Classical Guitar Tuition

About Judith

Judith was born and grew up in Bolton, Lancashire. She was born into a musical family; her paternal grandfather played the violin and her father (B.Y.Tonge) was a well-known Civil Engineer by day and in the evenings was in great demand as a dance band trumpeter in the North West.

Judith was a keen recorder player at her Prep School (Clevelands) but it was at Grammar School (Canon Slade) that she took up the Classical Guitar, achieving the Grade 8 examination within five years of the first lesson on the instrument. For sixth form studies she attended Salford Music Centre, a specialist 6th form music college, where her guitar teacher was the Manchester teacher Martin Roberts. Also, at this time Judith took piano lessons, and flamenco guitar lessons with the famous Pepe Martinez of Seville who was a friend of her teacher and also became a good friend to Judith’s family.

From 1977-1981 she attended senior music college, The Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), achieving teaching and performing Diplomas on the classical Guitar and in 1980 winning the String Division of the Birmingham and Midland Institute Recital Prize, this being the first time the prize had been won by a guitarist. Judith’s guitar teacher in Birmingham was the Croatian guitarist and double bass player Darko Petrinjak.

Between 1976 and 1984 Judith played in Masterclasses given by several internationally renowned composers and guitarists, including Sir Lennox Berkeley, Gilbert Biberian, John Duarte, Carlos Bonell and Julian Byzantine, whose summer classes she attended for several years in the lovely setting of Phillips House in Dinton, near Salisbury.

In 1979 Judith received acclaim in The Daily Telegraph for an appearance on Granada TV to publicise her recital for the Manchester Guitar Circle. Her teaching career also began whilst a third-year student in Birmingham; she was employed by the RNIB to teach blind and partially sighted boys at Worcester College for The Blind.

In January 1982 Judith moved South to the London area, where within weeks of arriving in the capital she acquired the position of Classical Guitar teacher at the prestigious London girls’ school, The Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith, West London, a position she held for twenty years. Amongst her many pupils there were Will Alsop’s daughter, Roald Dahl’s niece and Marjorie Proops’ granddaughter.

Whilst establishing herself as a teacher Judith gave many solo recitals for Music and Guitar Societies, Universities and in theatres throughout the country. As well as classical programmes she performed lighter programmes, including for a Spanish evening at London University (Goodge Street) and for a cocktail evening in the clubhouse of the Royal Corinthian Yachting Club in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex.

From a young age Judith felt a vocational calling to be a teacher; to be able to pass on a love of music to children, young people and adults has given her the greatest of pleasure. She retired from teaching in schools and colleges in December 2018 and is now solely a private tutor. Since her early days of teaching several of her students have entered into various branches of the music profession but for most children learning to play a musical instrument is simply a pleasant and life-enhancing hobby. Judith ran many ensembles during the courses of her work in schools, with some of these taking part in the National Festival of Music for Youth’s programme and giving regular performances at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch and at Brentwood Cathedral. She has also adjudicated at fretted instrument festivals, notably for the British Federation of Banjoists, Mandolinist and Guitarists (BMG Society).

Judith has been happily settled in Brentwood since 2002 and these days still directs most of her energy into planning and delivering her teaching. She also enjoys reading, listening to most types of music, and since entering into semi-retirement she has taken to walking many miles each week.

Some of the schools Judith has taught in:

  • Worcester College for The Blind – late 1970s
  • Godolphin and Latymer School 1982-2002
  • Brentwood Ursuline School 1986-2011
  • St. Thomas of Canterbury Brentwood – for 5 years in the 1990s
  • Havering Sixth Form College 2002-2012
  • Brentwood School – Senior and Preparatory 2010-2018

The Classical Guitar: If you are not familiar with this beautiful instrument, please have a listen to some of my favourite players;

All these pieces can be found on YouTube:

  • Evangelos and Liza – Danza Brasiliera / Morel
  • Jon Gjylaci
  • Tango en Skai – Roland Dyens
  • Hot Club Francais – Gary Ryan
  • John Williams – Guitar: Madrugada – John Christropher Williams
    Prelude from 4th Lute Suite – J.S. Bach
  • Julian Bream: William Walton Bagatelle No. 3
  • Sevilla – Albeniz
  • Rondo in A minor – Aguado
  • Ana Vidovic: La Catedral – Barrios
  • Evangelos Assimakopoulos – 5 Venezuelan Waltzes – Lauro
  • Virtual Guitar Orchestra / Sergio Assad

Judith’s most admired ‘hero’ musician of all time is Julian Bream; she met him many times and was much saddened by his death in August 2020.