Miffy Hirsch BMus (Hons) PGCE - Director & founder of Northwood Music Academy

A professional violinist, she studied at The Yehudi Menuhin School, The Royal College of Music, and the Kings College, London University, as well as gaining a Postgraduate degree with The Open University.


Miffy’s professional career highlights include performing chamber music with Yehudi Menuhin himself, concerts directed by Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell when playing with the English Chamber Orchestra, premieres by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Steve Reich, and Thomas Adès with the London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble concerts at The Wigmore Hall.


She has recorded with many non-classical artists including Grace Jones, Take That and Jools Holland, and also played on numerous film soundtracks, including Titanic, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, The Mask of Zorro and Shakespeare in Love.

          Miffy has been teaching both children and adults for over 20 years.


“I’m passionate about music, and increasingly believe that if taught with a holistic element in mind (including aspects of mindfulness), students of any age can really grow and develop beyond the expected norm.

Whilst music exams are an important way of measuring success, I feel that music teaching can over-emphasize musical product over musical process. Success is too often measured solely by exams and competitions won through rote learning of a narrow repertoire of music – and unfortunately these accolades can come at a personal cost to the student.


I’ve observed children becoming too self-conscious about their final results, with the result that they no longer enjoy their practicing or feel motivated to continue. By emphasizing process over product, my focus is to help the student place distractions and worrying in the background so they can play and create with present-centered awareness – the result is a well-rounded, calmly confident performer who actually enjoys the day to day process of playing an instrument!”

The Team

Miffy heads a team of experienced and qualified teachers.

Alina Makhina - Violin and Piano Tutor

Born in Russia, Alina came to the UK in 2008 to pursue her music studies at the Purcell School of Music in Watford. For many years Alina has developed her performing career which led to a number of performances across Russia and in Europe (Germany) and UK. She is a winner of a number of prestigious international competitions, and in the course of her musical development has studied with famous teachers including Erik Houston, Igor Petrushevski and Jack Liebeck, and has been chosen for participation in master classes with some incredible musicians (Maxim Vengerov, Yossi Zivoni, Ruth Waterman amongst others). 

Alina's teaching career began during her first year at the Royal Academy of Music where she was granted a full scholarship. Since then Alina has worked with countless children and adults of many ages and abilities; she has worked in a number of educational establishments, including music schools and academies. In 2014 Alina has been chosen to participate in an educational conference in London, where she presented the violin and led a workshop for children in primary schools. 


Alina's teaching technique is a unique combination of the various international teaching methods, and during her lessons, she concentrates on developing a positive attitude to playing a musical instrument as well as making sure that the musical development of her students is balanced and rounded. Alina offers violin, piano and music theory tuition to a professional level. 

Nina Leo – Piano Tutor

Nina Leo has performed internationally as a soloist and chamber musician and is a prizewinner of numerous festivals and competitions.. Nina has a broad spectrum of musical interests covering all genres and is active in many fields of the musical profession, including performance, education, and research.


Nina studied music at Cornell University, New York, as well as the Royal Academy of Music, where she gained both her BMus in Piano Performance with Honours, and her LRAM Teaching Diploma. Now with 20 years of teaching experience, Nina has successfully prepared students of all ages and levels for exams, auditions, competitions, and concerts. Her enthusiasm and passion for teaching enables her to ensure that each student will get a specifically tailored approach to encourage their musical development

Ella Bodeker - Singing Tutor


Ella Bodeker is a British New Zealand Soprano currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under the tutelage of Sarah Pring. After completing her undergraduate studies this July, Ella will take up a scholarship to continue her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a postgraduate course training as an early music soprano. Ella has performed with the GSMD opera course in the chorus for Tchaikovsky’s ‘Iolanta’, Poulenc’s ‘Diologues des Carmelites’ and Weber’s ‘Oberon’.

Roles include The Queen of the Night and Papagena from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’(GSMD), Dido in Purcell’s opera ‘Dido and Aeneas’ (Bradfield College), A Novice from Puccini’s ‘Suor Angelica’ (LBOpera) and Susanna from Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and Marzellina from Beetoven’s ‘Fidelio’ as part of operatic scenes at GSMD.

