ANNIE TSANG, October 2011
Graham is a truly inspirational teacher. My 9 year-old
daughter always feels happy and energised after her piano
lessons – she couldn’t wait to try out Graham’s
suggestions for practice! With Graham, it is never simply ‘practice
more’; it is always about how to practice effectively.
Readers of Graham’s blog www.practisingthepiano.com would
know of his amazing ‘toolkit’; during lessons,
he is like a magician who has a solution for everything.
Concepts are explained with clarity, focus and ingenuity.
He once highlighted a Prokofiev score with different colours,
as a reminder of dynamics. My child ‘annotates’ Bach
with happy and sad faces; Moszkowski with a slug and a
butterfly – a secret code of how to play the music!
I marvel at how Graham teaches with so much creativity.
Although Graham has many accomplished students, some of
whom are concert pianists and teachers themselves, he is
delighted by every small step my child takes. During this
year, he has encouraged her to audition for the primary
department of The Royal Academy of Music, participate in
a music festival and learn some challenging pieces. All
these are accomplished with so much fun and enjoyment under
Graham teaches not only the piano, he teaches music. Listening
to Graham play in concert or during lessons is an invaluable
source of musical aspirations. He once advised my daughter
that before a performance, she could think about what a
privilege it was to bring great music to her audience.
Every time I see Graham teach, I also sense his passion
for bringing great music to his students.
BRADLEY BURGESS, February 28, 2011
“I studied piano under Graham Fitch at the University
of Cape Town from 2005 - 2008. During that time, I was
continually and repeatedly impressed by his all-encompassing,
highly individual and immensely thorough approach to
teaching. Time after time I left the lessons feeling
enlightened, motivated and inspired. His understanding
of piano technique and music is vast. Further, Mr Fitch
is not a "paste-on" teacher who makes you play
every note exactly as he does; he equips his students
tools - tools that they can take with them throughout
their lives and apply over and over again. Long after
I have left his studio, I still find myself thinking "What
would Graham say?" An answer always inevitably comes
to mind. Mr Fitch has by far been the most influential
person in my musical and pianistic development to date,
and is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable teachers
and musicians I have ever had the joy of meeting.” February
Graham Fitch was my extraordinary and wonderful teacher at
the University of Cape Town from 1999 until 2001, when I
left to further my studies in New York. Graham is one of
the main reasons that I am where I now am, and he has helped
me musically, personally, professionally and practically
in ways that go so far beyond the call of any teacher, that
he is one of the great influences of my life.
I went to study with him as a final-year student, hoping
that he would be able to help me overcome my technical
difficulties. Under his extremely detailed and practical
guidance, I overcame problem after problem, many of which
I believed could not be fixed. His approach is based on
years of thinking, research and evaluation, and he is constantly
adding to this.
His teaching is absolutely practical in the best sense
of the word: he identifies instantly any problem, offers
concrete solutions, and a process of working that can eliminate
the problem in any context. He always offers a myriad of
interesting musical ideas, and without forcing students
to play his way, will coax from them solutions that work
the best for them. I have also learnt much from him as
a performer, and I still have the sound of his Goldberg
variations and Bach partita in my ears year later. My own
teaching attempts to utilize many aspects of his approach.
On paper, one cannot get a full sense of Graham Fitch
as a teacher. He helped me to develop immensely as a person
and a musician, offering constant support and encouragement
years after I ceased to be his student. If not for him,
I would not have come to New York. He is dedicated in the
extreme, and is a most remarkable musician and incredible
teacher. I was fortunate in the extreme to have him as
Performances: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space
etc. Concertos: Cape Philharmonic, CAPAB, UCT Orchestras.
Adjunct Faculty: Manhattan School of Music, NY.
I studied with Graham Fitch for 10 months at the University
of Cape Town in 2000. In every lesson, I learned so much
from him! His direction was very detailed and resourceful.
He opened my eyes to the wonderful possibilities of playing
Bach and gave me a lot of ways of teaching students.
My memories of my studies in Cape town are the treasures
of my heart. Mr. Fitch is a great teacher and a respectable
BA Royal Northern College of Music UK,First Class B(Mus)Hons
in Piano Pedagogy
under the international scholarship UCT,1st prize in Bach
prize in UCT,
Graduate performance degree Peabody Conservatory of John's
Hopkins University USA
Studied with Graham Fitch,Julian Martin and Gwendolyn
Master classes with Robert MacDonald, Peter Feauchtwanger,
Bernard Roberts, Alicja Fiderkiewicz and others.
