Principal : Iveta Hlavenkova
Iveta Hlavenkova, violin teacher and Principal of Leeds Violin School
Violin teacher Iveta Hlavenkova learnt to play the violin under some of the most illustrious violin teachers in her homeland of the Czech Republic. These included Petr Mechura who was Iveta's violin teacher during her formative years at Pisek's School of Music, and Jan Drha from the renowned Conservatory at Ceske Budejovice. In addition, Iveta attended the Annual International Courses for Young Musicians between 1990-2003, where her violin teachers were Associate Professor Jindřich Pazdera and Jan Drha.
Iveta Hlavenkova started her career as a violin teacher in the Czech Republic in 2002, combined with studying at Charles University in Prague where she was awarded an MA degree. There followed a period of touring as a performing violinist in the United States of America, before eventually arriving in the UK where she has been a violin teacher in Leeds since 2010. Iveta's philosophy on teaching the violin together with her skill, dedication and experience has ultimately led to her decision to establish the Leeds Violin School. More about Iveta Hlavenkova and her path towards the formation of the Leeds Violin School can be found on the About page.
The high standard of Iveta's music tuition in the Czech Republic, combined with her dedication and passion for the violin, led to her becoming runner-up in the prestigious South Bohemia Violin Competition in 1999, and culminated in winning the fiercely contested 2002 Chamber Music Competition held in Trebon and the 2003 Annual Strings Competition in Pisek.
Robin Timmis, violin teacher
Robin started studying the violin at the age of 5 and was taught according to the Suzuki method. As his classical studies progressed, he went on to achieve ABRSM Grade 8 whilst in high school. He continued his musical studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), achieving a 2:1 BA (Hons). Throughout his time at SOAS, he primarily focused on North Indian classical and Klezmer music. He studied Klezmer violin with the London Klezmer Quartet violinist, Ilana Cravitz. For his final year recital, he achieved a high 1st class grade.
Following graduation, Robin continued to pursue his love of Indian classical music, spending 6 months in India studying Raga with the Varanasi based musician, Sanjay Mishra. This period of study has equipped Robin with a deep understanding of the performance of Indian classical Raga. Outside of these particular genres, Robin enjoys playing English and Celtic folk music.
As a teacher Robin is thorough, patient, creative and open-minded. He has the ability and experience to teach students of all abilities, age groups and backgrounds. His strengths as a teacher lie in his versatility in approaching a diverse range of styles, whilst catering to students’ individual interests.
Before working for Leeds Violin School, Robin worked at a music workshop for teenagers with disabilities. This has helped him develop innovative and accommodating approaches when engaging students with special needs, ensuring that all students will be fully catered for.
As a performer, Robin plays in several ensembles encompassing folk-jazz fusion, Klezmer, country blues, as well as continuing his lifelong interest in classical music.
John Cummins, violin teacher
John Cummins is an accomplished violinist with a vocation to pass on his skills to budding musicians of all ages. John’s ambition to become a musician and subsequently a violin teacher was partly inspired by his childhood experiences of learning the violin and playing for Leeds Youth Orchestra and Opera.
Having passed the ABRSM’s Grade 8 violin examination with Distinction, followed by the ABRSM Diploma in Violin Performance, John is ideally qualified to train students to a high level, enabling them to take advantage of opportunities to join other musicians in ensembles which suit their musical interests. John is a strong supporter of student violinists joining a music group at an early stage, and his pupils are encouraged to play with the Junior Violin Group, the Leeds Folk Fiddle Group or one of the other bands or orchestras in Leeds as soon as they are at a suitable level.
John performs with a number of music groups in the region. He is one of the leaders of the University of York Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra and has been a member since 2009. His musical interests extend across the full spectrum of styles and periods, and as well as performing symphonic and chamber music, John is a long-standing member of the Chimera ensemble which concentrates on contemporary music. Since 2012, he has also been a member of Eboracum Baroque.
Currently John is studying for a PhD in Music (Composition) at the University of York, having achieved a First Class BA Honours degree in Music in 2012 and an MA in Music, with Distinction, in 2013. Whilst at university, John also was awarded the Edd Burrell Prize for performance in 2011.
Bethan Morgan-Williams, violin teacher
Bethan started playing the violin when she was three years old - studying with the late Derek Jackson of Kerry, Newtown - and grew up in mid-Wales playing folk music and accompanying local country dancing. She won her first solo competition, for under-16 instrumentalists, when just five years old, following this with successes at competitions across the UK.