Ella holds the “Mark Milhoffer Singing Prize” (Bradfield College), the "Concordia Singing Prize"(RCMJD) “Reading's Young Musician of the Year 2011’’ (RSO) and was a finalist for the "Angela Bull" competition, and the "Courtney-Kenney, Association of English Singers and Speakers". As well as solo singing Ella regularly performs with the Vigala Singers.


Over the past 4 years Ella has worked with many students privately in her teaching practice in Ealing and with The London Youth Choir and The National Youth Choir of Great Britain. This includes leading workshops and one to one tuition for all types and genres of singing. She has also worked abroad, most recently with the WUPenguin charity to India. 

Bret Kean - Saxophone/Jazz Tutor


Bret graduated from the Guildhall School of Music, with studies in Jazz Performance and Arranging, Symphonic Clarinet and Composition and has freelanced widely in the areas of jazz, classical and theatre orchestras. He has composed music for film, television, radio and dance, and has over twenty years teaching experience as an instrumental teacher, coach and composition teacher.    


Bret has performed and recorded around the London jazz scene for thirty years with the UKs most distinguished artistes in leading jazz venues, clubs and festivals and leads his quartet and the Fragments & Gateways contemporary chamber jazz ensemble featuring musicians Alec Dankworth, John Horler, Ross Stanley, Ralph Salmins, Paul Clarvis, Malcolm Creese, Brigitte Beraha, Kenny Wheeler, Steve Waterman, Jim Mullen. Bret’s composition style combines elements of jazz and 20th century chamber music.


Master of Music, Composition – Surrey University

Certificate Advanced Studies, Jazz – Guildhall School Music

Associate Diploma, Clarinet - London College Music

Licentiate Diploma, Music Education - Trinity College

Sam Gardham - Guitar and Bass Guitar Tutor

Sam studied for a Higher Diploma in Music Performance at the Institute of Contemporary Music and since then has played and recorded with bands in a variety of styles, including Peruvian music, funk and soul, pop/rock (with Ben Lester, BBC Introducing featured artist) and jazz through his involvement with groups affiliated with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.  

All our teachers have a current, fully enhanced DBS

Amiran Zenaishvili - Piano Tutor

Amiran has performed as a concert soloist and in chamber music ensembles in public recitals and concerts in more than 10 countries all over the world including such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall in New York, NY, USA and Wigmore Hall in London, UK. In 2017 he completed his Undergraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music with the First Class Honours degree, and was selected to become a fellow of the Philharmonia Orchestra under their Emerging Artists Programme. He successfully combines his Postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music with extensive international performance work and teaching. Amiran also has a strong interest in conducting and historical keyboards. Amiran started his teaching work in June 2015 as piano teacher and chamber coach, and his students’ achievements include passing ABRSM exams (up to Grade 8) with distinction, receiving prizes at different festivals in the UK, and participation at international competitions. In April 2018 he was invited to conduct piano and chamber music masterclasses in Zacatecas University, Mexico. 



Royal Academy of Music:  MA (September 2017 - )

BMus (First Class Honours, September 2013 - July 2017)

LRAM teaching diploma (Distinction, November 2016).

Central Music School, Moscow, Secondary Vocational Education Diploma with Highest Honours

Andrew Sykes, BEd, MA, FVCM(Hons.), LTCL

A hugely experienced performer and teacher, Andrew’s guitar-playing covers all genres (from classical to jazz, blues and soul); he is also a pianist and organist.


His impressive career includes working with artists such as P.J.Proby, The Four Tops, The Detroit Emeralds, Trevor Horn, The Nolans, Elaine Delmar (jazz singer), and others. He has been the staff organist at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and St. John’s Minster, Preston, and has been the Director of Music at St. Mary’s Rickmansworth since 2001.

Alzbeta Turcanyiova – Singing and Piano Tutor

Currently pursuing Masters studies with a scholarship at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Alzbeta graduated from Leeds College of Music (BMus, Hons) under the tutelage of Lauren Kinsella. A versatile professional vocalist, Alzbeta specialises in improvisation and jazz, however is equally comfortable with classical, musical theatre and pop music repertoire.


Alzbeta is an experienced teacher and educator of both voice and piano. She offers classical, jazz, folk, musical theatre and pop singing tuition with a focus on improving vocal technique,

range, breathing, posture and intonation. She works with all age groups, and believes in using a fun, patient and caring approach to support her students. Alzbeta has sound experience in preparing students for ABRSM exams, and also offers theory lessons.

© 2018 Northwood Music Academy

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