Performed in UK,USA,South Africa and Japan
Now teaching music in Yokohama International Christian
Academy and piano
privately in Japan.
DR THOMAS HECHT
Graham is one of those pianists whose colours
and sensitivity really inspire. I've always been drawn to
his sound world and will never forget his Bach playing in
particular. I'm so glad to have known him since our student
days at Peabody. We keep meeting up at various points across
the globe and we always connect well. That means a lot to
me. And we all know, of course, there is not a pianist alive
with a better sense of humour.
Dr. Thomas Hecht
Head of Piano Studies
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music
National University of Singapore
3 Estate Office Drive
Republic of Singapore 117485
PH: +65 6516 1466 FX: +65 6777 8426
I have had a few lessons with Graham over
the years, when my own teacher has sent me to him in order
to get a different viewpoint of the music and to take it
to a new level, usually when I have been preparing for an
Graham is a wonderful teacher, in the true sense of
the word. His teaching inspires, while also addressing
all the necessary aspects of playing a piece of music.
Technical difficulties have efficient practical solutions,
usually melting away, even with my middle-aged fingers!
Aspects of analysis are brought forth to illuminate one’s
work, and his encyclopaedic knowledge is always there,
in a most accessible way, to educate and stimulate. He
uses imagery in his teaching most effectively.
He’s friendly and approachable, interested and
unthreatening, taking the teaching of music to heights
I’ve not encountered before in my fifty-three years
of playing the piano. I’ve always left my lessons
with him with an ineradicable smile on my face. There
was never an unhappy lesson.
Trinity Guildhall Performer’s Certificate
After a masterclass with Mr. Graham Fitch
I knew at once that I had to take further lessons from
him. His methods were a revelation to me, not only in terms
technical execution but also in terms of musical interpretation.
Now I am able to pass the benefits of his progressive approach
on to my own students. My only regret is that Mr Fitch
did not arrive in South Africa sooner.
Copyright Manager at Universal Music Publishing and part
time piano teacher, composer and arranger.
Graham Fitch is an extraordinary musician.
As a performer
he can extract every stylistic element from the works
he plays. I first heard Graham when he
performed Bach's Goldberg Variations at the Australasian
Piano Pedagogy Conference in the mid 1990s and was
mesmerised from start to finish by the tone and touch.
heightened next day when in a lecture about this work
he related how he had studied every variation in depth
and could play each one in every key on the piano,
and proceeded to demonstrate this extraordinary feat.
His Masterclasses and lessons were a rare treat not
only for his vast knowledge of repertoire but his keenness
to share it all.
Graham's rapport with people, whether teachers or students
is second to none as he has an enthusiasm that is infectious
and inspiring which is coupled with a wonderful sense
I have since met Graham at a number of conferences and
gone away from his sessions with renewed enthusiasm and
I had the opportunity of inviting him to Melbourne two
years ago to be the main lecturer for the Victorian Music
Teachers' Association Summer Conference which is held
in late January every 2 years. His lectures on various
topics were all given with knowledge, illustrations,
humour and much wisdom and were easily understood by
experienced teachers as well as those new to the profession.
Graham gave Masterclasses for all ages and levels and
these were a real joy as every student came away knowing
about at least one aspect that could be worked on and
I would have no hesitation in recommending Graham for
any teaching position, or as a guest lecturer / teacher
Nehama Patkin OAM, M.Mus
Nehama Patkin is one of Australia's most versatile musicians.
Her work spans the field of solo piano recitals, singing,
accompanying, teaching, competing, adjudicating, producing
and directing concerts. Her reputation as an inspiring
teacher of both the Suzuki and traditional methods are
highly recognized throughout Australia and overseas.
As a music educator Nehama works with both children and
teachers. This has led to many invitations which have
taken her to USA, Canada, UK, Iceland, Sweden, Finland,
Korea, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile,
Peru, Spain, Brazil and France . She has had a regular
teaching engagement each June for the past 12 years in
Colorado . Nehama has been a guest speaker at the National
Piano and Keyboard Conference in Chicago .
TESTIMONY TO GRAHAM FITCH
I must say that I have been extremely lucky to have
met Graham, whom has been such a tremendous mentor and
friend. Not only was Graham responsible for my development
as a musician and pianist, he has also developed my love
for music and inspired me to teach music. Like all great
teachers, there is no rigid ‘methodology’ in
Graham’s approach to teaching. Instead, he sees
all his students as individuals. Armed with an encyclopedic
breadth of pianistic knowledge, Graham seems to have
an answer to every pianistic problem that a student faces.
