I first met Suzie in the role of coach and conductor of the Junior Academy Chamber Orchestra, and I remember wishing she could be my teacher very soon after the first few rehearsals. There are so many things about Suzie that remind me why music really matters, and I can’t put into words how happy I am now that I’ve started having lessons with her. Suzie’s generosity is limitless – she puts so much time and energy into getting to know you as an individual, and helping you acquire the technical tools to express what you want to say musically. Suzie is the first teacher I’ve had who perfectly balances rigorous detail in her feedback (without ever overwhelming you with information) with always putting the bigger picture at the centre. Technical difficulties and solutions are approached as a discussion rather than one-size-fits-all type solutions being prescribed, which makes a massive difference to the level of thought and care I want to put into my individual practice. I can now enjoy the process of practicing as well as the end result, and feel so much happier with a violin in my hand than I did a few months ago.
Suzie is much more than a great teacher – she’s one of the most wonderful people I know, and as well as being musically reinvigorated after every lesson, I’m inspired by her personality and boundless enthusiasm. I’m yet to travel home from a lesson without a spring in my step!
Charlotte Barbour-Condini – BBC Young Musician Woodwind Finalist Winner, UCL Undergraduate
Suzie was recommended to me by a fellow violinist, and after my first lesson it was absolutely clear why I had been so encouraged to have her as my teacher. In my eleven years of playing the violin, it has never brought me so much pleasure, and I owe so much of this to Suzie. It may be cliché to use the word inspirational, but I do indeed leave every lesson inspired to work hard to improve. Her focus on technique complements and is perfectly balanced with the importance she places on musical interpretation, and no lesson is ever long enough to learn all that Suzie has to teach. Alongside the invaluable musical education that I am lucky enough to receive each lesson, Suzie is also a really amazing person, who always makes me feel welcome and at home, taking a keen interest in my welfare. This is not only incredibly kind but has a genuine musical benefit too: I always find myself wanting to improve as much for Suzie as I do for myself, because I know just how much she cares! I am truly lucky to have Suzie as my teacher.
Alexander Dawkins – Kings College London Undergraduate
I have been studying with Susan for more than a year, and I feel that in our short time together, she has completely transformed my playing. She pushes me to do the best that I can with every piece with boundless energy and enthusiasm, and I walk out of every lesson feeling inspired and eager to do more. Beyond this, her musicianship is impeccable and she has helped me to develop not only my violin playing, but also my appreciation and enjoyment of music in general.
Susan truly embodies the expertise, patience, understanding, kindness, and passion for teaching that all music teachers should aspire to have!
Daniel Brooks – Grade 8 Gold Medallist & Junior Academy Student
Susan Collier is an extraordinary musician and human being. The standard and quality of the teaching and playing in the ensembles which she conducts, sings or plays in at Mill Hill County High School is something not often seen anywhere. Our son has had the privilege of being taught by her in so many different ways: conducted by her in the Chamber Orchestra, playing alongside her in the Vivaldi Players chamber ensemble, and singing under her directorship in the fabulous Barbershop group. The growth and blossoming we have witnessed in his musicianship is a direct result of her fabulous teaching and ability to get the very best out of her pupils.
Rosalie Segal, mother of Jacob Dean
As a student of Suzie’s at MHCHS, I have experienced her positive, welcoming and kind-hearted personality and coupled with her incredible attention to musical detail this makes her a truly remarkable teacher and musician. All of the musical groups at the school under her direction, have been transformed by her incredible ability to encourage improvement and her passion for music which she has easily transferred to all of us.
Jacob Dean – LSE Undergraduate & cellist
It is so brilliant to have a teacher like Suzie, who performs regularly – It is wonderful to be able to go to her performances and learn how she conducts herself on stage. Not only is Suzie a wonderful teacher, but also a fantastic performer. Seeing the way she commands the stage has helped me to develop my own performing skills and given me the encouragement to enjoy playing in front of an audience. She has made me realise that through good technique I can become a more musical player. I really feel that she has taken the time to understand the way I like to work and pushes me just at the right time. Suzie is a wonderful mentor and has the balance just right to get the best out of people.
Melinda Blackman – Kings College London Graduate
Susan has always been exquisitely attuned to the person making music. I’ve seen this in the performance classes with all of her students, as well as in her role as a conductor, and it has been an enormously moving and enriching experience for me, as a parent of one of her ex-students
Dvorah Kadish, mother of Mayah Kadish – RAM Postgraduate
Susan is the most inspirational woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She always has something exceptional to give. She offers me a little piece of magic every time I see her, and consequently she has helped me tremendously with my technique. I feel I have come such a long way in such a short length of time. Although I have so much more to work on with my playing, having had Susan to guide me during my years at Junior Academy was a true inspiration.
DeeDee Roberts – RNCM Graduate
I feel so lucky to have Suzie as my A-level Music teacher, and to be part of the Mill Hill County Barbershop group. She both inspires and pushes me to be the best I can be, and her respect for young people is unparalleled. When directing the Barbershop group, she combines hard work with a sense of belonging and joy. I’ve never met anyone quite like her, and there is no one I would recommend more as a teacher and enabler than this wonderful human being.
Scott Folan – Actor, Musician
Suzie is like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, only a bit younger and slimmer! Together, as mother and daughter, we go to Suzie’s violin lessons, and her magical teaching inspires Lilly to want to be the best musician she can be. Suzie never compromises her teaching: lessons are always challenging, but by following her Lilly is learning how rewarding it is to work hard. She is definitely improving her technique and whole musical awareness, and hopes that in the end, she will be able to play at the Prince’s palace!
