About Us

Meet The Phoenix Collective

The Phoenix Collective members come with a vast amount of varied experience in education, music and performance. Meet us here!



I started life as a primary class teacher with a scraped Grade VII piano and ‘O’ Level music as my only musical background.   I was soon given the task of teaching music throughout a school of 4-8 year olds and realised I did not have the skills or

knowledge to be able to do this effectively.


My wise headteacher sent me on a Kodály course and my world started to change…


Now, after many years of learning from amazing teachers, I am passionate about this wonderful, structured, joyful way to teach and to learn musical skills, knowledge and understanding – it is my raison d’être!

I grew up with the unshakeable belief that I was ‘not musical’ – because I was never a good pianist, I couldn’t do aural tests, or sight-sing, or write a dictation;  theory never made much sense to me.   I perceived that ‘performance’, ‘aural’ and ‘theory’ were three separate entities.   It was only Kodály study that made me realise that they are all interconnected and also part of this whole wonderful thing called ‘music’.   It also unlocked

all the music that was inside me and which I never knew was there.


My passion is bringing musical skills, knowledge and understanding to a huge variety of people – to children; to adults who are both professional or amateur musicians; to both specialist and generalist teachers.    I have realised that Kodály musicianship has so much to offer a vast range of people, including choral singers, class teachers and professional players.  A particular interest in recent years has been discovering the benefits of Kodály musicianship to those working in different styles and genres, including pop, electronic music and modern a cappella singing.


Besides TPC courses, I offer musicianship lessons, both in groups (evening) and individually (day) and am very excited to offer the following courses.


I also offer a bespoke mentoring service for teachers already using the Kodály approach in their teaching.


This can include the following:


                                                      Guidance with planning interview lessons

                                                      Help with long and short-term lesson planning

                                                      The observation of experienced teachers at a junior conservatoire

                                                      Advice upon observing the teacher’s lesson (either in person or electronically)

                                                      ‘Troubleshooting’ – help with problems which may occur

We encourage all our course attendees to provide us with feedback and or testimonials which help us maintain the high quality of courses we provide.


Cyrilla Rowsell BEd, Advanced Musicianship Diploma (Distinction)


Cyrilla was a class teacher in primary schools for 11 years.


She has taught in a wide variety of settings including schools, music hubs, a junior conservatoire, and for organisations including the ABRSM, the Hallé Orchestra, Dalcroze UK as well as privately.   She has taught musicianship, methodology and conducting all over the UK and also in Hungary, Holland, Malaysia and Australia.


She is the co-author of the Jolly Music series of books for primary schools and has written many articles for a variety of publications.  She has presented at major conferences such as musiclearninglive! and the Music Education Expo.


She was the very first Advisory Teacher for the Voices Foundation and has a wealth of experience working with both class and specialist music teachers.  She has run training courses all over the UK and also in Hungary, Australia, Holland and Malaysia.  These have included providing input on courses run by the ABRSM, Dalcroze UK, NYCoS and ESTA.


Cyrilla was trustee, curriculum adviser, tutor and courses planner for the British Kodály Academy.  She co-wrote, taught, administered and marked the BKA’s CPD-accredited Certificate Course and also co-wrote a musicianship syllabus.


She is the classes co-ordinator for the Kindergarten Course and String/Brass Training Programme at Junior Guildhall.    Her Year 7 students there were the youngest ever to achieve the BKA Level 4 musicianship exam.


She teaches musicianship, methodology and conducting to private groups and individuals. Her private students have included professional orchestral players, amateur choral singers, a producer of electronic dance music and a founder member of ‘The Bootleg Beatles’!



I had a traditional musical upbringing, learning the piano first with my mother and then with Andrew Haigh, a concert pianist and teacher in Kent. I competed in many local, regional and national piano competitions, including The Young Musician of the Year. I gained an LTCL in piano performance whilst at school.


I decided to follow an academic route at Cambridge, studying music whilst pursuing a new love for accompanying alongside solo performing on the piano. It was whilst at Cambridge that I gradually realised that a performing career was

not where I wanted to head and by accident “fell” into teaching. With a mountain of books and a PGCE that taught a lot about classroom management, but still didn’t address how to teach musicianship skills to young children, I was encouraged to investigate the Kodály approach to music education.