I often say that one of the hallmarks of a great teacher
is that no two students of his play the piano the same
way, and having studied with Graham for over ten years
I have yet to encounter two pianists from Graham’s
studio class that shared the same interpretation of a
piece of music.
Michael enrolled at London’s prestigious Centre
for Young Musician (CYM) at the age of sixteen where
he studied piano with Graham Fitch – a teacher
whom he cites as ‘not only a tremendous mentor
and friend’. In 1999. Michael made his concerto
debut playing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto
in B flat minor in the Guildford International Music
Festival, and again at the Penang Governor’s birthday
celebration gala concert. Michael received a scholarship
from the University of Cape Town to further his studies
with Fitch in 2001. He has also worked with numerous
eminent pianists and professors, such as Nina Svetlanova,
James Gibb, Phillip Fowke, Renna Kellaway, Florian Uhlig,
Gordon Fergus Thompson and Niel Immelman.
Graham Fitch is one of the finest teachers
I have had the privilege of working with, and I studied with
him over a period of 3 years. My one regret is that I didn't
approach him sooner for tuition. Over the years I had developed
terrible tension in my arms, hands etc. and Graham was able,
effortlessly and without hesitation, to identify and solve
those technical problems.
With Graham's help I do believe that my playing moved forward
to a different, and better level; the interpretive suggestions
he gave always made a huge amount of sense and opened a
new and different way of musical thinking.
It was absolutely wonderful working with him and I cannot
recommend him highly enough as a teacher, coach, mentor
etc. Whoever is taught by Graham can regard him/herself
as indeed extremely lucky and priveleged.
M.Mus, B.Ed, Teacher's Licenciate Dip (UCT), Performer's
Dip in Music (UCT)
Pianist, Performed various concerti with CTSO as well CT
Philhamonic, One-time lecturer in music and piano, Choral
Conductor (CT and Denver, Colorado), Producer of a series
of school music education books and tapes, Producer of
a large series of music for children.
IAN HAMILTON - 2 November 2008 - Notes
on piano lessons with Graham Fitch
Graham Fitch was my piano teacher for several years
in the late 1990s
and it was a successful and enjoyable experience – we
remain very good friends though geographically separate
for the last few years. I had played the piano as a child
and for about five years before meeting Graham I had
played regularly and passed Grade 5 and Grade 6 examinations.
Graham is of course a very fine pianist and though I
have heard many of the world's finest pianists, his playing
of Bach's Goldberg Variations remains one of the finest
performances I ever heard. As a pupil I had the full
benefit of his superb technique and deep musical knowledge.
As well as being taught to play, Graham explained the
music and did much to deepen my knowledge and love of
piano music. At the age of 72 I am still playing many
of these pieces.
For the last 30 years of my working life I was a lecturer
and then an international consultant in the field of
vocational education. I give it as my professional opinion
that Graham is a superb teacher capable of teaching to
the highest level and also working sensitively with enthusiastic
amateurs like me – he also taught my daughter and
is extremely sensitive to young pianists.
Ian Hamilton, London
I learnt an infinite amount from Graham whilst studying
with him at The Purcell School 1994-1996. Graham taught
me to how to practise, and took my playing to a much
higher level than I even expected. We explored gems of
the Piano repertoire including Ravel’s Gaspard
de la nuit, Bach’s French Suites and Schumann’s
Etudes Symphoniques. Graham encouraged my awareness of
sound, texture, musical shapes, movement and technique.
Graham set an example to his pupils through his professionalism,
thoughtfulness, punctuality and commitment. Graham strived
to make pupils feel at ease during lessons, often asking
about ‘real life’ as well as piano practice.
Graham gave me all the skills I needed to walk onto the
concert and competition platform with confidence.
has performed at St. James’ Piccadilly,
St. Martin-in the-field’s, Buckingham Palace, Ribble
Valley International Piano Festival, Rolston Hall (Canada),
Martinu Hall (Czech Republic), U.K. Music clubs (including
Halifax and Oxted) and the Universities of Sheffield,
York, Lancaster, Cambridge and Oxford. Gemma has performed
Concerti by Chopin, Shostakovich, Schumann, Ravel and
Franck in the U.K. under Darrell Davison, David Blake
and Martyn Brabbins (Lancaster International Series).
