Nancy began piano lessons at age six and by nine she had won an exhibition to Kent’s Junior Music School, the Saturday school for talented young musicians. She learnt with Christopher le Fleming until age thirteen when she received an Arts Council award to study with Julius Isserlis in London. At age sixteen she entered the Royal Academy of Music, London, on an open piano scholarship, winning prizes while there. Her professors were Leslie England and Max Pirani, with Rex Stephens for piano accompaniment. Later she took lessons with Nellie ben Or to learn about the Alexander Technique applied to piano playing.
She is a solo, chamber music and orchestral pianist, and piano accompanist. She specializes in teaching those of grade 8 and diploma level. She was on the Management Committee of EPTA UK (the European Piano Teachers’ Association) for 9 years, and was the chair of EPTA’s Kent branch for 13 years.
As an arranger and composer she has contributed to ABRSM publications, such as Piano Mix, Piano Star and grade anthologies.
Here is an example of Nancy playing the piano. On NANCYLITTENsalonpiano you can see many more, along with performances of her compositions and arrangements.
Her piece ‘The Sad Ghost’ can be found in the book of ABRSM exam pieces 2023-24. See her playing it here. In 2022 Nancy's first book of solo piano pieces was published by EVC called Piano Postcards. These are recital pieces for intermediate players and celebrate the character of different countries.
The violin was taken up at age nine and she studied with Bela de Csillery and Gillian Sansom at the Junior Music School and later with Clarence Myerscough at RAM, gaining the Licentiate diploma. From age thirteen she played in the Kent County Youth Orchestra, benefiting from the tuition of Lionel Bentley (of the Amici quartet). During a teacher training year she had lessons on the cello and organ, and taught herself the viola.
She has worked as a freelance orchestral violinist, leader of a string quartet, and chamber music coach. Together with Sharon Goodey she has collaborated on tutor books for violin, Playing With Colour, published by Alfred UK in June 2016.
During the 1990s, Nancy was asked to group-teach electronic keyboard by her county music service, and in 2000 she set up a Keyboard Orchestra for Kent, concerned that the players were not getting the same ensemble opportunities as other instrumentalists. Her composing and arranging skills were needed as very little music is available for this medium (fortunately she had learnt orchestration with Eric Fenby, while at RAM.) She was founder and director of National Electronic Keyboard Courses from 2005-2012, running many events for keyboard players and teachers, including two national summer schools.
As an electronic keyboard consultant, she has worked with the Federation of Music Services on the ‘Common Approach’ (Faber 2002), the ABRSM on the development of Music Medals, and Trinity Guildhall, developing the 2011, 2015 and 2019 syllabuses.
She has contributed pieces, exercises and sight-reading examples, and pieces from her keyboard tutors, Keyed Up, are listed as alternative repertoire. She was awarded a FLCM in keyboard in 2019.
Singing and Choirs
Teaching has involved many different establishments including Benenden School and the Kent Music Academy, where she has taught her instruments, chamber groups, choirs, aural and musicianship.
See Nancy conducting the KMA Choir here.
Nancy became an ABRSM examiner in 1998. She wanted to know more about vocal technique, and took singing lessons with Kate Fish and Jenny Miller, gaining an ATCL in performance in 2001. Since then she has taught singing and conducted choirs of all ages, including the Kent Choir for Instrumentalists, music centre ensembles, and The Dawn Chorus, an adult chamber choir.
Her book Choral and Vocal Warm Ups for Pianists gives pianists advice on singing techniques, keyboard harmony and accompanying skills. Her book Choral and Vocal Sight Singing with Keyboard Harmony also has a dual purpose.
In 2020 Rounds with Accompaniment was published.
Nancy's career has involved teaching and performing on piano, singing and violin, including being a freelance orchestral violinist and leader of a string quartet.
A string quartet she coached at Folkestone School for Girls twice reached the finals of Music for Youth, and represented Kent in Brussels. She coached string sections in orchestras at Ashford School, Benenden School and for Kent Music.
Her latest books contain arrangements of famous pieces (mostly piano, with a few songs) arranged for trio (piano, violin and cello). 'Classical Vienna' contains music by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and 'Romantic Vienna' features Schubert, Bruckner, Johann Strauss ll and Brahms.
Nancy adjudicates for the British and International Federation of Festivals, serving on the Adjudicators' Council as a music representative. She is a Generalist as well as having specialisms in Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Strings, Chamber music, and Choral Singing.
She often speaks at conferences; subjects she has addressed include aural training, piano playing, piano accompaniment, vocal warm-ups, sight singing, musicianship for pianists and electronic keyboard teaching.
She has spoken three times at the national Music Education Expo and at conferences in the UK, Arizona, Minnesota, Pennysylvania, Malta and Vienna. She has written articles for many magazines, including Music Teacher Magazine, EPTA’s Piano Professional, and EPTA’s Piano Journal. Reviews of her books have appeared in all of the above and also in Piano Magazine, International Piano, the AOTOS annual review, and the Royal School of Church Music Magazine.
Nancy is married, with children and grandchildren. Her hobbies include sketching, portraiture, photography and botany. She is the chair of the Kent and Medway Young Musician's Trust, and she and her husband organise the Maidstone Young Musician competition for Rotary.