Lilly (student at Primary Academy) & Kumiko Kurata
Suzie is one of the few people whose inspiration has shaped my life. Her skill both in the peculiarities of music, and as a teacher who really cares for and understands her students, is unbelievable. My musicianship has developed in ways I could never have foreseen and her support for my dreams – and realising those in a practical way – has been ongoing for a number of years now, and unstinting. My time with her has been more valuable than I can say. Thank you Suzie
Ben Markovic – A level student, pianist and member of Barbershop at MHCHS
When my son Richard began lessons with Suzie, he had studied for eight years with three different teachers. As soon as he started learning with Suzie our whole family could see the positive effects; in the months since, we have begun to understand the reasons for these changes.
Richard now approaches his lessons with real enthusiasm. He looks forward to each one and often as he heads up to London for his weekly lesson he says that it seems no time at all since his last one. He enjoys sharing information about his lessons and it is lovely to see him smile whenever he speaks of them. He takes real joy in his learning and playing and we have found our home has become a more peaceful and harmonious place as Richard has taken on personal responsibility for his practice. He has become an entirely self-propelling and independent learner. In fact he has become so independent that we now only see him play at performances! It has been remarkable to see the growing confidence and maturity in his playing.
So what is behind all these changes for the better? Richard has responded incredibly positively to the bundle of talent, energy and personal qualities that together equals Susan. She is a wonderful musician with acute intelligence and is able to communicate very effectively in teaching her skills, but this is only a very small part of the picture. More important for Richard is her personal warmth, her positive energy and “can-do” attitude to life. She has a wealth of understanding of human nature, and because it goes hand-in-hand with a natural curiosity, Suzie has come to know Richard very well. She is interested in him as a whole person, not only a violinist. Moreover, as she has made it her business to know our family as well, she has a broad understanding of his life and how best to communicate with and motivate him. She seeks and finds the best in Richard and has encouraged him to find and develop it in himself.
All of this is possible because Suzie is a person of such integrity and generosity. She is totally committed to any person or project that she takes on, and cares about every aspect of their development. She gives a lot of herself in her teaching and I believe that it is this two-way exchange that is the essence of her success with Richard.
He is privileged indeed.
Louise Tuckwell – mother of Richard Tuckwell, Undergraduate at Princeton University
For me, eating a juicy hamburger is my idea of a real treat. If you imagine multiplying that experience by 10, that is how I would describe each lesson with Suzie. Her supportive teaching is completely beyond expectations. Her lessons are extremely exciting and interesting. Whatever the weather, I am always inspired by every word and thought. As a young violinist, the last thing I want is a teacher challenging me in ways that I cannot relate to. Suzie is different. She understands how one can easily get stressed so she teaches me in a way that I can enjoy myself, but can still get the message.
Every lesson, I feel that I’m getting closer to each composer as I play and learn with Suzie, whether it is Mozart, Sarasate, Bartok or Bach. Suzie has given me a broad imagination to explore music in my own way.
Towa Matsuda, Junior Academy, Westminster School Music Scholar
Susan is an utterly inspiring chamber music coach. She combines infectious enthusiasm with a deep musicality, intimate knowledge of the repertoire, and the rare ability to transform the playing of an amateur group by just the right combination of explaining and demonstrating.
Andrew Fisher – physicist and amateur violinist
Susan is the first teacher I have had where I feel that I genuinely get something useful out of every lesson, and this is partly because she helps me to understand the nature of any problem myself, rather than merely dictating what needs to be done. The detail that Susan goes into in all areas of my playing has changed my attitude to my practice and I feel that thanks to her I have become more confident in my playing. On top of all that, Susan has re-inspired me when it comes to music, and I am enjoying playing now more than ever.
Neil Amin-Smith – Clean Bandit 2008-16, Cambridge Graduate
As a string player, the sensitivity, discipline and attention to detail I learned in Suzie’s string ensembles has not only helped in my professional work with the likes of Courtney Pine, Gerard Presencer, Robert Miles, Carleen Anderson and Talvin Singh, but it also gives me a deep sense of satisfaction that, as an instrumental teacher, I now have an opportunity to pass these fundamental characteristics on to another generation, both in their music and away from their instruments. A truly remarkable woman and an inspirational teacher.
Darren Taylor – professional jazz double bass player
Suzie has been a supporting, affirming presence in the background of every musical trial, test of confidence, or performance I’ve experienced. Music is a fun, vital thing. A rehearsal with Suzie wakes you up to the intricacies of a piece. She shows how your input can change the way the piece is played. Her enthusiasm, directness and energy, mean that the particular piece being played becomes everyone’s focus; its performance is a shared goal. All players naturally want to give their best.
Some specific lessons remembered:
- Get a good perspective: Balance the performance/exam/practice you are doing against the rest of the day, week, year, life and you’ll see you can get through it.
- Your take: Find out the things that matter to you in life or what you like and don’t like as you experience them. What do you like and dislike in the music you hear and play?
- Background: Look behind the piece you’re playing. Listen to other versions. Find your own voice and your own interpretation.
The confidence I gained through working through musical challenges with Suzie as a guide has spilled over into every experience of work and play.
Ben McCabe – community and gigging musician
What can I say about this incredible woman? It’s hard to put into words. Suzie is more than a teacher – she is an inspiration. You only need to spend 10 minutes with her to understand why she is what she is, how she has achieved what she has, and why she is so highly respected within the professional circuit.
Suzie truly is the complete musician, but her greatest qualities to me lie in how she is as a person. Go and find out for yourself…
Russell Stowe – Woodbridge Violins