Naomi Kayayan

Through an exploration of Engaging Students and Teachers as Partners (Cook-Sather et al., 2014; Bovill, 2020; Felten & Lambert, 2020), Naomi’s PhD takes an interpretative phenomenological approach to understanding partnership and engaged learning practices within conservatoire piano lessons.

Naomi Kayayan

Naomi maintains roles across a diverse range of contexts in music education, performance and research. A tutor in piano at the Junior Department of the Royal Northern College of Music, Naomi is also a piano tutor at The City of Edinburgh Music School: a unique government funded Steinway school, providing intensive tuition to talented young musicians regardless of demographic or financial circumstances. Formerly, she also taught piano at two other of Scotland’s specialist schools: The Music School of Douglas Academy in Glasgow and Aberdeen City Music School. Naomi also coaches on the summer school programme at Chetham’s School of Music and is regularly invited to give piano masterclasses in the UK and overseas.

Naomi is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy; her teaching in Higher Education includes a role as a mentor/lecturer on the PGCert in instrumental teaching at the University of Chichester, where she is also a module leader on the MA in Practical Music Teaching. She is a Graduate Teaching Associate in Music Education at the RNCM where she has delivered seminars on BMus pedagogy modules, and she is a visiting lecturer on the PGCE in specialist instrumental teaching, jointly delivered by the RNCM and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Naomi has established a global reputation as a music educator. Pre-pandemic, she was Head of Keyboard at an international school in China, establishing partnerships and exchange programmes with leading conservatoires in the UK and USA. She has also held the role of Director of Music at three independent schools. Naomi has delivered professional development courses for instrumental teachers in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and the UK, including numerous presentations on music pedagogy, teacher development and music psychology. She is an examiner and consultant for ABRSM in which capacity she has worked all over the world.

Naomi has trained in person-centred therapeutic counselling which informs much of her current work. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in person-centred psychology, the critical response process, engaged learning practices and relational pedagogy. Naomi completed her undergraduate studies at the RNCM. Postgraduate studies followed at the University of Reading and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before returning to the RNCM to pursue a doctorate. She presents her work regularly at academic conferences, and is called upon as a peer-reviewer for academic journals. In 2023, Naomi was the recipient of five grants which enabled her to present her research on Engaging Students as Partners in a Music Conservatoire at the Centre for Engaged Learning at Elon University, North Carolina, USA. She has recently presented a paper on trust in conservatoire instrumental teaching at the Students as Partners Roundtable Conference at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Conferences and Dissemination

August 2020: 4th Asia Kodaly Symposium, Singapore: ‘Interaction in piano teaching in an online space and beyond’.

May 2021: Postgraduate Research Conference, RNCM, Manchester, United Kingdom: ‘The location of learning: The space between the roles of master and apprentice.’

May 2023: Postgraduate Research Conference, RNCM, Manchester, United Kingdom: ‘Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: A researcher’s journey around the hermeneutic circle.’

June 2023: Conference on Engaged Learning – Elon University, North Carolina, USA: ‘Engaging Students as Partners in a Music Conservatoire.’ Funded by Elon University, Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester Metropolitan University.

August 2023: Blogpost for Manchester Metropolitan University: Joining a Community of Co-creation and Engagement as a Researcher, Teacher and Student – PGR at Manchester Met (

October 2023: Students as Partners Roundtable Conference, University of Melbourne, Australia: ‘Respect, Reciprocity and Responsibility: A Foundation for Trust in Engaging Students as Partners in Conservatoire Instrumental Teaching.’

November 2023: Musical Situations’ Group – presentation and workshop: University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom: ‘What does it mean to Engage Students as Partners in Instrumental Teaching?’

December 2023: Students as Partners Special Interest Group: University of Chester, United Kingdom: ‘Reflections on Students as Partners Research in a Conservatoire: A Multi-Cultural Perspective.’