About Me


Robert is a Doctor of music and an internationally recognised composer, musician and writer. After completing his PhD in music he established a successful private teaching practice in Stockport and South Manchester. His students and clients range from beginners (children and adults) right through to experienced professionals and teachers.

Robert has been teaching for over 20 years, both privately and as a University Lecturer. He has experience of preparing students for performances and auditions (for example, Chetham’s, Leeds Conservatoire, RNCM), and exams up to diploma level, with a 100% ABRSM examination pass rate (usually with distinction). Recent success stories include students who achieved 99 (out of 100) for ABRSM Grade 5 Theory and 146 (out of 150) for Piano Practical.

One of his students’ was invited to take part in a special concert organised by the ABRSM after they achieved one of the highest marks during the Spring period. Robert’s students have been successful prize winners in various music competitions and have attained excellent results during school and college examinations – for example, many have achieved A* in their GCSE music exams.

Lessons can be configured to support and complement work undertaken for GCSE and AS/A level music examinations etc. They can also be designed to improve general musicianship, including sight reading, aural skills, improvisation, and aspects of composition. Robert has had success with students of all ages and abilities, from 3 to 75.

Teaching methods are adapted to suit the student, involving an analysis of both the way a student learns music and the way that they perform. Strategies can then be developed to overcome specific musical and technical difficulties or to find a suitable approach to the music in question. In relation to this, Robert has an awareness of various relaxation techniques that can be used to enhance general pianistic technique. He is also able to help with issues of performance anxiety, and can suggest various strategies and techniques to reduce or minimise its effects. Aspects of sound production and quality of tone are also covered during lessons (Robert has a particular affinity with the Romantic and Impressionistic repertoire, especially the works of Chopin, Debussy and Scriabin).

As a composer, Robert is often very interested in the way that a specific piece of music has been constructed, providing a piece-by-piece analytical commentary for students, including background information on the composer and the context of the works composition. This helps to create an informed interpretation, including an understanding of both the architecture of a piece and the musical ideas contained within it, leading to a more effective communication of the music.

In addition to piano lessons, Robert offers tuition in composition, electronic music, music production, music history and music theory. He can work with any of the major communication platforms including FaceTime, Skype, Teams, WhatsApp, and Zoom. Lessons can also be conducted over the phone – Robert recently helped a student to achieve a distinction for ABRSM Grade 7 performance through regular phone lessons (without video). Full DBS certificate available upon request.

Professional Experience (selected):

  • Performances and broadcasts in approximately 30 countries worldwide, including presentations at major international events such as ACMC, ICMC, L’espace du Son, NIME, and Sonorities.
  • Collaborated with some of the leading performers in the fields of contemporary and experimental music.
  • Recordings available through CMMAS, Further Noise, Sonus, and Vox Novus.
  • Music purchased by the library of the Royal Northern College of Music
  • Writing published in various academic journals and proceedings: Dancecult, eContact!, eOREMA, the proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), and Sonic Ideas.
  • Served as an adjudicator and reviewer at International level (ICMC and 60×60)

Music Qualifications & Achievements:

  • BA Hons (1st Class) – specialising in solo piano performance and composition
  • M.Res composition (distinction) – received national AHRC award
  • PhD composition/musicology – received national AHRC award

Specialised piano training and experience (postgraduate level):

  • Studied privately at postgraduate level with Professor David Fanning (University of Manchester). David Fanning was taught by Sulamita Aronovsky, who studied with the renowned Russian pianist and teacher Alexander Goldenweiser.
  • Masterclass and private study with Roy Howat (Keyboard Research Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music), whose teachers include the celebrated Chopin interpreter and Ravel specialist Vlado Perlemuter.
  • Studied and consulted with Michael Bell (Director of Performance at Keele University), who was taught by Derryck Wyndham and Sulamita Aronovsky.
  • Winner of the Keele Concerto audition 2004.
  • Recorded performances and original music broadcast on BBC radio and internationally.
  • Experience of performing as a soloist, accompanist, and ensemble member in a diverse range of styles, including, for example, jazz/funk support for Jools Holland.
  • Member of the European Piano Teachers Association, Musicians Union, and Society of Authors.

© Robert Ratcliffe 2023


Manchester M22 5GU, UK



Instrument(s) Taught

Keyboard, Music History, Music Theory, Piano

Where do lessons take place?

Student's House, Online


Piano, Keyboard, Music History, Music Theory

Lesson Type

In-Person, Online

Lesson Prices

60 mins


30 mins


Contact Me

Get in Touch

Levels & Ages

Skill Levels Taught

Beginner (up to Grade 5), Intermediate (Grades 5-8), Advanced (Grade 8 and above), Professional Musicians/Teachers

Lesson Sizes

One-to-One, Group Lessons

Graded Exam Preparation

ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)

Professional Affiliations

European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA), Musician’s Union

When did you start teaching?


