Althea Talbot-Howard
Oboe, Oboe d'Amore & Cor Anglais Soloist


A dedicated teacher with 18 years' experience, Althea aims to open up the world of classical music to her pupils by striving for the highest standards of performance through both individual lessons and a broader range of musical activities. These can include Summer holiday courses, group visits to concerts in London, and solo performances at concerts in a nearby church. In addition, some pupils are also entered in competitive festivals, which give them further performing experience. Pupils who wish to do so are entered for Associated Board or Trinity Guildhall grade exams. Through this wide range of activities, pupils have the opportunity to develop their talent and character, and to increase their love and understanding of music.

Individual Lessons

Lessons last 30, 45 or 60 minutes depending on age and ability. There are approximately 40 lessons per annum, divided into three terms of 12-14 lessons each. Owing to the variation in school holidays in the different boroughs, and the requirements of adult pupils, there will be no half term holidays until further notice. If pupils prefer not to have lessons during half-term, they must inform Althea of this prior to the end of the previous term, before the billing letters are sent out.

Adult Learners

As well as teaching children, Althea welcomes adult pupils who want to fulfil their musical dreams and interests. However, preference will be given to re-starters over complete beginners. It is preferred that adults should either have studied an instrument in childhood (the instrument need not be the same as the one the pupil now wishes to study), or should currently be active in some area of amateur or semi-professional music-making. The same degree of commitment and practice is expected of adult pupils as younger ones, and the same right is reserved to cease giving lessons, should lesson preparation regularly be insufficient.

Associated Board & Trinity Guildhall Exams: First-Class Results!

Students are encouraged to take grade exams if they wish, but this is in no way compulsory. The Associated Board centre for the area is at St. Paul's Church, Burges Road, East Ham, and the Trinity centre is at Morley College in Lambeth. A professional accompanist will be provided for each examination session. In order to maintain the highest standard and safeguard results, pupils are not permitted to make their own arrangements.

Some past results

Distinctions: ABRSM Oboe Advanced Certificate; Grade 2 Violin (141); Grades 2 & 8 Oboe (140); Grade 1 Piano (136 & 131); Grade 1 Violin (135); Grade 2 Violin (133); Grades 4 & 5 Oboe (131); Grade 7 Oboe (130); Grade 2 Oboe (130); Grade 2 Recorder (130); Grade 1 Theory (97); Grade 5 Theory (90)

Trinity Guildhall Initial Violin (94); Grade 1 Violin (90)

Merits: ABRSM Grades 1 & 2 Recorder (128); Grade 7 Oboe (127); Grades 1, 2 & 3 Violin (127); Grade 4 Violin (126); Grades 2 & 3 Oboe (126); Grade 2 Piano (122); Grade 8 Singing (120); Grade 5 Theory (87)

Trinity Guildhall Initial Piano (80); Grade 8 Oboe (78); Initial Violin (75)

Music Festival Placings

Southend Festival, November 2009
Ayomide Lawal 1st Prize, Violin 9 years & under Set Work Class
Ayomide Lawal 1st Prize, Violin 9 years & under Own Choice Class
Ayomide Lawal 1st Prize, Violin & Viola Grade 1 Class

Stratford and East London Festival, February 2005
Avalon Rabey 1st Prize, Grades 1-3 Class (Oboe)
Malique Broome & Sonali Pabari:
Challenge Cup (1st Prize), Junior Chamber Music 10 years and under

Southend Festival, November 2004
Sonali Pabari 1st Prize, Violin Novice Class
Una Fahey 3rd Prize, Solo Singing Class, age 13-15 years

Part-time Teaching Positions:

Some of the teaching positions Althea has occupied include Harpenden Musicale from 1994-2002, Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood from 1995-6, Guildford Musicale Summer School from 1995-8 and London Borough of Brent Saturday School from 1996-7. She has given masterclasses to undergraduate and postgraduate oboe students at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne in 2003, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2000.

Police Check for Work with Children

Althea has been police-checked and cleared to work with children by the London Borough of Brent and by North Hertfordshire Council.

Terms and Conditions

Payment Arrangements and Refunds
Lessons are to be paid for half-termly - 6, 7 or 8 lessons - in advance, or termly, if you prefer. Lessons missed by pupils are non-refundable, no matter what the cause. If I am unwell and have to cancel a lesson, the money for the lesson concerned will either be carried forward to the next term, or a refund given at the end of term, as you prefer. Alternatively, you may be offered a make-up lesson in the holidays if time permits. I require half a term's notice of cessation of lessons, or that half-term will be payable in full. Please make every effort to pay promptly at the first lesson of each half-term, as late payment makes the accounting complicated. Payment should be sent through the post if the pupil has missed that week's lesson. A reminder for the second payment of term will be sent out by email.

Rescheduling of Lessons
If you have a diary conflict, or your child is ill so that you have to miss a lesson, you will not be able to reschedule your lesson under any circumstances. You will simply have to forfeit the lesson that day. This is because the size of my teaching practice makes rescheduling impossible. This applies to all situations, for example family or health crises, hospital appointments, transport difficulties, extreme weather conditions, school trips or competing educational commitments such as lectures or seminars. If you think that your lesson time is going to lead to ongoing problems or clashes, please let me know asap, and I will try to change your slot on a permanent basis. I would be grateful for everyone's full cooperation with this policy, so that there will not be any disputes.

Term Dates, Half-Terms & Billing Arrangements
Each term will run in accordance with the Barking and Dagenham school calendar. Lessons continue over the half-term school holiday week in order to encourage continuity in study, and for the benefit of adult and private school pupils, who have different holiday dates. If you do not wish to attend during this week, please let me know three weeks before the end of the previous term, and you will not be billed for that lesson.

If I do not see the parents of a pupil under the age of 18 at the lesson, communication with parents will be via the pupil's notebook. It is the parent's responsibility to check this notebook every week. If a pupil under the age of 18 requests an extra lesson, this must be arranged by their parents. No arrangements will be entered into directly with pupils of any age whose parents fund their lessons.

I reserve the right not to continue giving lessons at any point, without giving notice, should the pupil's commitment to the teaching process be insufficient, or should I decide that private lessons are not in my opinion the correct medium for the particular abilities of the pupil. Please note that in the case of persistent insufficient practice, pupils may be immediately dismissed at my discretion if they have not responded to repeated rebukes about poor practice levels. Similarly, any serious disciplinary issues may also be dealt with in the same manner. In these two cases, a refund will be given for any outstanding lessons.


For information on rates and availability, contact me.