June Armstrong started to learn the piano at age 6 and the violin at age 11. She studied music at Queen’s University Belfast, graduating with a BMus and an MA in composition and twentieth century analysis. After working as a peripatetic violin tutor with the City of Belfast School of Music, she moved with her husband to the Albany region of New York State, where she lived for six years, during which time both her sons were born.
On returning to live permanently in Belfast in 1984, she began teaching both her sons to play the piano and discovered a previously unsuspected passion for the piano and for piano teaching. This quickly led to a diploma in piano teaching and a full time career of over 30 years.
After beginning to teach the piano, she made a decision early on, to teach outside the examination system, instead focusing on the development of informed stylistic playing and confidence in performing.
After having taught the piano for over 20 years, specialising in teaching music which engages the imagination and enhances the development of flair and listening, it was natural that she should want to write music that stretches the development of interpretation, even - or especially, at an early age. A desire to compose piano music for young people learning to play the piano, specifically focusing on atmospheric playing, developing both a tonal palette and a sensitive pedalling technique, led to the creation of her first collection, Strangford Sketchbook, which was completed in 2010.
Pieces or Studies?
The pieces contained in many of the books are also technical studies as well as being character studies. They address a wide range of technique and expression and are challenging in their interpretive goals. June has particularly enjoyed teaching the music of Janina Garscia, Walter Carroll, Burgmuller, Peter Sculthorpe, Petr Eben, Takacs, Turina, William Gillock, Jon George and Haflidi Halgrimsson.
In 1994 she co-founded the EPTA (European Piano Teachers’ Association) Belfast branch, which is now a flourishing organisation providing CPD for local piano teachers, and performance and development opportunities for pupils, including the largest UK entry in the national annual EPTA (UK) Piano Competition.
Contemporary Music Centre (CMC) Ireland
June is a composer at the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland's national archive for new music.
Playing Bach, playing the violin, jazz, motivating, walking . . . and watching the sea.
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