From my first encounter at the Elementary Musicianship classes held by David Vinden, I connected immediately to the approach and philosophy. I can honestly say, that learning and developing a love and passion for the Kodály approach to music education has changed my life – both by developing my personal musicianship but also giving me a logical and thorough approach to teaching music which also makes it fun and enjoyable!


The holistic nature of Kodály’s philosophy affects my beliefs about education as a whole. It has helped me rethink my own approach to education as well as the values we are trying to develop in our two girls. I will never stop learning – that is the joy!


Dr. Liz Blackford PhD (Reading); MA (Cantab); LTCL (Piano Performance); LTCL (Music Education); PGCE (Secondary Music)


Liz graduated from Cambridge University with a Music degree in 1993. In the first two years since leaving Cambridge, Liz taught the piano; GCSE and A Level Music; and singing in a Musical Theatre School. She quickly discovered a love for classroom music teaching and especially with the early years, following her appointment as Head of Music at The Granville School in Sevenoaks. In her third year of teaching, whilst at The New Beacon, a boys’ prep school for ages 4 to 13, she embarked upon a PGCE. It was during this, that she discovered Kodály training as an approach to teaching musicianship skills from babies upwards. She completed the Kodály Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Musicianship training with David and Yuko Vinden, gaining Distinctions at each level. She subsequently completed the British Kodály Academy Certificate in Music Education. Liz has also trained with Colourstings. Over the past 20 years, Liz has been a musicianship tutor and examiner on British Kodály Academy courses as well as on Colourstings courses.


Liz has been Director of Music at The New Beacon School, Sevenoaks since 2008, and Junior Music Specialist there since 1995.


Her passion for using and adapting the Kodály approach to music teaching led to the completion of a PhD in 2014 under the supervision of Professor Rhona Stainthrop. Her thesis investigated the potential benefits of the Kodály approach to learning music and whether it contributed positively to other cognitive abilities. Her thesis also looked at whether this was an holistic and enjoyable approach to music education. Her results concluded that it was beneficial to the musical progress of students and it did affect children’s general wellbeing, through enjoyment of music lessons as part of their school curriculum.


Discovering Kodály’s philosophy of music education goes beyond the classroom. His writings and thinking will be a life long passion for continued learning and developing a love of music in both children and adults.



While attending a Bahá’í arts conference in Maine, USA in 1983, I was struck by how Kodály’s philosophy was aligned with my own highest aim; the promotion of universal harmony.  I found myself passionately committed to applying his principles toward the building of such a world.   I went on to attend a full-time, year-long course at the Kodály Center of America in Boston, followed two years later, by the academic year course at the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét, where I met my husband, Malcolm Hawkins.  

The vision of what I saw in the music singing schools, children’s choirs and community choirs in Hungary, and the desperate need for humanity to enter this ‘enchanted garden of music’ – continues to call, guide, and motivate me in a wide variety of contexts, including primary classroom teaching, training parents and expectant parents along with their little-ones, pre-school and secondary school classes, cello teaching and playing, string ensemble coaching, choirs for children and adults, and neighbourhood community-building efforts. 


Charlotte Richardson Hawkins BA(Music), cello performance major at Western State College, Colorado, USA. Academic year Certificate from the Kodály Center of America.  Academic year diploma at the Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music in Kecskemét.


Sharlie has used Kodály-principled teaching in the USA at Lawrence Academy, (an independent secondary university preparatory school), The Institute for Human Potential, Green Acre Bahá’í School, Indian Hill Center for the Arts (nursery-age children), Boston inner-city schools in bilingual (Spanish and English) classes. In Belize City, Belize: The Pallotti High School and The Pallotti Music School.  In the UK: The Purcell School, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, King David Primary School (Nursery to Y6), St. Nicholas School, Oxford Brooks University, parent and toddler classes near Oxford, and currently the North London Conservatoire and the village school in Combe, her home in the UK.


