Wendy Max: Much-loved Hampstead Garden Suburb cello teacher on her extraordinary career and how to teach children music

Hampstead Garden Suburb cello teacher Wendy Max. Picture: Wendy Max

Hampstead Garden Suburb cello teacher Wendy Max. Picture: Wendy Max - Credit: Archant

Hampstead Garden Suburb cellist Wendy Max has helped thousands of children fall in love with music over a 40-year career in music teaching.

However, her vocation – which has seen her teach at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guild Hall School of Music – took her by surprise: she only picked up a cello in her 20s.

Wendy, 78, has lived in the Suburb all her life. She still teaches and has now written a book – Accidentally on Purpose – about her life.

As a young woman she began a career in media and advertising before she began a family.

She told the Ham&High: “It was interesting, and if I hadn’t stopped to have a family, that may well have been where my career went, but I did stop. It was a different era. I got married and then within a decade had four young boys.When I started them on music lessons I realised that I had to learn too, to encourage them and make it something they enjoyed.”

As a teacher, Wendy also spent a “inspiring” decade working with the pioneering Tower Hamlets Strings Project.

She said: “All children are talented. It’s one of the things I swear by, and all children are able to get a lot of pleasure from music.”

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After learning alongside her sons, Wendy caught the teaching bug, and when a pupil was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music, Wendy was asked to teach there. At the Royal Academy she went on to found and lead their First String Experience teaching program for 23 years.

Although she was asked to step down from that role in 2003 Wendy still has no plans to retire.

She said: “I don’t advertise, but I enjoy teaching music, and I will do so as long as people keep asking me to! It keeps you young, because you end up working with families who, with tiny children, are astonishingly young.”