each 🙂

  4. Jan Dixon permalink

    Do you teach saxaphone…your name came up when I googled sax teachers

  5. Carol foster permalink

    Hi sheila……really missing monday evenings in lincoln…….just was thinking about taking my grade 4 descent recorder next year could I perhaps have some online lessons I really need a kick up the bum……
    Many thanks

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