I have had many music teachers since first learning the piano at eight years old, but so few of them have been such innate musicians as Andrew. His determination to deliver the best education for each student is evident in each and every lesson. And there is always a lesson to be learnt! There is no trace of the old adage “Jack of all trades” here! Whether decoding the trills in Bach, or breathing the life into Howells, his meticulous approach taught me the art of the musician, and not simply the way of the organist. Andrew’s tuition and musical influence has inspired me to follow the path towards professional musician, and I am now studying Organ at the Conservatoire in Birmingham.
Former organ student, former organ scholar at St Thomas’s and now a professional musician
Apollo Baroque Consort
I first met Mr. Fletcher when I was lucky enough to be accepted in St. Thomas' men & boys’ choir where he held position of Choir Master. Although having no prior musical training, over the following years I became an enthusiastic chorister with a newly found appreciation for choral music, compiling a large list of all my favourite pieces I encountered during an invaluable musical experience. It is testament to his teaching techniques as well as his dedication, that despite my previous non-musicality I could ultimately be transformed into a Head Chorister. With engrained musical habits which were now second nature, (thanks to the training I received during my time in the choir), I decided to become a Piano student under Mr. Fletcher. His friendly yet professional approach has again instilled a passion and appreciation for something I would not otherwise have been lucky enough to experience. Personal preference with regards to the direction of my tuition is met with enthusiasm and support as are my numerous questions which are always answered with a great knowledge and clarity. This is a key difference between him and lesser teachers who instead peddle a superficial approach through lack of explanation or focus on musical understanding.
Former Head Chorister and now piano student
I studied organ under Andrew from 1998 to 2001, during which time I learnt many fundamentals which have since helped to shape my own musical development. The most notable of these was the concept of Baroque articulation. Andrew’s in-depth guidance on this subject has been invaluable to my understanding of Baroque music and particularly changed my approach to playing the music of Bach. Whilst the advice was systematic enough to apply to a number of scenarios, the resulting effect was never ‘dry’ or mechanical, and musicality was always of foremost importance. This applied to all areas of repertoire, in particular locating climax points and areas of interest, and learning how to pace the music around them so that the landscape of the music could be effectively portrayed to the listener. In addition, Andrew worked on areas of technique such as pedalling and fingering, and the rhythmic and strategic pressing of pistons, so that technical failings never hampered the overall musical effect. During my time with Andrew I studied for my ARCO which included all areas of keyboard skills (transposition, improvisation, harmonisation and figured bass) and paperwork (Bach chorale harmonisation, Palestrina counterpoint, Classical string quartets, fugal expositions and analysis). Andrew’s expertise in all these areas helped me to gain a paperwork prize in my ARCO examination! In addition, I held the Organ Scholarship at St Thomas’s Church, Stourbridge (under Andrew’s direction) where he taught me the fundamental skills of Choral accompaniment and direction (ensemble and balance, registration, choral conducting etc), which I now draw upon on a daily basis. The choir’s extensive repertoire allowed me to study and perform many accompaniments which were not often tackled at church level. Above all, I was taught to think beyond the notes and to look to the moods and sentiments inherent in the words of hymns and psalms, so that hymn accompaniment could inspire the singers rather than just support them, and also to give a commanding lead in hymn playing through the study of metrical links between verses. Andrew’s own hymn accompaniments were always extremely colourful and this has had a major influence on the way I now approach hymn playing in my own post (as Assistant Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral). Andrew also helped me prepare for Oxbridge and Cathedral Organ Scholarship auditions, and under his tutelage I was successful in securing scholarships at both St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. I consider myself very fortunate to have studied under Andrew and I am immensely grateful for the wide variety of skills he has taught me, which have undoubtedly helped shape my own career. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending him as a teacher to anyone at any stage of their development and experience.
Former organ student; former organ scholar at St Thomas’s
I was introduced to Andrew at the age of 7, when I became a chorister at St Thomas' Church, Stourbridge. I was there for 7 years and during my time there Andrew also started to give me piano lessons. His professionalism and passion for music has most certainly made me the musician I am today, and since his tutelage, I have gone on to study Music and Music Technology at Keele University. I also teach keyboard/piano lessons to a variety of age groups and I have been given the position of Musical Director in a local amateur theatre company, a role which I have achieved from my reputation as a musician, singer and pianist, which I would not have gained without Andrew's dedication to perfection. He also developed in me a sense of self-confidence and assurance that has led to my being able to carry off many live performances both as an actor and as a musician. His love for music is infectious and is something that has been passed on to me and many others.