She’s just now starting a local initiative to train parents and expectant mothers as their children’s first music teachers, with the hope of developing into a local music-singing school and extending to further community-building activities.



I came across the Kodály concept on a summer course in England, and subsequently spent one autumn at the Institute in Hungary on a British Council fellowship.


For many years I was a freelance double-bass player, and taught academic and instrumental music at the Royal Academy of Music junior department, as well as at Cranleigh School and other schools and colleges.

In the USA from 1992-2012 Charlotte and I worked as church musicians and our rehearsals embraced solfa and hand signs which I increasingly found indispensable. I have been especially fascinated by renaissance music and a study of the modes.


I now work as an organist at Begbroke and Yarnton near Oxford, and teach piano for Bucks Music Trust in Aylesbury.


Malcolm Hawkins M.Mus, LRAM, Diploma from the Mozarteum in Salzburg.


Malcolm studied at the Royal Academy of Music and London University, and in Salzburg with the composer Cesar Bresgen.


His choral and instrumental compositions have been performed on BBC radio 3, ORF Austria and radio stations in Germany and the USA, and at venues including St John’s Smith Square and the English Music Festival at Dorchester Abbey, Dorking Halls, Winchester and Lichfield Cathedrals and churches and colleges in the USA.


Four Carols (E.C.Schirmer) have been widely sung by the BBC Singers and the City of London Choir, the 1885 Choir, Keene State Chorus, together with other works performed by the Brighton Festival Chorus, St Paul’s, Knightsbridge,  Magdalen College, Oxford, Arlington Music Festival (Boston), Round Top Festival (Texas) and elsewhere.


Publishers: Stainer and Bell, E.C.Schirmer, Bardic Edition, and Keturi Verlag (Germany).



Whilst studying Art at Edinburgh College of Art in the mid-1980s I bought a saxophone which I attempted to play in bands

with my friends in Edinburgh and later London. I was always frustrated by my lack of skill and inability to keep up with my 'musical' friends.


In 1996 I was introduced to the concept of Kodály. It instantly made sense to me and I started to take evening classes

with David Vinden. I attended David's elementary and intermediate classes and eventually progressed to Yuko Vinden's 

advanced course. In 2003-4 I went to the Kodály institute in Kecskemét, Hungary where I completed the Diploma in Basic Kodály Pedagogy.


Solfa has opened the door for me to a level of musicianship that I thought was for 'talented' musicians only and I have had musical experiences that would not have been available to me without it. I can sight sing and transcribe things I hear and memorise pieces much more easily with solfa.


During all this time I constantly suffered from voice strain problems. Learning piano I found that I suffered from pain, numbness and tingling in my hands and arms. All this was on top of a lifetime of soreness and stiffness in my upper back and shoulders. I saw myself as someone who just didn’t have good posture, never athletic and doomed to stoop more and more in old age.


I have tried many forms of treatment for my various problems and over the years found that the Alexander Technique was the thing that seemed to offer a global solution. Whenever I had found the money to give myself some lessons I got a tantalising glimpse of the possibility of a life free from voice strain and sore shoulders and wrists.


Kathy Hulme BA Hons Fine Art, PGCE, MSTAT.


Kathy worked as a Kodály music educator in schools for 20 years and was a senior manager at Lambeth Music Service from 2008 to 2012. She left music teaching to train as an Alexander Technique Teacher and since 2016 has been teaching privately in Peckham, Pimlico and on the teacher training course at the Alexander Technique Studio Wandsworth. She has a particular interest in helping music teachers and other professional voice users.


Website: ATwithKathyHulme.com



Gerard lives in the south of Holland (Limburg). He has a Bachelor of Education in Music Education and has studied solo singing. Since 1993 he has attended every Summer School at the Kodály Institute in Kesckemét, Hungary. He has also attended many solo singing courses in Hungary led by Prof. János Klezni and Prof. Roland Hadju.


Gerard teaches Kodály Musicianship and recorder at the Institute for Art Education Myouthic, Thorn. He is also a music teacher at the music primary school of Hout-Blerick where he uses the Kodály approach with great results. He also trains teachers of primary schools throughout the whole province.

