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Biography of Heather Nelson - classical guitar teacher

Resonance Guitar Duo

Resonance Guitar Duo David McMillan and Heather Nelson 2010

Born in Scotland Heather Nelson (nee Graham) moved to Perth, Australia at the age of seven. The following year she started acoustic guitar lessons and made rapid progress on the instrument. Later she took up classical guitar in secondary school, studying with John Casey who gave her a love of the genre. This gifted teacher became musical director of the guitar orchestra ‘Guitarstrophe’ (of which Heather was a founding member), went on to teach guitar at the University of Western Australia, and his greatness in the profession was ultimately rewarded with an honorary doctorate of music in 2006.

After leaving school Heather studied part-time for a few years at the University of Western Australia while also teaching guitar privately and working a night shift in the medical records department of Royal Perth Hospital. It was during this time that she grasped the opportunity to learn a little piano, and a lot of flute!

In 1982 she returned to the UK with a view to having a six month working holiday. That decision changed everything however, after taking part in a number of summer schools with teacher John Arran in both Scotland and Cheshire, she went on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama under Phillip Thorne. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance she went on to do a postgraduate year in classical guitar and electronic music, and won the RSAMD Guitar Challenge Prize 1989.

In recent years Heather’s time has been taken up with teaching privately, raising three children, and playing as part of the guitar duo ‘Resonance’. This latter activity is a reflection of her love of more than one guitar which was kindled back in Australia playing with the Western Australian Schools Guitar Ensemble. It also influences her teaching style where ensemble is encouraged both for the fun of it and it’s educational benefits.

There is no doubt that classical guitar is Heather’s primary instrument, she readily admits that she is for the most part self-taught on flute, but her playing is such that she often plays as part of a group during church services, and originally started teaching these instruments by request. A big advantage to playing such different instruments is the insights they give to different styles of music.

Copyright © 2010 Heather Nelson and Bennington Media