In 2001, at the age of nine, Bethan was offered a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School, one of the five specialist music schools in Great Britain, where she was taught by Catherine Lord and Philip Dukes. Bethan performed her first concerto - the Khachaturian - with the Wrexham Symphony Orchestra when she was just fourteen, and now plays both violin and viola professionally around the UK. Bethan has appeared on stage with ensembles from the English Concert Orchestra to the Grammy-winning funk collective Snarky Puppy, and teaches at Yorkshire Young Musicians, as well as Leeds Violin School.
Bethan Morgan-Williams is a charismatic performer across a wide spectrum of musical genres and couples bravura technique with a real sense of audience communication. Her training as a classical violinist has always sat alongside her various other interests - including folk, jazz, electronic and contemporary music. In 2010, Bethan was offered a scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music, to study violin with Leland Chen and composition with Gary Carpenter. Bethan is an inventive composer, whose achievement in the field has recently been recognised by her acceptance on to the prestigious LSO Panufnik Scheme. Bethan also works closely with drummer & producer Thomas Rydeard, as part of an electroacoustic duo currently working towards its first release.
Bethan’s love of teaching is self-evident. Using her professional knowledge and experience to enthuse her students, Bethan instils in them both a love of music and of their instrument.
Bethan plays a violin from 1895, handcrafted by Jeffery J Gilbert.
Imogen Clarke, violin teacher
Imogen Clarke is an experienced violin teacher - as well as working for Leeds Violin School, she is an Approved teacher for the City of York Council and also works with Artforms in Leeds and Fulford Music Academy in York.
Underpinning Imogen's experience as a violin teacher is the course work she undertook for her postgraduate degree, for which she was awarded an MA in Music (Performance) at the University of York. This covered all aspects of instrumental teaching pedagogies, including planning lessons and the appropriate use of material, as well as teaching practice. In her undergraduate course - for which she was awarded a First Class Honours BA degree in Music - she studied community music which focused on music pedagogies and how they can be applied to school education. Her studies gave her experience of Kodaly music pedagogy theories, the principles of which Imogen uses in her instrumental teaching.
Although a native English speaker herself, Imogen has extensive experience of working with students whose first language is other than English. She is also experienced at working with students who have disabilities, encouraging all students to learn the violin to their full potential.
Imogen is an excellent all-round musician, being not only proficient in playing the violin, as evidenced by her University qualifications, but having also achieved ABRSM Grade 8 in viola (Distinction), recorder and music theory, together with Grade 5 in piano and singing. She is an enthusiastic ensemble performer and keen to encourage the pupils of Leeds Violin School to join either the Junior Violin Group or the Leeds Folk Fiddle Group, or one of the local classical orchestras if students prefer.
Blerina Brahimlari, violin teacher
Violin teacher Blerina Brahimlari started playing the violin at the age of 6 at the Professional Music School in Fier in Albania where she studied until she was 18 years old. At the age of 12 she moved to Tirana, the capital of Albania and won the violin competition of Academy of Arts in Tirana. Following graduation, Blerina continued to play violin with the Academy Orchestra of Tirana, giving concerts in Albania, Italy, Greece and Macedonia.
In 1997 Blerina achieved Violin diploma. She started her career as a violin teacher in Albania in 1998. Blerina then decided to move to Greece and taught violin for 15 years, teaching in public and private schools.
Blerina is a passionate teacher with excellent ability to connect, especially with children of any age, having two children of her own. She is very patient and encouraging. Her teaching methods are a combination of multiple approaches and she can lead her students up to professional levels in short period of time, if the right amount of practice is put in and students follow her leadership.
Blerina is an enthusiastic musician and loves teaching, either in groups or especially in one-to-one individual lessons where the best of each student's potential can be reached. Blerina is very thorough, sensitive and cares deeply about her students and their musical future. She makes sure each student will get the best of each lesson and will look forward to the next one! She enjoys teaching adults of all levels as well, especially adult beginners. She is able to explain the technical aspects of playing very easily so anyone can learn, no matter what age and with no previous experience with music.
Among other teaching methods, schools and approaches, Blerina is familiar with Suzuki, ABRSM and Trinity and can tailor the lessons according to your needs and preference. Blerina is also working in Leeds for Templenewsam Primary School as a violin teacher and co-leading the school orchestra.