In 2018 he had a meeting with the Queen of Holland and with the Minister of Education of Holland about music education. The Minister of Education and Culture of Limburg has visited his lessons in Hout-Blerick.

Gerard has given many workshops at the conservatorium of Utrecht and Maastricht about Kodály teaching. He has also taught five times on the BKA Summer School in Telford, Cheltenham and Leicester.

He conducts one children’s choir and one adult choir. He also conducts a youth Concert Band.

Gerard’s adult choir has performed in Poland, Vienna, Salzburg, and Baden-baden.

He is in demand in Holland as a lecturer in music education of children in the primary years.

He has written, together with Paul Mestrom, a method for recorder based on Kodály principles.

Gerard’s interest in multicultural songs is great because he has travelled to many different countries to collect songs. He has also made a lot of games with classical music!



With over 20 years of experience running a very successful peripatetic teaching practice, I am passionate about music

education and relish passing on my knowledge and experience to young musicians.  I originally trained as a classical pianist but gained a place at Exeter University to read Mathematics and subsequently built a career in Marketing, Sales & Promotions, primarily in Ladies’ Fashion. 


I returned to woodwind study in my 20s studying recorder consort playing with the world renowned Dolmetsch Consort 

and with virtuoso Piers Adams, with whom I also studied as a soloist.  I also studied flute with John Bowler, flute/piccolo at the Royal Opera house Covent Garden and tutor at Trinity College of Music, and later with Derek Honner, former RPO principal flute and tutor at the Royal Academy of Music.


I achieved high distinction marks in both Level 4 and Level 8 Kodály musicianship exams


As well as teaching flute, recorder and piano, I am very much involved in the development of Instrumental Studies at the independent day school for girls I work at in Surrey where I teach 1-1 flute, piano and recorder, run four recorder groups and direct the Training Orchestra (Years 6 – 9).  I act as the in-house aural coach and freelance running Freeing the Musician Within workshops in schools and for aspiring instrumental teachers.  I also adjudicate for in-school music competitions.


Henrie would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in workshops for schools across all key stages.


Website: freeingthemusicianwithin.co.uk



Singing has been part of my life from a very young child. Family sing-songs on walks or on car journeys helped keep

four young sisters occupied and was great fun but also gave me wealth of songs that formed a solid background for my future career. I was lucky to have joined a wonderful junior choir as a child that led to joining the senior Orpington

Junior Singers where I learned how to sight-sing and also learned the importance of listening as a singer.


Our high-profile concert programme and work with the BBC gave me some special musical experiences that provided me

 with wonderful memories. My school music teacher was hugely influential in encouraging me as a musician and developing my love of music.


As a teenager, singing to the elderly in local rest homes showed me how powerful and healing singing can be.


As a qualified primary school teacher specialising in music I have worked in both state and private sector schools. I had responsibility for teaching and co-ordinating music and my most recent post was teaching music from nursery to Year 8 at Lancing Preparatory School at Worthing. Leading young teenage girls and boys to sing with conviction and joy has been a highlight for me.


I have run my own music groups for pre-school children in Bromley and taught music in nurseries for Bromley Education Authority as well as in West Sussex.


I am currently teaching one-to-one musicianship lessons with children and a small group of adults; I also lead a community choir in my village, The Monarch’s Way Singers. Our first performance was at the local church after a procession following a tractor full of Harvest produce!

In 2007, I discovered the Kodály method for teaching music in the UK through the British Kodály Academy and signed up for comprehensive CPD course entitled Sound Progressions in Kodály Music Education, accredited by Roehampton University. This was an incredible revelation on how to teach music in an accessible and fun way, ensuring that children and adults understand the mystery of music by breaking down the elements of music such as pulse, rhythm and pitch; teaching them first unconsciously, then making conscious and finally practising and reinforcing the newly acquired skills. I incorporated this into my teaching and through the musical games and activities it resulted in children acquiring solid foundations for reading music, singing and playing musical instruments.


We all have a voice and it is natural to sing. Singing makes us feel happier and science has proven this. Inspiring tutors passed on their passion to me and I aspire to do the same; sharing the joy of singing and music with my students, whatever their age!


