Welcome to the RSL Centre Spotlight, where we interview one of our wonderful delivery and exam centres. This week we’re joined by our good friends at Music Heroes…

Based in Shropshire, Music Heroes has grown exponentially since opening in 2015, now with over 500 students on their books. We caught up with founder Gayle Hickman to find out how it all began, their experience of working with RSL Awards so far, and of course, what we can expect to see from them in the future… this was another solid reminder that not all heroes wear capes!

Give us a quick introduction to Music Heroes. Where / why did it all begin?!


Music Heroes began in 2015 following the growth of my private piano tuition which I ran from my converted garage. I was still practising as a solicitor at the time but quickly found that I had enough students to give up the day job! I teamed up with a local guitar teacher and we began approaching schools in Shropshire. I was hearing from parents of students that the peripatetic service on offer in our local schools (ran by the council) was geared towards classical exams. I could see there was a gap in the market for a contemporary and affordable peripatetic service.

What’s your set-up like and how many teachers/students do you have on your books?


We currently now have 500 students on our books with the majority of those students being seen on a peripatetic basis during school hours. There are now 10 Music Heroes tutors and we offer tuition in piano, vocals, guitar, bass, ukulele, drums and, most recently, woodwind!

What RSL syllabuses are you using and why?


We currently use all of the graded exam books in the instruments we offer.

What is it about them that you think your students enjoy learning from and your teachers enjoy teaching?


Our students (and tutors) love the Rock and Pop syllabus. We also now offer the classical syllabus to our pianists. This is proving very popular. As a classical pianist myself, I was really excited about this introduction of an RSL Classical syllabus and I have not been disappointed. The pieces are excellent. The Frozen II theme in Grade 1, was a stroke of genius! Perfect for my younger pianists. Being able to take a graded exam playing pieces that you know and love is why I love RSL.

Are you using the Replay or the RSL Learning Platform to aid your teaching delivery? If so, how’s your experience been using these tools so far?


We have been using Replay for a few years now and on the whole, this is a very good service. We are currently trialling the RSL Learning Platform. First impressions are good; it's very user friendly.

What tips do you have for anyone preparing for their next graded exam?


Treat your technical exercises like another piece and try to understand their relevance to the pieces you’re playing. Don’t worry about making mistakes; we all make mistakes; that’s part and parcel of performing. It's how we recover from those mistakes that matter. Definitely don’t beat yourself up about a wrong note here or there. ENJOY IT. RSL exams are different. I get such a buzz when I see students coming out of the exam room with a big smile on their faces.

Rockschool graded music exams

Do you have any student success stories you can share with us?


Sam Bradshaw: started drums lessons with us in year 3 of primary school (and was one of the first-ever students to sign up with Music Heroes. He’s taken an exam every year. We’ve carried on teaching him in his secondary school and he just scored fantastic merit in his Grade 5. I’m super proud of Sam for being with us from day 1 and I’m super proud of his amazing Music Heroes tutor: Jon Harvey!

What’s in store for Music Heroes? What does the rest of 2022 and beyond look like?


Following the massive success of our first student concert last year, plans are underway for the next one…Friday 28th October at the impressive Barnes Theatre (Shrewsbury School). We plan to pack out this 250 seater theatre for a night of awards and live music from our students and the Heroes Band! We’ve just had our first Private Exam Day of the year (with all 19 students passing with flying colours) with further dates lined up for Summer and Winter.

We would like to thank Gayle for making the time to speak to us about the Music Heroes team and the inspiring work they do. You can check out Music Heroes on their website here, as well as Facebook and Instagram!

If you want to find out how RSL Awards can support your music teaching business, get in touch with our team via business@rslawards.com