Former Head Chorister; former piano student
I had been a chorister at St. Thomas’s Church in Stourbridge for about two years when Andrew arrived, but the little time it took him to take the choir to new heights was quite breathtaking. A major recruitment campaign took place to swell the treble ranks, allowing the choir’s contributions to services to be dramatically increased, and some eighty new choral works were introduced in the first year alone! Andrew is a musician in the truest sense of the word, and I know I am not alone in having enjoyed first-hand the richness of his harmonic vocabulary in his many compositions, last-verse descants and word-painting in hymns. I must also say that I have never come across anyone whose pointing of the psalms sheds more light on the words than Andrew’s. No matter what style of piece is being performed, his attention to detail, whether to do with accuracy, blend, tuning or expression, is obsessive. Don’t expect him to tolerate approximation! After my days in the treble ranks were done, I moved into the back rows and took up the organ with Andrew. He continued, using his own word, to “infect” me with his love of music and within two years the Friends of the Music Committee, which he had worked hard to set up on his arrival, funded an organ scholarship for me at St. Thomas’s. This experience enabled me to gain by ARCO diploma, followed by successive scholarships at University College, Durham, and Durham Cathedral, leading ultimately to the school and organ teaching in which I am currently occupied. I make no secret of the fact that I have a lot to be thankful for, and count myself lucky that one of the country’s most inspiring musicians was in the right place for me at the right time!
Former Head Chorister and Organ Student, now Assistant Director of Music and Organist at Dauntsey’s School, Wiltshire
It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be taught piano by Andrew Fletcher from 1987-1992. His expert tuition guided me through Grade 2 to Grade 8 and beyond to Advanced Certificate. I achieved several distinctions along the way which I attribute to Andrew's attention to detail, his superb knowledge of the Classical Music Repertoire with its different styles, his expert technical teaching methods, and his extraordinary ability as a solo recitalist and performer in his own right, enabling him to demonstrate the many difficult techniques. But perhaps most of all, Andrew had the unique ability to bring out the very best in a pupil, and the rare gift of conveying real musicianship, teaching you to feel the emotion behind a piece and play from the heart. All this was done in a very kind and patient manner. I believe it's these qualities that set apart the good teachers from the great ones. The ones that make a big impact on you, the one teacher that you remember from your childhood that inspired you. Andrew had all these qualities in abundance - he was certainly a great teacher, and a huge inspiration. Andrew inspired me and shaped me musically, giving me confidence and belief in my own ability, sometimes to perform pieces which I thought at first might be out of my range, or perhaps too challenging. He pushed me and made me into a much better pianist and all round musician. In addition to piano tuition, Andrew gave me several sessions in Music Theory and Harmony. This was in preparation for Music 'A' Level, and was invaluable in helping me achieve an 'A' grade and go on to study Music at Leeds University. It was also pivotal in giving me a clearer understanding of harmony and chord progression, and helping me to 'hear' the music on the score, and knowing what it sounded like before I played it, and also useful for playing piano by ear, and songwriting. I'm very fortunate to make a life out of music and performing. And I'm sure that I wouldn't be quite the same accomplished musician I am if it wasn't for Andrew. I'm extremely proud to say that Andrew Fletcher was my Piano Teacher. He guided me and helped me musically, and I will always feel grateful, happy and very lucky that he played such a big part of the important early years of my musical upbringing and development. Very recently, I was re-united with Andrew after sixteen years. I'm happy to say that he is still the same warm, charming, kind-hearted person. I was also lucky enough to see him perform an Organ Recital at Christchurch Priory Church. Quite simply an amazing performance. Andrew Fletcher is the best teacher a pupil could ask for. He is an extraordinary performer, and a very charming, charismatic guy. I can't recommend him highly enough.
Former piano student, now a professional musician
Andrew had a profound influence on the direction my life has taken. Whilst I was a chorister at St. Thomas’ Parish Church, Stourbridge, Andrew instilled in me a love of all choral music and a desire to perform it to the highest standard. As a youth in the choir, I benefited from a perfect balance of discipline and enjoyment; developing comprehensive musical proficiency but also essential life abilities including leadership, communication and team work. I continued to work weekly with Andrew as a singer until I was eighteen, when all I wanted to do was sing! I have since been a choral scholar, progressing to Lay Clerk, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, making several recordings under the Delphian label, broadcasting on BBC Radio 3 and
Classic FM, and touring in the UK and US. Andrew brings a musicality and sensitivity to choral performance that I have rarely experienced anywhere else; his quest for brilliance in all things musical is infectious and inspiring.
Former Head Chorister, now a Lay Clerk at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh
I very much enjoyed working with Andrew for over four years as Organ Scholar at St Thomas's Church, Stourbridge. It was a steep learning curve, particularly at first, and I still vividly remember my first service under his direction and wondering what I had let myself in for! But Andrew's desire for perfection cultivated my sense of determination to tackle any repertoire that came my way, be it solo or accompaniment. Andrew’s very strong musicality was so apparent in both playing and direction, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to study and work alongside him.
Former Organ Scholar at St Thomas's and Southwell Minster, now Organ Scholar at Royal Hospital, Chelsea and RAM. Organ Scholar Elect at The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban
I consider Andrew of unequalled importance in my musical education so far. His tuition not only covered the rudiments of organ playing, but also the approach to and interpretation of music as a whole. My confidence grew quickly; I studied with Andrew from 2003 to 2006 and in those three years I went from being a near beginner to passing my ABRSM Grade 8 with Distinction. With Andrew I tackled music of all styles and periods, also hymn-playing and liturgical music and felt confident when performing. Lessons were always enjoyable and something new was learnt each week. Most importantly however I was able to pick up the sheer love and dedication to music-making which I believe to be the greatest gift a teacher can pass on to a pupil.
Royal College of Music Organ Scholar, All Saints', Margaret Street