"My musical studies began at the age of four. As a small child, I played the piano and recorder, then later the violin. At first my mother undertook to teach me the piano, even though she was unable to read a note of music, nor could she play the piano! Formal lessons began with a teacher in Bath, the city where I grew up, with my brother and I sharing the same lesson. Our teacher wisely kept a stash of comics on a chair in the corner for whoever’s turn it was to sit out! At seven, I started lessons on the violin and I had no notion at that stage of becoming a professional musician. At the age of ten, I had my first piano lesson with his wife, Hilary Coates, a remarkable pianist, and this proved to be a significant turning point in my life. I never realised lessons could be so exciting and I raced to try and copy my teacher’s beautiful phrasing and exciting way of playing.
At the Royal Academy of Music in London, lessons were altogether of a more daunting nature and, along with many of my contemporaries, I experienced the highs and lows of a competitive atmosphere and the expectations of a demanding teacher, Hamish Milne, whose insight and intellectual grasp on music was second to none.
After leaving the Academy, I had the good fortune through a mutual friend to meet a maverick Polish pianist living in West Hampstead who had studied with the legendary Neuhaus in Russia. Between hair-curling stories of his experiences behind the Iron Curtain and punctuated by strong cups of filter coffee, lessons with Andrzej Esterhazy could last hours. Discussions ranged widely and I had much to think about in every sense. My whole approach was being questioned but the understanding I gained informs the decisions I make both in my playing and my teaching to this day."