About Miss Anna C Smith

Miss Anna C Smith is an instrumental and vocal teacher, choir director, and music practitioner based in Darlington, County Durham.

Musical beginnings

Anna grew up in Darlington, and had both an aptitude and love for music from a young age. At age seven she began to learn the violin with George Wood, in a varied approach which started with a Suzuki-inspired class, and went on to include both classical and folk training - enjoying playing in orchestras up to county level, as well as the Darlington Folk Fiddle Group. She had her first piano lesson a few years later, with Margaret Bowden. Anna remained with her first teachers until she moved away to begin a BA in Music at the University of York, in 2002, having reached Grade 8 level on both instruments. 

Clockwise from bottom left (ages approximate!): playing with Darlington Folk Fiddle Group (age 8); orchestra Christmas "decorate your instrument" competition (age 9); playing piano at Darlington High Scorers' Concert (age 11); performing at secondary school leavers' concert (age 15); same.

University years 

Whilst studying at York, Anna continued to receive tuition on piano and violin. She began to focus her studies on aspects of music education, receiving training from community music expert Dr Bruce Cole (and other experienced tutors) across a range of areas, including classroom music, workshop skills, and working with Early Years. During this time she also further developed an interest in composing and arranging music, particularly songs for children and choirs. 

Getting started

It was whilst still a student that Anna taught her first piano lessons, in 2004. This was initially planned to be one-off experience, but she soon found that both she and her pupil thoroughly enjoyed the lessons, and she went on to teach a few other students during the next couple of years (and, of course, many more since!) She also had her first taster of choral direction around this time, as she began to lead her church singing group. Her first involvement in primary school music, having begun even earlier, at the age of sixteen, continued throughout her time at university - leading workshops, choirs, and a school production. 

Music For All Darlington 

In 2007, Anna returned to Darlington, where she is now an established teacher and music practitioner. Currently she spends her week teaching piano, violin, singing, and music theory lessons, as well as directing three choirs: Crescendo Junior Choir, The Crescendo Singers, and Mowden Junior School Choir. She also puts on various events and workshops for adults and children throughout the year. Over the past fifteen years Anna has undertaken various other ventures, including creating and running the Music Theory For Choirs course; teaching music, running choirs and staging productions in local primary schools; as well as working with local adult choirs - most notably The Richardson Singers, where Anna was Deputy Musical Director for a number of years until stepping down in 2019.  

Conducting The Richardson Singers and Crescendo Youth Choir, July 2018 

Anna is DBS checked, and has undergone training in child protection and safeguarding. She is a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and a registered applicant with the three major music exam boards: Trinity College London, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and London College of Music (though students who don't wish to take exams are just as welcome). She is also a registered teacher-assessor for ABRSM Music Medals, which gives a great alternative option for her violin students.  

Whether it's one to one or a whole school, a 4 year old or a 74 year old, Anna just loves teaching music, and feels privileged to have such a fantastically rewarding job. 

Further Training

Anna wants to be the best teacher and director she can be, and so is always looking for opportunities to learn and improve. In 2013 she enjoyed completing a choral conducting course with Sing for Pleasure, then 0ver the following year, a fantastic music education course, run by The Voices Foundation. This is where she was first introduced to the Kodály method - and since then, she has never looked back! This methodology now underpins her approach in one-to-one lessons, in the classroom, and in choral settings. 

In 2017, Anna was delighted to attend a piano pedagogy course run by internationally acclaimed teacher, Irina Gorin, whose books and approach Anna uses with her piano students.  

Anna and Irina

In addition to these longer courses, she also enjoys attending regular workshops and training days, which most recently have included a vocal pedagogy workshop with leading expert Jenevora Williams, and further Kodály education training with Lucinda Geoghegan (from NYCOS)

In 2012 Anna began having vocal tuition with local teacher, Nikki Lycett-Findlay, and in 2017 she took her Grade 8 exam and was delighted to pass with distinction. 

Beyond the teaching room

As she continues with vocal tuition and working towards further qualifications, Anna finds being a pupil herself - as well as trying to fit piano, violin and singing practice into a busy schedule! - helps her to keep a real understanding of what it's like for her own students. 

From 2007 - 2019, Anna enjoyed singing with local ladies choir, The Richardson Singers, with whom she performed regular solos. 

In 2016 Anna was delighted to be asked to join band "The Music Will Tell You" as their fiddle player.  The band come together to play for Scottish dancing and ceilidhs, and Anna loves playing with them! 

The Music Will Tell You - we are happier than we look!