Ben Christo – guitar
Ben Christo is a respected guitarist, songwriter, vocalist, lyricist and session musician, best known for his tenures with The Sisters of Mercy, Night by Night and Diamond Black.
He has performed across 6 continents to audiences of up to 42,000 per night, headlined festivals such as Sonsiphere, Fuji Rock, Nova Rock, M’era Luna and Soundwave Australia and played in support of Iron Maiden, Depeche Mode, Metallica, Faith No More, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Rob Zombie, Europe, Akaline Trio, AFI, Stiff Little Fingers, Avenged Sevenfold and Stonesour.
Ben has also featured as a live guitarist and backing vocalist with Therapy? and members of Judas Priest, Bruce Dickinson, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, White Lion, Rachel Stamp and Sikth.
As a studio musician, he has recorded with Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Killing Joke), Romesh Dodangoda (Motorhead, Funeral for a Friend), Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers) and Steve Lima (Corrine Bailey-Rae).
Ben is an avid writer and recording artist, his work extolled many times in Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Classic Rock Magazine, and has recorded with BBC Radio 1 at Maida Vale studios, with music featured on BBC 2 and Sony Pictures Television.
Members of Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P. and Rob Zombie have all publically praised Ben’s original work, and his sophomore album won 6th place in Fireworks Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2014, alongside Mr. Big and Night Ranger.
Classic Rock Magazine championed Ben’s lead playing (comparing him to Neal Schon) and commended his sophisticated lyrics. Accordingly, Ben was recently commissioned to hand-write over 70 sheets of lyrics as part of his latest single release.
He is also musical director, performer and promoter at Shot Through the Heart, a popular monthly rock night in London.
As a teacher, Ben has taught professionally for 16 years, mentoring pupils from ages of 8 – 58 years of age. Specializing in both modern and classic rock, metal and alternative styles, he will always focus on the music you are passionate about and his ethos as a teacher is to bring out your unique style as a player: “don’t just emulate – create!”
Endorsements: Gibson Guitars, DiMarzio Pick-Ups, InTune Guitar Picks, Kemper Amps, Rotosound Strings, Fender Guitars, Alexander McQueen Clothing, Dr. Martens
“With Ben, I was able to increase my speed and accuracy far more significantly than I had with previous tutors. He also helped me to develop the composition of my own solos – he recognised my influences but made sure my music was ‘me’. A great teacher.”
“Before I met Ben, I had picked up a guitar many times but made no real progress. Ben helped me to make sense of guitar playing in ways that were fun, exciting and to my own musical tastes, always encouraging me and making me want to push my playing further. Thanks to Ben’s lessons, I can now write and play music that I love”
‘Ben is an amazing teacher. His lessons are always really fun, and he uses the songs I’m passionate about as a tool to inspire me to keep learning. He has a talent for choosing the right songs for my ability and using them as a mechanic to build my skills. It’s a far-cry from my old piano lessons, where I was forced to learn chords by rote! Now I can play my favourite tunes AND am pleased with my ability as a guitarist in general’.
‘Ben undoubtedly improved my playing and general musicality. His approach was not just to focus on scales and music theory but also on how to fit a riff or solo to the music. He also helped me with how to set-up a guitar and select the correct effects for a track. Although I joined Ben as an intermediate level player, I would also recommend him for beginners too, as he has a very patient air. Ben has knowledge of a number of rock genres and is very flexible on timetabling’.
‘From the very first lesson, Ben put me at ease, reassuring me that everyone has to start somewhere when learning an instrument! He quickly gained an understanding of the music I like and went to great lengths to learn some of my favourite songs in order to teach me how to play them. Ben was incredibly patient and encouraging despite my tone-deafness and the poor quality of my first guitar, and was great at explaining things, always with tips and ideas to help me learn. As well as this, Ben is a genuinely lovely guy who seems to get on with everyone and always managed to make lessons fun and interesting. I would thoroughly recommend him to anyone wanting to learn guitar’.
Ben is currently available on Mondays and Wednesdays.
To book Ben, please click here
Joanna Backovic – singing, piano and music theory
…the most remarkable is the voice of Backovic,which gives the music its natural warmth and colour’ (Musicframes)
Jovana Backovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia where she graduated composition from the Faculty of Music Art in 2006. While studying for degree in composition, she founded, composed for, organized and led the band ‘Arhai’ in Belgrade from 1998 and their debut album ‘Mysterion’ was released in 2006 on the national label PGP . In its Belgrade incarnation Arhai was a ten-piece electro-folk orchestra that developed a fusion of traditional music from the Balkan region with ambient sounds and jazz-influenced improvisation, using classical flute, ‘cello, piano, electric guitar, bass and percussion, along with a quartet of female singers. As a UK resident Jovana continued to create music under the name Arhai, moving toward solo performance using live electronics. When she moved in UK to complete her PhD thesis, she began her collaboration with British folk guitarist and tambura-player Adrian Lever and developed the current format of live multilayered vocals combined with tambura, tarabuka and electronics. This collaborative work was generously supported by Arts Council of England.
Her academic works include Silence’ (Lorca’s lyrics) for a mixed choir (2000) / Piano suite (2000) / ‘Is it really me’ (Juan Ramon Jimenez lyrics) song for a voice and piano (2000) / String trio (2001) / ‘Four haiku lyrics’ for voice, flute and marimba (2002) / ‘Crazy woman’ for female choir and two pianos (2004) / ‘Trilok Trio’ for clarinet, violoncello and marimba (2004) / ‘Inqualieren’ for two guitars (2004) /Basic moods ( string quintet ) Concertino for piano and orchestra (2006) / Nigredo ( 2010 ) ‘Echoes’ ( 2009 ) ‘The Balkanites’ ( 2013 )
Jovana also composes music for feature and documentary movies and her current interest lies within the field of electro-acoustic music and live improvisational performance – exploring the process of the creation and development of individual music identity through improvisation and the use of technology. Jovana has completed her PhD thesis at University of East Anglia 2014, with the subject ‘Between Two Words: Approaching Balkan oral tradition through the use of technology as compositional and performance medium’.
‘I love having vocal lessons with Jo, it’s been a year now! She is a great professional and she always gives great tips that help you improve you technique and practice outside the classroom.’
‘Jovana has been teaching our daughter piano, singing, and music theory for the past 5 years. She is an accomplished musician and exceptional teacher who goes out of her way to help all her students.’
‘Inspirational music lessons, tailored around student needs – definitely 5 star!’
‘Jovana is the best piano teacher ever and not just a piano teacher.’
To book Joanna, please click here
. Select the date on the calendar, and then click ‘search’.
Luis Varela is a professional musician with more than 20 years performing experience. Music is something that has been a huge passion of his since he was a child. He started playing guitar at a very early age, listening to his parent’s Beatles records. Luis takes teaching and playing very seriously, but always keeps lessons pressures-free and fun – while helping students reach their highest potential, he makes sure the time spent on the lesson is enjoyable.