Former Tutors

Recent tutors

Voice tutor Alison McDonald, who retired from NESMS in October 2021 after 30 years of devoted teaching, studied singing with Elisabeth Izatt whilst a trainee teacher in Aberdeen. Further studies with Raimund Herincx led to professional singing career and appearances as guest soprano with oratorio and orchestral groups, bands, choirs, and strathspey and reel societies in Scotland; and with male voice choirs in England. She regularly performs lieder and has sung many leading soprano roles in opera. She has sung at Pitlochry Festival, Ruthven Festival of Music, appeared at Dundee Rep with three tenors from Maggio Musicale, Florence and performed on many occasions in the splendour of Glamis Castle.

Jean and Peter Webster
Singing tutors Jean Webster and her husband Peter, who retired from NESMS in June 2019, were and are 'weil kent' faces on the North East of Scotland classical music scene, singing solo for local choral societies and in their own recital trio. Both Jean and Peter were brought up in Dundee and it was from that city's Harris Academy that Jean went to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to take a three-year teaching and performance diploma. After raising a family she studied further with Raimund Herincx - as did Peter, later on - before being invited (now more than thirty years ago) to become a singing teacher at the School. Peter joined her in 2012 after taking early retirement from a career in financial services, having studied first with John Carol Case, then Elizabeth Izatt, and finally with Raimund Herincx. Memorable pupils include Lisa Milne, with whom Jean worked closely before Lisa left for RSAMD and an international singing career.

Alan WattSenior singing tutor Alan Watt retired from NESMS in 2017. He was born in Aberdeen and studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) where he still teaches. He has sung principal roles in many of the major British and European opera houses and has appeared at festivals throughout the UK.

Gillian FindlayViolin tutor Gillian Findlay ended a long and distinguished association with NESMS in January 2016.

Her career has included playing in most of the major symphony and chamber orchestras of London including LSO both in live performance and in the recording studio and as guest leader in many orchestras at home and abroad.

Lizzie DavisFrench horn tutor Elizabeth (Lizzie) Davis, head of horn at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and principal horn of Manchester Camerata for 10 years, taught at NESMS from 2004 till 2015.  She plays with the Lancashire Sinfionetta and has a duo partnership with pianist David Lloyd. She is also horn tutor at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music.

Sue BaxendaleHorn tutor Sue Baxendale, Section Principal at Scottish Opera since 1996, and horn tutor at the Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, taught briefly at NESMS from 2015 until early 2017.  She is currently the Education and Outreach Officer for Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) for whom she has devised and led numerous projects for schools, early years and community groups.

Clarinet tutor Alison WallerAlison Waller trained at the Royal College of Music, London, before developing her career as a free-lance clarinettist with many of the major London orchestras, including the BBC Welsh Orchestra, Ballet Rambert, Royal Festival Ballet and English National Ballet.  She retired in June 2015.

Until his retirement in June 2013 Visiting Professor Raimund Herincx (seen here in 1991 with Roger Williams)Raimund Herincx was the School’s longest serving tutor, having been senior voice coach and singing tutor for over 30 years.  A Londoner by birth, he received his early training in Belgium and Italy before making his debut at Covent Garden.  In the early 1970s Raimund went on to sing Wotan in Wagner’s Der Ring des Niebelungen, a role for which he became justly celebrated.  He also became a regular at the Metropolitan Opera house in New York and was associated closely with the North West Pacific Festival, Seattle and San Francisco opera companies. Raimund died in February 2018.

Ifor James, the legendary horn player, was Visiting Professor from 1980 until his death in December 2004.  For a biographical sketch and appreciations by fellow musicians see The Horn Player vol. 2 no. 1 (2005).

Internationally celebrated guitarrist Gilbert Biberian was Professor of Guitar at Trinity College of Music between 1988 and 1996 and guitar tutor at NESMS from July 2000 until June 2005.


Donald MaxwellOccasional stagecraft tutor Donald Maxwell retired from NESMS in 2018. He was born in Perth and studied and studied singing with the retired Joseph Hislop.  He made his debut with Scottish Opera in 1976 and has since sung with all the major British Opera companies, at the BBC Proms and abroad at La Scala Milan, Vienna Staatsoper, The Metropolitan Opera New York, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, Théâtre Musical de Paris and Salzburg Easter Festival.

John GracieTrumpet tutor John Gracie ended a long and distinguished association with NESMS in September 2016. For over 28 years he was Principal Trumpet with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and in great demand as a guest Principal Trumpet with all the major orchestras. He was also for many years Professor of Trumpet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD).

Double Bass tutor David Inglis who taught at NESMS from 1991 until April 2017, studied at what is now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before joining the Scottish National Orchestra (now RSNO) in 1976 and becoming Principal Double Bass in 1978.

Ruth BlackSinging tutor and well-known Scottish mezzo Ruth Black, who retired in June 2012, studied first at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with Winifred Busfield, and then at NESMS with Raimund Herincx.  For several years she sang with the Castalian Singers, and even while at NESMS found time to continue her concert, recital and oratorio work throughout Scotland.

Donald HawksworthOrgan tutor Donald Hawksworth, who died in March 2012, came to Aberdeen from Yorkshire via the Royal College of Music.   He taught music at Aberdeen Grammar School from 1956 to 1973 and was Music Adviser to the Education Authority for the Aberdeen area from 1973 to 1983.  After early retirement he continued his musical activities as a pianist and organist, giving numerous recitals in the North East of Scotland and further afield; while as an examiner for the Royal Schools of Music he travelled widely both in the UK and abroad.

Until his death in October 2010, Visiting Professor David Nicholson David Nicholsonwas one of our longest-serving tutors, and one of Britain's most-respected flautists and flute teachers. Not only did he have a major influence on Scotland's musical scene for almost half a century but his former pupils now play in orchestras around the world.

Oboe tutor Anne Rankin (now Mrs Anne MacLeod), who left us in 2007, has enjoyed a varied career.  As well as teaching and chamber and solo performing, she has worked with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.

Paul AndersonAlthough still in his early thirties, Paul Anderson was already something of an icon in Scotland when he came to NESMS to teach Scottish Fiddle in 2006. A regular on Scottish television and radio, his main interest lies in the performance and composition of traditional Scottish fiddle music, and he has toured extensively both at home and abroad.

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