Tim Keech

Hull School of Performance Art’s guitar specialist Tim Keech has decades of experience as a lecturer, tutor and professional musician. He ranks flexibility almost as highly as the art and craft of performance for musical artists.

And within our Faculty of Arts, fractional Music lecturer Tim specialises in theory and performance practice.

His teaching career includes teaching music and physics in schools; running his own music school in Spring Bank, Hull; teaching guitar at the University of Hull; and lecturing at Hull School of Performance Arts, where he has taught since 1997. Tim has a BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering from the University of Leeds, a PGCE and an MMus in Music Composition from the University of Hull.

But music performance has been a constant throughout Tim’s career.

“A gig has been part of my way of making a living for the past 20 years,” he says. “It’s a day at the office for me, you have to be able to judge each performance and adapt.”

Tim mainly performs with jazz fusion band Mad Dog and the Sophisticats. With this outfit, he plays up to 100 gigs per year, up to half of which are likely to be weddings. He also plays in the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band and produces CDs for the band ahead of its annual visits to a jazz festival in Herne, Germany.

Although his “first love” is jazz, Tim says:

“To make a living teaching guitar, you have to be pretty versatile.”

He also composes, writes, sings, plays, arranges and produces for other musicians. Tim does the arrangements for an Andrews Sisters cover act based in Leeds and runs an a capella close harmony jazz group, Bamba Dooda.

When studying for his MMus, Tim researched the development of jazz harmony, including mapping the fingerboard of a guitar, which he describes as “a lifetime’s work”.

“My research didn’t end with the completion of the MMus,” he says. “I investigate better ways of passing on playing techniques to my students. That is a constant. If I go into a practice session now I’m not trying to advance my own technique, but look at ways I can accelerate students’ progress, or anticipate and avoid potential difficulties. Continuity is the key.

“From a guitar-teaching point of view, I’m always interested in doing the job better and looking at ways I can circumvent or pre-empt students’ problems.”

Tim’s great passion is to pass on good performance habits. Many of his former students are now professional musicians.

“From a technical point of view, the biggest mistake most people make is picking up the guitar incorrectly,” he says. “My performance expertise comes into play when we’re looking at turning a musician into a professional act. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you pause on stage for as little as three seconds, you can empty a dancefloor.”

Craig Steer

On honeymoon in Memphis, Tennessee, a germ of an idea began to grow for Music Performance lecturer Craig Steer.

The Music team set up a unique collaboration for Hull School of Performance Arts (HSPA) students at the famous Stax Music Academy, which grew from soul record label Stax and the Soulsville Foundation.

As a result, HE Music students and staff have been visiting the academy to help deliver the Stax Summer School for one week a year since 2010.

Craig says:

“I’m proud that HSPA volunteers at the Stax Music Academy. Our Music tutors deliver history, theory, performance, recording, production and live sound classes. Our students from across the music pathways act as our ambassadors, mentoring students at Stax.

It all helps to raise our profile, as well as providing a valuable experience for staff and students. We have maintained a great working relationship with the Stax Music Academy and the international collaboration is our unique selling point.”

While in Memphis, the Hull students have the opportunity to follow in Elvis’s footsteps, recording at the iconic Sun Studios. And in 2012, students met soul singer Reverend Al Green at his place of worship.

“We teach the cultural history of popular music but to go to record in the studio where Elvis recorded – where rock n’ roll was born – nothing compares to that,” says Craig. “It’s the best learning experience, seeing where the music comes from. It’s a very worthwhile visit”.

Craig has been teaching music at HSPA since 1999. His current research interests include a PhD with the University of Leeds. His thesis has a working title of His Master’s Voices? An Aesthetic Empirical Investigation Into Music Production Techniques, The Voice And Listener Perceptions. With plans to turn his findings into a book, he is researching the effect of production techniques on vocal performance in popular music.

Craig also has a BA in Music Performance and an MMus in Musicology from Leeds, and a PGCE, which he completed at HSPA.

In his spare time, Craig plays an in an original songwriting group – Steer – with his brother and two former students; an acoustic group – Launderette Poets – with other members of staff and does audio production honours for student bands and other local artists.

He also helps to encourage student music projects through HSPA’s very own record label, Purple Worm Records, run chiefly by Mik Newton.

Staff Profiles – Hull School of Performance Arts

In Alphabetical Order:

ANDY BRADYTechnical and Theatre Production

HEDLEY BROWNActing

Phil Codd – Music Production

Lisa ChapmanDance

Art DickensonMusic

Marguerite  MackleyHead of Learning and Teaching

Kerrie GranthamMusical Theatre

SUSAN JARVISBroadcast Media

TIM KEECHMusic

Alison Llewelynn JonesActing

MIK NEWTONMusic

MARK PEARCEDance

VAL PHELPSActing

CRAIG STEER Music Performance

MARISSA STEERMusic

Taylor RobertMusic

Wai WanMusic

Sue WhiteMusical Theatre

Jezz  WhiteMusical Theatre