A.L.C.M. BSc Hons
I teach piano and harp, and coach performance and improvisation, and I am an Associate of the London College of Music, (A.L.C.M). I really enjoy working with people of all ages, from children, to adults perhaps taking up an old passion again, or who have always wanted to play and never made the move! Although harp is currently my main performance instrument, I am equally at home teaching piano, especially as this was originally my first instrument.
Originally classically trained, I now play a wide range of styles of music, from contemporary to classical including: pop, rock, jazz. I have performed internationally with artists including Nigel Kennedy, I lead my own band - Tori Handsley Trio - and I am an active part of the music scene which adds to my versatility and skills to offer. From my own experience, I am keen to encourage children especially to look at different styles of music, to develop their passions as well as techniques.
I have helped individuals prepare for: high pressure recordings, performances, interviews and examinations; to improvise and lead confidentally and to learn to play in a band context. I am passionate about helping people develop freedom away from the 'notes' of the music on the page, to develop a deeper understanding of the structure of music, to grasp it as a whole: to be free with it and not be scared!
I have had a wide range of experience, both personal and professional, including: co-hosting 'Freedom: The Art of Improvisation' monthly sessions at the Vortex; teaching one-to-one age 6 to 60; taking large workshops for 70-80 children; working with the elderly in nursing homes and day centres, Alzheimers patients, the disabled and those with various special needs. I have even run a class of guitarists for Rock School! My beautiful neice has cerebral palsy amongst other conditions, so I have a personal connection and compassion for people with special needs and desire to treat individuals as an open book, rather than label their conditions and presumed restrictions. The possibilities are then endless. I have also worked with Music in Hospitals, Sunbeams Music Trust, and I volunteered for 4 years working with PMLD children (profound multiple learning difficulties) at the Bridge School Islington, using music to communicate in an improvised setting, some of the most powerful experiences with music I have had to date.
I have always had a great admiration and thirst for teaching, from the many invaluable teachers I have been lucky to encounter myself, including my mum. From a young age I had the privilege of watching her inspire children and adults alike from all backgrounds - an amazing teacher and mentor helping individuals often others said were 'failing', to inspire confidence in them, transcending into all aspects of their lives.
Please give me a call to discuss what you are looking for and for further details. I am happy also to help students through graded exams for any syllabus.
Please scroll down for testimonials
I coach individuals in the 'Art of Improvisation & Performance' fascinated by the mentalities behind these crucial aspects to art and life! Aspects not often broached in traditional education, but, for me, crucial to allow one's freedom and creativity to be unleashed. I welcome people from all walks of life, and professions - perhaps starting up a new, daring business or needing to lead a team more confidentally.
I have coached people in the following:
- rising to high pressure situations, performances, interviews, speeches
- increasing inner confidence, to know you can make mistakes, cope psychologically, maintain perspective, focus, and recover
- overcoming worries of "failure"
- enhancing self belief to be able to step out into the unknown
- creating an increased feeling of positivity, discussing past experiences, resulting in empowerment to face similar challenges
- develop freedom away from the notes of the music on the page, or the words for a speech
- to be able to get lost and calmly find yourself again!
- to create strategies
- public speaking
- Risk taking
- Increasing confidence to stand up for your beliefs, to stand out from the crowd!
"Tori's professional yet innovative and personal approach to teaching has meant that she has become a mentor to me as well as a music teacher.
"She has the gift to inquire into and draw out what your aims and dreams are with what you are doing. This is of primary interest to her as it guides her teaching and the journey that we embark upon together. Very early on we began incorporating these goals into the material we were working on which became extremely exciting and rewarding, as I could see them taking shape in front of me.
"Elements of technique, interpretation and improvisation are explored in an experienced yet open way. We examine the very core of these, acknowledging traditional and current approaches whilst remaining free from stylistic or historical constraints and dogma. Tori finds novel and innovative ways to discuss, illustrate and practice these elements.
"Feeling older than the average student I had fairly low expectations and a narrow view of what I could achieve. Tori has blasted that wide open, rejuvenating and freshening my creativity and dreams of what is possible. She has helped to restore my confidence and belief in my abilities and encourages me to step up and show what I can do.
"It is important to say that part of her success is that her approach is holistic in nature; the process of learning anything, being creative, physical issues, tastes, practical matters; all these are deemed significant and are looked at in a sensitive and appropriate way. She looks at your strengths and weaknesses; where you are confident or insecure, and respects these without judgement as part of the equation.
"I can enter a session feeling a bit ground down, tired and demoralised and leave feeling inspired and rejuvenated. Tori is helping me to realise that it is not too late, that there are still further potentials and possibilities in life and that the magic inherent in music is still as potent as ever."
"My 15 year old daughter has been seeing Tori for piano lessons for almost a year. My initial intention was to bring back her interest in playing the piano, which she has lost due to the "grade exam pressures" of past piano lessons.
"My daughter and I were pleasantly surprised by Tori's kind, enthusiastic, energetic and non-judgmental manner, which she naturally brings in all her lessons.
"She has a natural ability to connect to my daughter's musical and emotional needs, and has tailor-made the lessons accordingly. In particular, I value the fact that Tori has been giving a focus on improvisation and fun, which is taking my daughter on a wonderful path of connecting with her talents.
"Piano lessons have become a time for fun and let go of tension, giving a natural way for her creativity to arise. She is always very happy after lessons, even when she has had a bad day in the school. I have seen a significant improvement in her self-confidence, especially when it comes to making her own choices and taking risks.
"My daughter and I had the fortune of seeing her perform on one of her gigs. It was a real pleasure to watch and listen such a great musician, apart from the excellent quality of music she brings a sense of commitment to deliver a special message to all her pieces.
"We feel very fortunate to have met Tori, she has showed us a totally new dimension to music teaching. My daughter's piano lessons turned out to be more "fun piano therapy lessons" What a great combination!"
"Our daughter Gigi, just turned 7, has been having harp lessons with Tori for about a year now. Our 5 year old son Milo also recently started keyboard lessons with her.
"We chose Tori principally because we wanted Gigi's introduction to music to be without pressure, age-appropriate and above all, fun! After speaking at length with Tori, it was clear that she could provide Gigi with all of those things and more. Not only does she have amazing technical dexterity and the ability to amaze and inspire with her talent, but she also possesses an infectious energy and has a calm and kind approach.
"Having a very creative child, we wanted her to be able to explore music and musicality with complete freedom and without fear - Tori has been able to give our daughter that space and hearing the songs and compositions that they create together is always one of the highlights of our week!
"Now that our son has also started lessons with Tori, we look forward to seeing where our children's musical journey will take them. We couldn't have asked for a better start or for a better teacher."
One of my students Alistair, who has been studying with me for 1 year, here playing at the Improvisation night I co-host - Freedom The Art of Improvisation