Competition prizes include 1st prize in the National
Toshiba Chamber music Awards, 1st prize in the National
Derby Piano concerto competition and 1st prize in RNCM’s
Concerto competition. Gemma’s chamber music experience
includes collaborations with Daniel Bates (Gold Medal,
Royal over-seas league competition) and Marie Macleod
(Strings section prize winner, BBC Young Musicians).
She has attended the Banff Centre (as a resident-Artist)
and the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia
Although I was aware of Graham Fitch’s standing
as a pianist and music educator, particularly in the
U.K. and later in South Africa, it was not until July
this year at the Australian National Pedagogy Conference
in Perth that I heard him as a recitalist and lecturer.
In both capacities I was exceedingly impressed.
international guest lecturer and performer, Graham
Fitch played an impeccable recital consisting of the
Variations of Bach: one of the most demanding feats
of the keyboard repertoire. Likewise his lecturing was
erudite and absorbing. An additional very pleasing
aspect was his total involvement with the whole conference
This reflected a natural interest in colleagues and
others in attendance.
I am confident through this experience
that Graham Fitch would be a strong collegiate member
of staff for Griffith University at the Queensland
Also I consider he must be a front-runner in the
selection process. Personally, I found him to be an engaging
musician with a vital mind: one who, in my time as
at the University of Melbourne, I would have been
anxious to appoint.
RONALD FARREN-PRICE AM
On first studying with Graham Fitch, I had no intention
of becoming a pianist, nor did any of my previous teachers
expect it of me. It is solely down to his inspiring
work that, at the relatively late age of 16 I decided
to switch from the violin.
Having been a talented, yet utterly undisciplined piano
student up till that time, Graham enabled me to realize
my latent abilities. As a technical trainer, no problem
was without a solution, and under his tutelage my progress
took everyone at the Purcell School, not least myself
Nowadays, if I encounter a difficulty, I often find
myself musing 'What would Graham have suggested', and
an answer always comes to mind. His firm, compassionate
and holistic approach to piano playing (which is embodied
in his own playing) has always remained with me.
Musically, his advice was always simple, pure and relevant
and I don't recall him ever disagreeing with my own
ideas once - rather, he would have the wisdom to understand
exactly what I was trying to say and, if it wasn't coming
across successfully, would always know how to steer
me in the right direction, without imposing his own
formidable musical will upon me. He opened new musical
vistas to me, and I owe that fact that I'm a pianist
at all to his guidance.
I have known Graham for the past ten years and can honestly
say he is one of the most brilliant and talented teachers
I have had the privilege of knowing.
I have had many years of teaching experience, but
have seldom come across anyone who has such a marvelous
and always able to find solutions, be it technical or
interpretive. He has the most interesting way of being
able to explain
things in an imaginative and clear way. I have learned
much while attending eisteddfods and master classes,
marveled at the way in which he encourages and builds
I have sent pupils to study with him at university and in
every instant they have blossomed and grown enormously under
Graham is a wonderful performer, playing with sensitivity
and insight. He is an expert in Baroque music and all round
a highly gifted musician.
Dear Graham.....I want you to know how much I appreciate
all the times you audjudicated at the eisteddfod, and
all the time and trouble you took with every candidate.
I remember one year in particular, I had very little
children playing, and I was so worried as they get very
nervous, and I could not be there that day.
Well, you cannot believe the phone calls I got from
parents that evening!
Some of the comments I heard were..."Ilana, he
got on to the stage and gave each child a lesson"
he explained things with such care, to make sure the
candidate understood exactly how to practise"...
even when some children were obviously not well prepared,
he made only positive comments that would be helpful"
The next year I made sure I was present at the eisteddfod,
and I saw exactly what the other teachers and parents
had been raving about...in fact , I learned so much
that i even started practising new pieces myself, and
found all sorts of technical problems were solved from
what I had learned by your comments to various candidates.
I feel very sad that you are no longer in Cape Town
, as I and my pupils gained so much from you during
those years when you were an audjudicator.
We will continue to keep the comments and advice in
our heads...about how to practise...the three S's...SLOWLY
, SEPARATE HANDS, AND SECTIONS...and hopefully we will
still continue to strive to perfect things using your
PS I have been teaching piano for over thirty years!
Graham Fitch is amongst the most accomplished piano
pedagogues that I have encountered during my career.
As a young
pianist, I was fortunate enough to have some lessons
from Graham. His sense for structuring technique,
and accomplishing musical goals is of the highest
Graham is a wonderful and inspiring concert pianist
himself. Any institution would be fortunate to have
Graham on their faculty.