Rachael Donnelly Biography
I was born and grew up in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham. Though my family were not well off, we always had a rich love of music. At the age of 5, I began having piano lessons at school. My teacher, who also taught as a music teacher discovered that I was rather adept at the subject and encouraged me to peruse the recorder and take part in playing the school's handbells. Through this encouragement, it was discovered I could sing, a pastime that has never left me.
Over the years, I have developed other musical interests, including the flute, violin and harp. I have continued to play the piano and enjoy learning new pieces and songs. In 2003 I enrolled on a performing arts course at the Royal National College, Hereford, where I studied Music Performance, Singing, and Musical Theatre, and went on to receive a BTEC first diploma with Distinction, and later, a BTEC National certificate with double distinction.
I have worked and volunteered for many charities, including the RNIB, where I worked in the Family Services Department, and later for the NBCS. In 2010 I retrained in Business Administration and have had several Office jobs and worked for United response, supporting adults with learning and physical disabilities.
In 2015 I became interested in pianos again, but this time, I was sparked by the tuning aspect. After a visit with Matthew Richards, an established tuner in Wolverhampton, and a very good friend for many years, interest turned into an obsession. In September of the same year, I enrolled at Newark College for the foundation and Diploma courses. During this time, I passed the foundation and went on to study for the Diploma course, leaving college with the full training.
I have set up my own business now and run independently, tuning and performing small on-site repairs in the Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands area. I have managed to combine my love of music with the maintenance of pianos, making my job extremely enjoyable!
I, first of all, must thank my family, especially my father, John Donnelly, who supported me with college tuition fees and have helped me through my training. Their support and encouragement have been invaluable.
Secondly, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Association of Blind Piano Tuners, who have had their ears bent by my constant questions and have loaned me equipment throughout my training. This organisation is amazing and long may my association be with them.
Lastly, I must give my thanks to the Elizabeth Eagle-Bott Memorial Fund, run by the RNIB. This amazing scheme has provided me with necessary funding in order to pay my tuition fees throughout my Diploma Years at college. Without the EEB memorial fund, I would not have been able to complete my training.
I frequently attend additional training courses in order to keep my skills up-to-date. I have recently attended the Association of Blind Piano Tuners convention in Shrewsbury, where I took day courses in small piano maintenance and grand action regulating. I will continue to do this in the future.