Community Music Whickham & Swalwell is run by an enthusiastic group of professional musicians and community stakeholders.
Although his degree is in Art History, John Finnon has played and taught music his entire career, mainly with Gateshead Education Authority where he was Head of Strings until 2014. He now teaches privately and at Newcastle University, as well as with CMWS which he helped to found.
Originally a cello and Double bass specialist, John’s love of early music, led him to the lute repertoire he specialises in with his guitar teaching, and also to the viol which he has enabled so many adults and young people to play.
Many students who have had instruments on long term loan from him will attest to his accomplishment as an instrument maker, a hobby originating he says, “because I could not afford all the instruments I needed,” but has more recently expanded, leading him to make copies of rare 16th century instruments from collections in London and Venice.
Originally from Worcestershire, Neil moved to the North East in 2006 to study music at Newcastle University, specialising in composition, conducting and analysis. He spent time studying at the Gothenburg Academy of Music and Drama, Sweden, before returning to Newcastle to complete his masters with a full scholarship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Since graduating, he has taught at the Royal Grammar School and is currently Director of Music at Dame Allan's Schools.
Since finishing university six years ago, Anna Jackson has worked as a violin teacher and performer and also teaches classical guitar. As a teacher she places an emphasis on performance and violin technique in her lessons. She has built up a large teaching practice in both Gateshead and rural Northumberland where she lives. As a performer she plays as part of the Jazz quintet Fugue State, on violin and vocals, as well as performing the classical violin repertoire as both a soloist, and as part of a violin and guitar duo.
John is Artistic Adviser to CMWS and a Trustee. His career has included lecturing appointments at all North Eastern Universities, heading Gateshead’s outstanding Music Service for over 30 years, and performing throughout Europe and the Americas as a specialist performer on period keyboard instruments.
He is active as a composer; his output includes symphonies and concerti, children’s musicals, orchestral movements and many songs both for adults and younger children, many of which were published.
A student at Newcastle University, John also has a postgraduate qualification for research into early 18th Century Italian keyboard music. He has recorded 5 LPs (not 78s), 5 cassettes and 11 CDs, mainly with his ensemble Concert Royal but also as a soloist.
He directed the Gateshead Youth Orchestra for over twenty years, organising 19 overseas tours as well as many events in the North of England in such prestigious venues as The Sage Gateshead, The Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle, Gibside Chapel in Rowlands Gill and, of course, Whickham St. Mary the Virgin Parish Church.
An examiner for the ABRSM for over two decades, he was course leader for the CT ABRSM diploma in venues as diverse as Sheffield, Gateshead and Edinburgh. Examining work takes him regularly to Ireland, Scotland and the North of England.
Hobbies include travel, football, reading, collecting and restoring old pianos and looking after three grandchildren, all of whom show musical potential!