Maria Teterina, CEO

I started Music of Life in 2003 whilst I was a postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music, and it gradually took over everything else I was doing.

Born into a musical family in Moscow I was surrounded by music from an early age and took it for granted. I never thought making music was any kind of privilege, for me it was many years of hard work and also a sense of pride that comes with performing on stage and getting recognition from audiences and fellow musicians. Throughout my teenage years and early twenties I was empowered by my professional musical experiences, so I knew very well what music can do to a young person’s confidence, how it helps in times of despair, how it opens your mind and life.

Alongside developing my musical career, I was working with young people for whom the journey of music discovery wasn’t so straightforward. For many years my parents’ charity, “Mir Iskusstva” (“World of Art”), has been helping talented disabled children and young people from across the Russian Federation to study music and perform with some of the most illustrious musicians – from Montserrat Caballe to Cecilia Bartoli, delivering spectacular gala events at some incredible venues such as Vatican and Sochi Paralympic Opening and Closing ceremonies. Taking part in this work during my student years inspired me to conceive a similar organisation in the UK.

As a Chief Executive, I am responsible for Music of Life’s general educational strategy, programmes and partnerships, fundraising and day-to-day project management. I am incredibly lucky to work with many talented and dedicated musicians – our teachers, workshop leaders, accompanists and singers – who are as passionate about making high-quality music education to children with special needs as I am. I also enjoy strong support from the Chair and Trustees and am immensely grateful for their guidance and hands-on approach to running what feels like a small charity with a great vision. We have some amazing volunteers, too, who dedicate their time and skills to help us achieve our aims and open up new opportunities.

Suzzie Vango, Choirs at Special Schools Programme Leader

Suzzie is responsible for planning, fixing and running all our school workshops across West Midlands. She liaises with schools, creates tailored musical programmes and plans for each school, leads the sessions and inspires everyone involved – from students to school staff!

As a conductor, voice coach and singer I am lucky enough to get to work with children and adults from all over the world both as a performer and teacher in a huge variety of environments. What I particularly love about working with Music of Life is that there are no barriers in the creative process. The staff and children will always have suggestions for how to improve the performance and are so willing to participate, contribute and have fun. “Music of Life” days are my favourite days of the week.

Emma Cockbill

Emma is a freelance musician, educator and workshop leader. She is passionate about the importance of music education, especially singing, and wants to improve access to quality music education for all children. Emma has worked as a pianist and workshop leader with Music of Life Foundation for about 5 years working on the Midlands choirs project. She has seen this project develop and grow over that time and is more and more committed and enthusiastic about it’s immense power to change lives as time goes on!  As well as this work, Emma is the Senior Programme Manager for Apollo (a charity that seeks to improve mental health and wellbeing through the performing arts), a conductor for SC Choirs, a singing animateur for Warwickshire Sings, teaches privately, and works as a repetiteur for a number of organisations. She is an accomplished pianist and is a busy chamber musician, playing concerts and raising money for charity.

Emma studied music at Emmanuel College, Cambridge where she was also a Senior Choral Exhibitioner. She specialised in performance, music psychology and music education and these have remained her key interests to this day. Emma is a trained counsellor and a SInging for Lung Health leader, as well as currently studying Song Therapy, a discipline which combines Music Therapy skills with community music making.  Emma is also a single mum to 3 children and a very energetic Border Collie!

Gina Baker

Gina is a vocal coach and workshop leader delivering Music of Life sessions at Selly Oak Trust School and Woodlands School, Birmingham.

Gina studied an undergraduate in singing now works in various music making settings including prisons, schools and with community choirs. She volunteers for the Choir With No Name, working with those affected by homelessness.

I love the energy packed Music of Life sessions and I can’t wait for it to be Wednesday and Friday when I get to see all the happy faces at Selly oak and Woodlands. I feel honoured and privileged to work with such amazing individuals who never fail to put a smile on my face!

Lucy Hollins

Lucy is a singer, choral conductor and workshop leader, she has been involved in Music of Life projects since 2020 and is now part of the regular workshop team at several schools across West Midlands.

 

I love working with people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience. As a musician, conductor, animateur and presenter, I get to do this every single week in lots of different settings, so I feel very lucky! For me, music has always been a way of life, my social life, my passion, and I truly believe in the transformative power of music to change lives and empower people. I see this happening right in front of me every time I lead a Music of Life session, and it feels magical! Music of Life sessions are full of fun, energy and imagination, and you never quite know what’s going to happen! It reminds me why I am a musician.

 

Ruth Montgomery, Music for Deaf Children Programme Leader

Ruth is a professional Deaf Musician, Flautist, Music Educator & Artistic Director for Audiovisability.

Ruth has been involved with Music of Life since its inception in 2003, first as a student musician and then later as a trustee. Since 2017 she has been designing and delivering music teaching programmes to Deaf children in several schools for the Deaf for Music of Life, leading its vision of increasing music opportunities for Deaf children and introducing them to the social, emotional and educational benefits of music making.

Ruth’s visual music teaching and approach to learning are strongly driven by the fact that she was born profoundly Deaf; she is a fluent British sign language user. As a flautist, she earned her Bachelor of Music honours degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music in Cardiff in 2005. For more than 16 years she has taught in a wide range of educational and community settings on a professional basis, from music for babies with Deafness to flute students from beginners to diploma level. She is a proud mother of two young sons also involved in music making.