Carole Thomas CertEd, Sound Progressions (University of Roehampton)



I began my voyage of discovery in music when I became a choirboy at Truro Cathedral. This was quite a serious commitment of daily rehearsals at 8.00 in the mornings and evensong in the afternoons.


I became captivated by the beautiful Father Willis organ, especially when it was rebuilt. The organist was the notoriously eccentric Guillaume Ormond who was quite inspirational.

I won a place at the RAM to study organ but because of problems with my fingers changed to singing with Joy Mammen and Pieter Van der Stolk. I did a fourth year studying orchestral conducting with Maurice Miles and this was paid for by a choral scholarship at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Living in the castle was extraordinary. I was a cofounder of the Collegium Musicum of Windsor and a group of us lay clerks and scholars performed concerts in the Chapel and the surrounding area.


I left Windsor after doing further study at Royal Holloway College and went straight into teaching as Head of Music at Tiffin Girl’s school in Kingston. I realised I’d never studied how to teach and was drawn into a one month summer course in Kecskemét, Hungary in 1980 studying with Peter Erdei, Ernö Lendvai, Erszébet Hegyi and Helga Szabó, amongst other great teachers. This changed my life for ever! I spent a further two years at the Kodály Institute where I also met my future wife Yuko!


I returned to England in 1983 and landed a job at the Purcell School, later becoming its Director of Music. I returned to Kecskemét every summer until 2000, teaching on the summer seminars and symposia.


My wife and I founded the Kodály Centre of London in 1992 and we provide training for adults at three levels. I retired from the Purcell School in 1995 and lectured at Trinity College of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire. In 2002 I was invited to teach at the Guildhall where I teach Kodály musicianship and am chorus master for the large choral events at the Barbican.


I have devised over 30 books of teaching materials and have collaborated with Cyrilla Rowsell on Jolly Music (a curriculum for primary schools) as well as a book on the Foundations of Harmony jointly with Mónika Benedek.


I am passionate about the need for good music education and Kodály’s approach fulfils this in every way. I have served on the International Board of the International Kodály Society for over 20 years and have created the IKS Canon Collection to raise money for scholarships for students to study at the Institute. I have been awarded the prestigious ‘From the Institute’ award in 2008 and this year was also awarded the Rhinegold Lifetime Achievement sponsored by the ISM. I have worked with Géza and Csaba Szilvay on their amazing approach to string teaching (Colourstrings) and have travelled the world teaching and conducting with Kodály as the main focus.


Life in music is like an inverted pyramid. At the bottom point we know everything because it is nothing. As we progress up the more we know but the more there is to know! We never stop learning.


David Vinden GRSM, LRAM. BMus (Hons London), ARAM. Winston Churchill Fellow.  Advanced Certificate, Kodály Institute.



I have always loved music and remember asking for a piano aged four, after hearing a recording of some Beethoven piano sonatas.  It took off from there: a voracious appetite for broadly ‘classical’ music ensued and, when the piano got left behind, it was replaced with violin, orchestral playing and, in a later chapter, recorders and the joy of consort music.


However, lurking underneath all this was a deep-rooted belief that I was not musical - an imposter, no less, just pretending to know what he was doing while surrounded by extremely talented people from musical families (I was not) to whom it came easily.  Looking back, much of this belief stemmed from a throwaway comment made to me by a contemporary in 

the primary school choir one day: ‘You can’t sing.’


It is hard to overestimate the impact of these three, simple words.  I immediately left the choir (which I had loved) and did not sing another note from the age of nine until my mid-twenties.  Instrumental music became a kind of replacement for singing but it was not the same after this: something didn’t feel quite right.  The aural part of instrumental exams became torturous. 


Fast forward to 2006 and I was a postgraduate trainee teacher, armed with some grade 8s (violin, recorder, practical musicianship), a long-held (but suppressed) desire to sing and an inkling that there was more to Primary Music than the two hours’ training I received in my PGCE course.  I attended my first Kodály course with Cyrilla Rowsell and immediately knew that my life had been changed for the better.  The whole ‘Kodály thing’ was at first a mysterious entity but I stuck with it, every time making more musical discoveries and, best of all, I WAS SINGING AGAIN!  And with confidence, too.  


