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City Lit music tutor honoured at Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards 2017

Story added 10th Jul 2017

City Lit music tutor Una Birtchnell with her award

City Lit music tutor Una Birtchnell has been honoured at the prestigious Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Awards (partnered by Casio and ABRSM).

Una received the Peripatetic Music Teacher Award from Classic FM presenter Myleene Klass at a plush ceremony at the Barbican Centre.

She beat a whole host of entries from across the country to win the award, after being nominated by her students. Una teaches on the classical music (instrumental) programme at City Lit, sharing her expert knowledge of classical, baroque, traditional, contemporary popular and folk music with her students. Una received a Celviano Grand Hybrid piano by Casio for winning the award.

Speaking about Una’s nomination, City Lit student Robert Meteyard revealed:

“Our class took a joint and unanimous decision to nominate Una for the Classic FM award in September 2016. A fellow student heard about the award on the radio and suggested it to the group. Everyone immediately agreed to write short statements about their personal experience of Una's teaching and we produced a video to represent Una at work. We quickly realised that in order to do proper justice to the breadth of Una's teaching we would need to reach out to the other schools and music services where Una teaches, and we were also able to contact some of Una's former City Lit students who were very pleased to be able to make a contribution. 

“We all felt that it was so important to include as much as possible to capture the richness of Una's musical activities with her students of all ages. Due to the timing of the award we were actually unable to capture everything that she does. Although it was quite a lengthy process, it was made quite easy by the wealth of material that was available and the enthusiasm of all Una's students.”

The judging panel had the following to say about Una’s work: “Four music sites and countless individual testimonials contributed to Una’s nomination, all with the same conclusion: her teaching brings a miracle mix of laughter, encouragement, and challenge to everyone she teaches. With students ranging from six to more than 80 years old, she has contributed overwhelmingly to the musical lives of so many. She is as comfortable directing large classes as she is with individuals, and has the ability to seek out areas for improvement in the most constructive way. Her choices of music are always entertaining and varied, whilst her attention to technical aspects remains paramount to the development of her pupils.”

Una said: "I am incredibly thrilled and in fact overwhelmed to receive this award. I teach and collaborate with many other totally brilliant and dedicated professional musicians and feel very lucky and inspired to do so. I am extremely proud of all my students, and of our 65 piece Orchestra, which is the result of many years of local collaboration and a shared belief in the transformational nature of learning, playing and performing music together. Our sessions each week have given hundreds of children discipline, pride and enjoyment and also a real sense of being part of something unique. It has bought many people together and has empowered all involved, confirming to me how important it is to establish, encourage and nurture the love of music as early as possible. These are life skills and will hopefuly inform and influence in years to come. The children have the confidence and ability to walk on to any stage , anywhere and perform with absolute conviction.

"This energy and passion for learning is evident throughout the schools I teach at in Lewisham, Greenwich and Camden. It is also abundant at City Lit. The commitment, talent and good humour of all my students there helps create a wonderful opportunity for us to explore music together."

Classic FM presenter Myleene Klass said: “Music teachers are heroes – and without their hard work and dedication many children would not experience the joy of making and listening to music. As part of Classic FM’s 25th birthday celebrations, we’re delighted to team up with Casio and ABRSM as we honour Una and four other inspirational music teachers with our awards.”

Visit the Classic FM website for full details on the awards ceremony.

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