Genres Taught

Genres Taught

Classical Music, Electronic Music, Jazz, Pop



May 8, 2024

We employed Robert to prepare my boys two months before their Grade 7 Trinity exams. Both received distinction for their exams. They took online lessons with Robert.

We are satisfied with Robert’s teaching. He is a very knowledgeable and good teacher.

September 13, 2023

Rob has an excellent knowledge of music and is really passionate about teaching. My two daughters progressed fast both in piano grades and music theory because of his professional and brilliant teaching techniques.

Krish - parent
August 19, 2023

I have been having online lessons with Rob for a few years now and would recommend him as a piano teacher. His patience and understanding has been impeccable and his tutoring has taken me from a complete novice to a competent and confident piano player and certified to grade 2 in musical theory (with Distinction). Rob is definitely the teacher you want for piano lessons

Tom Student
June 26, 2023

Rob has been an outstanding teacher for my daughter for the last 4 years and she had gone from strength to strength. She finds the online lessons really easy and there has been no issues from moving from face to face to virtual, if anything it has allowed us more flexibility. She has really progressed under his tutorship and feels confident going into her exams. I would highly recommend Rob to anyone wanting piano lessons.

Nicki - parent
June 26, 2023

Rob has been a great teacher. At the start he asked what level I was (I’m a beginner) and what I wanted to get out of lessons (I don’t want to do grades currently). He then suggested books and pieces to achieve this. During lessons he provides really good constructive feedback on how to improve the pieces I’m playing and my technique. He also takes the time to explain musical theory and new concepts in a way that’s easy to understand. I feel I have improved week on week with his help.

David - student
June 26, 2023

He’s been teaching me for about 10 years and has been very informative, helpful and understanding throughout all that time. Had both in-person and virtual lessons and both have provided an enjoyable learning environment. He is very accommodating to all levels of piano experience.

Nathan - student
June 26, 2023

My fourteen years old son has had the privilege of learning piano under the tutelage of an exceptional instructor for more than six years. Throughout this transformative journey, Robert’s dedication and remarkable professionalism as a piano teacher helped my son a great deal in learning, playing and enjoying a range of different styles: classic, modern, and film music. It is with great pleasure that I share my experience and offer an enthusiastic recommendation for Robert. Five stars totally deserved!

Laurena - parent
June 26, 2023

Rob has taught our 3 children the piano. His calm encouragement and measured approach has resulted in many certificates and kids who genuinely enjoy music – the eldest is now a professional musician!

Mark - parent
June 26, 2023

Robert is an excellent teacher. He is patient & encouraging, giving me confidence to keep on going. He has identified interesting new pieces for me to practice and perfect and always has an anecdote on hand to help illuminate any points about the music or composer to help illustrate my learning. I decided to return to the piano after a 50 year break & was greatly relieved to find that learning the piano is now an enjoyable experience.

Katherine - student
May 11, 2023

It is a great pleasure to write this testimonial/reference for Robert Ratcliffe in his capacity of piano teacher. Rob has taught our son Ezra from grade 1 up to grade 8 and then diploma level. Rob has been a great teacher on all counts: topic expertise, reliability, and care.

He has enabled Ezra to obtain distinctions up to grade 8 and diploma. This was only possible thanks to Rob”s expertise in all areas of piano, music theory and general knowledge as well as examination content and preparations.

Rob came to our house to teach before covid. As covid started, Rob swiftly moved to online lessons, and we have continued with online lessons even after covid restrictions ended. This is because Rob is fully equipped (both with technology and ability) to deliver online lessons of the highest quality.

In addition, Rob has been very reliable and cared for Ezra’s success both in piano and other topics. For example, Rob helped prepare Ezra for a violin exam since his violin teacher was only preparing Ezra to play his pieces rather than preparing Ezra for his entire exam.

Given the above, I give Rob my highest and unreserved recommendation for both in person and online piano teaching.

Raphael - parent
February 27, 2023

I can recommend Robert Ratcliffe very highly. He is a fine pianist and composer. He taught my son piano for a few years and I was impressed by his rigour, patience and ability to communicate with children. He prepared my son well for ABRSM exams and for the Newcastle-under-Lyme Music Festival. He also helped to get him ready for the Junior Royal Northern College of Music audition. Robert is able to teach technique and musicianship to a high standard and he does it with empathy and understanding.

