I’ve been Mary’s student for five years, firstly on UHI’s BA Applied Music, from which I graduated with distinction, and latterly as a Master of Music student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Before this, I was completely self taught.
In a way, I suppose that a self led route to the piano in the context of traditional music is far from uncommon- the adoption of the instrument in to the idiom has happened sporadically and individually over maybe the last twenty to thirty years- a second really, in the context of a wider that spans centuries.
She has done something unique through her teaching at RCS- developing an approach to bringing the piano and traditional music together that is absolutely rooted in the spirit, soul of the tradition, and current trad music scene, whilst also accounting for wider traditions of piano
music, always with sympathy and respect.
Through my own experience, I understand her approach to be informed by a unique set of knowledge and connections. All of these, and Mary herself, come together to create a philosophy based on the notion that everything is connected.
Her approach is far from prescriptive, it is intuitive, individual, and in many ways, self-directed. She draws from a huge range of materials when teaching- from across spectrums of music, art and wider thinking. I have complete trust that whatever she gives me will always prove itself to be relevant in some way.
My time as her student has had a huge impact, from musical points of view, but also in a wider way to do with approach, attitude, and really a great deal of learning how to think really- about piano, music, art, and areas much broader still.
She is hugely generous, in a way much beyond what one would ever ask or expect of a tutor, incredibly supportive and interested, and a brilliant role model. I take a great deal from her individuality, commitment to her interests and huge strength of character. To have had this time around such a high caliber of musician, thinker, and person, is something in which I feel incredibly privileged and for which I am extremely grateful.