This approach to music education became central to my teaching and to my musicianship.  Not only did I discover that I could hold a vocal line in complex part music, but my instrumental playing also improved as my musical understanding grew and, with it, my confidence.  This was a real ‘re-learning’ process and I am determined to help other people experience this fantastic way of making and learning music, whether they are encountering music for the first time or coming at it with fresh eyes after assorted life experiences.  I fundamentally believe that it is Never Too Early and, equally, Never Too Late...


Ben Westley DipABRSM BA (Hons) PgDip PGCE


Ben gained a first class degree in English and a postgraduate diploma in philosophy from the Southampton University before training as a teacher at Cambridge.  He has wide-ranging primary teaching experience and is currently a Reception class teacher.


Ben is active as a musician in the Bristol area, playing violin and recorders in several ensembles, as well as crumhorns  in a Renaissance consort.


Ben would be happy to hear from anyone looking for individual or small group tuition in Kodály musicianship (particularly people who, for whatever reason, consider themselves ‘unmusical’), from primary teachers looking for ways to improve the music provision in their settings or their own subject knowledge and from prospective recorder students of all ages.



I cannot remember a time in my life without music. It filled my childhood home thanks to my music-loving parents. A great memory from my nursery school days is movement to music, which I later discovered was Dalcroze Eurhythmics.


Singing was at the heart of all my young music making: several years at a convent school meant singing in assembly every day. We played the recorder and were offered lessons in many orchestral instruments, most of which I wanted to learn. After trying the recorder, violin and piano, with varying degrees of success, I discovered the flute and never looked back.

Some years later, whilst still at secondary school, I found myself volunteering in a local, deprived, primary school when one of the instrumental teachers left and was not replaced. I helped young brass players with their aural and sight-reading, taught them their pieces and accompanied their exams. I wondered why they couldn’t pitch match and why their rhythm was so poor, and when I went into the teaching profession myself and encountered the same problems I still did not feel well equipped to help.  Then came the answer: a summer school with the Kodály-based Colourstrings organisation, which inspired me to pursue several years musicianship training with David and Yuko Vinden.  Kodály is now at the heart of all my teaching, whether instrumentally, class teaching, or at higher education/adult level.


Miranda Zwalf LRAM (Performer's) ; Dip. RCM (Performer's); Dip.RCM (Teacher's); CSAK (Colourstrings); CKME; BA French Hons (University of London)


Miranda studied the flute at the Royal College of Music, where she was awarded an Exhibition and all the prizes available to flautists, followed by a post-graduate year in the USA with Geoffrey Gilbert. Whilst at the RCM her love of singing was fostered still further by the opportunity to sing and play under the baton of Sir David Willcocks. Parenthood followed a five-year stint with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, when she hung up her orchestral hat to focus on teaching, which had always been a great love.


Her discovery of Kodály led to gaining the CSAK (Colourstrings) in teaching 0-5 year olds, and the CKME in Primary Music Education. She currently teaches the flute and piano at the Stephen Perse Foundation (where she is also the Pre-Prep music teacher) and Kodály Musicianship at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to under/post-graduates.


Miranda has taught Kodály at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, for Colourstrings, Dalcroze UK, the British Kodály Academy (for whom she has written Instrumental and Primary Certificate Courses), NYCOS and the ISM. She also mentors schools wishing to incorporate Kodály into their curriculum. She is the author of a Kodály based flute tutor - A Sound Beginning in Flute Playing- and the sight singing app PitchWizard.

Miranda sings in the Cambridge University Symphony Chorus and has been privileged to sing with King’s College Chapel Choir on several occasions. She enjoys a variety of activities including art history and travel, theatre, cooking, and ballroom dancing. In addition to LRAM and Dip. RCM diplomas, Miranda has a degree in French from London University .


Websites: www.kodaly-flute.com         www.camsounds.com  (PitchWizard)


'A heart filled with love is like a phoenix that no cage can imprison.'