Professor Barbara Kelly Director of Research Royal Northern College of Music RNCM - parent
February 27, 2023

Robert has been teaching my daughter for about three years. He’s always been patient and clear in his approach. My daughter has thrived as Robert has always worked with her tastes and preferences, plus his passion and knowledge for the piano and music in general are evident. I can heartily recommend his services.

Will - parent student
February 27, 2023

Both my son and I play piano and have had lessons from Rob over many years. Rob is a very rare combination: a true musician (and indeed composer), a first-rate pianist and a great teacher. Rob will push you to improve and to think hard about what you are playing. But he’s also very practical. He will clarify how to use time effectively, what to focus on and where to go next. If grade-achievement is what you are after, my son in particular has powered impressively through his exams under Rob’s guidance (with distinctions). Equally, if you just want to improve and learn (like me), Rob has real insight, encouragement and wise advice on how to move on.

Stephen - parent student
February 27, 2023

We were in a difficult situation and asked Robert to teach our daughters with just a few weeks before their grade 2 and grade 5 exams. He made a very detailed initial assessment that allowed for focus to be directed to specific areas to allow them to successfully take the exams. We find him to be very professional, punctual, detailed and competent. He is a good communicator whom conveys his teaching clearly, concisely and, most importantly, understandably. On top of everything else, he is a great musician. We are grateful for him teaching our daughters.

John - parent
February 27, 2023

Rob has taught my 12 year old twins for the past two years. His approach is very professional and he has supported my children in everyway possible, pushing them to learn something new everytime he gives them a lesson. He motivates them to pay attention to musical detail such as articulation and dynamics, encourages frequent practice and makes music a fun and an enjoyable experience. He drives them to reach the best of their abilities and I am so impressed by the way he challenges and inspires them at the same time. I cannot recommend Rob highly enough.

Dr Fernando - parent
February 27, 2023

Rob has been teaching my Son for about 2 years. During this time, Rob prepared my Son to go up two grades. Rob prepared my Son extremely well for the exams (e.g. arranging mock exams) and enabled him to obtain distinction at both exams via his expert knowledge and teaching. Rob was also able to teach a wide range of music in between exam preparation periods and made sure to keep my Son engaged and motivated (e.g. by varying music pieces or practice routines). We are very pleased with Rob and recommend him without reservations.

Professor Hirschi - parent
February 27, 2023

We have been moving countries and met different piano teachers from different nationalities, but Rob has been THE one to be able to transform piano learning / boring into piano / pleasure. For my son playing the piano was a burden at the beginning, but Rob has been able to take a totally different approach to his learning. Rob is looking at the whole picture, the personality of the student, and with that in mind he supports, guides, and encourages the learner to finally come to their goal. With Rob’s approach it is never wrong whatever you play, he always find the positive in the situation and focuses on it to make the situation evolves in the right direction. The pupils attitude and playing gets stronger and more stable with time, the student gains in confidence and is encouraged to make choices. Now all my 3 children play piano, encouraged by the others and I don’t need to ask them to practice, the piano is in the living room and it has a natural place in the family’s every day life. Music is fun! I am truly and profoundly happy we had the chance to meet Rob, full of energy and deeply engaged in the piano teaching. He made my dream come true: see my children enjoy the music. Thank you Rob.

Aude - parent
February 27, 2023

My daughter has been a pupil of Rob’s for almost 7 years. She has made incredible progress and gained confidence under his tuition and always avidly looks forward to her lessons. Rob is an excellent teacher who quickly puts his students at ease and actively encourages questions and discussion. He is incredibly patient and quick to offer praise and encouragement. With his support, advice and guidance my daughter has received consistently high merit and distinction marks for all her ABRSM grade exams, a grade A at Music GCSE and achieved 1st place for her performance at a recent Music Festival. We were incredibly fortunate when Rob was recommended to us and have no hesitation in recommending him to others. He is an extraordinarily talented musician whose love of the piano is evident. It is wonderful that it has inspired my daughter and it is such a joy and pleasure to hear her play so beautifully.

Julie - parent
February 27, 2023

Robert Ratcliffe has taught my teenage daughters (and me) piano for a couple of years now. I’m a professional musician with thirty years experience, but nevertheless I’ve been impressed by Rob’s patient, good-humoured and encouraging tuition. We all got distinctions in our ABRSM exams, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to others.

Nick - parent student
February 27, 2023

As a piano teacher myself, I find it impossible to teach my 9 year old son! Rob has been teaching Dylan for a year and Dylan has made great progress during this time. Rob’s patience, teaching skills and enthusiasm have worked really well. Dylan recently got 144 [out of 150] in his Grade 1 exam and is keen to progress to Grade 2. So, thank you again Rob for all your hard work and I have no hesitation in recommending Rob as a Piano Teacher!

Tracey - parent

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