Our Team

Music of Life was conceived and is led by a team of professional musicians who are passionate about making the joy if music and life-changing experience of performing on stage accessible to young people with disabilities.

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, Head of School Programmes

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.

Ruairi Edwards

Ruairi is a much-loved member of Music of Life’s regular school workshop team of musicians delivering weekly singing workshops at special needs schools in West Midlands.

Based in the Midlands, I divide my time between my work as a piano accompanist, choral conductor, and music arranger. I regularly accompany for organisations such as Ex Cathedra, CBSO, National Youth Choir of Great Britain and National Children’s Choir of Great Britain and conduct a range of choirs including BBC 2’s The Choir finalists Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Choir. I absolutely love working with Music of Life Foundation – I regularly visit Round Oak School in Warwick and have just started playing at Skilts School in Redditch. Seeing the happy faces of all the children singing music is an absolute joy and makes )me feel lucky to be doing music for my profession!

Jane Money

Jane is one of Music of Life singing teachers who was matched successfully with an individual student in his home town. Jane has been teaching Joss, now 16, since 2014, and is described as a “god-send” by his mother: always optimistic and smiling, full of energy and compassion, she managed to help Joss out of misery when he was recovering from two major operations, stuck at home in pain for many weeks at a time; he always looks forward to his singing lesson with her, and music really lifts his spirits as well as helps him to breathe better thanks to expanded lung capacity, which is crucial for young people with cerebral palsy.

I am based in West Sussex and enjoy a busy career as a singer and teacher in the Brighton area. I am also conductor of the Brighton Chamber Choir, a founder of the Pyecombe Village Choir and an examiner and trainer for the ABRSM. I have been teaching for Music of Life for over 3 years and relish experiencing how music and singing can bring such a wealth of creativity and enjoyment into young people’s lives.

Cerys Purser

Cerys is one of our singing teachers who works with young people individually. Cerys visits Round Oak school in Warwick every week for a day, working with 7 special needs students.

I studied voice at the Royal Academy of Music and am a professional singer and teacher. I am passionate about music education and educating through music and in particular through opera and classical song. I teach one to one with students in how to find and use their voices to tell their own stories and find new ones. Working with Music of Life is the most important and satisfying work that I have been involved in, as the unique and extraordinary journeys that the children and young people make go far beyond the learning of a new skill or instrument but into their whole development, academically, physically and emotionally.

Suzie Purkis

Suzie is a workshop leader and singer. She leads and co-leads weekly singing sessions across four schools in West Midlands for Music of Life.

I am a classically trained singer and singing teacher with a busy performing and teaching practice both privately and at Edgbaston High School for Girls. Working for Music of Life I get the opportunity to bring a taste of operatic singing to children who might not otherwise be exposed to it, in a way which engages and involves them. When leading the choirs at special needs schools for Music of Life, the energy and enthusiasm of the choir members is always a highlight of my working week.

Cecily Liu, Events Manager (volunteer role)

I help Music of Life engage with our wider community through events, newsletters and social media. Every year, I organize a team of runners to participate in the beautiful Royal Parks Half Marathon, fundraising for our charity. I’m deeply moved by our runners’ commitment, teamwork and passion for our charity’s vision. Knowing that our events create a platform to help others in our compassionate society express their love to our children gives me tremendous joy.

I was born in China, grew up in New Zealand, and now I work as a journalist in London. I cherish the opportunity to volunteer for Music of Life, the work is very close to my heart. Working alongside our inspiring team and seeing the happy faces of our children has helped me to build a deeper bond with the British society, which I have grown to call home over the years.