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In Brief


Stephen Marquiss journeyed from prize-winning music scholar through struggles with injury and mental health to respected performer, tutor and speaker.

Stephen's tireless adult journey from frustration to facility in his 30s and 40s gave rise to Piano Portals: Rethink Technique, a holistic, joyful online framework for technique and radical substitute for conventional exercises.

Take me to Piano Portals

Recent Highlights

  • 2023, 2020: Speaker at UK Music and Drama Education Expo

  • 2023: Roger Scruton Legacy Foundation concert recital

  • 2022: Fundraising concerts in London, Peak District and Somerset 

  • 2020: Piano Portals features in International Piano Magazine

  • From 2017: Piano Tutor, Jackdaws Music Education Trust

  • From 2018: Jolly Music Workshops 


Stephen began studying piano aged 7 with Peter Sage-Passant in his home town of Frome, Somerset, England.

At 11, he won a full scholarship to music school. In his early years, Stephen won the prize for the highest ABRSM music exam result in the country and reached the final of the Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists. He would later withdraw from the televised stage of BBC Young Musicians because of injury.

At 18, Stephen left school a shadow of his 11-year-old self, having struggled with recurring Repetitive Strain Injury, musculo-skeletal issues, plummeting confidence, a ceiling on technique, a fear of performance and a block around memorising. 


Stephen was the first student in living memory at his school to take an academic Music A Level in place of a performance. He went on to read Music at Christ’s College, Cambridge.


The lively academic environment of Cambridge sparked the beginning of Stephen's journey towards confident performing and inspirational tutoring. At college, Stephen travelled on a bursary to New York for piano tuition with Sophia Rosoff (1924 – 2017), who'd studied with and co-edited the essays of Abby Whiteside (1881 – 1956).


Whiteside was arguably the most audacious of all pedagogical pioneers. She acknowledged with great humility that her most 'talented' students progressed whilst the others plateaued. She uncovered fresh solutions that would empower all to play.


This kickstarted Stephen's tireless investigations in piano technique. He refined his own work over 25 years. An honest, adult journey from frustration facility led to over a decade of confident performing (now always from memory!).


Stephen formulated a groundbreaking approach to playing called Piano Portals: Rethink Technique, which:

  • explores technique only within what Whiteside called the 'emotional rhythm' - an authentic, flowing connection to music, in the moment

  • dissolves technical difficulties through deepening self-awareness, not dogma or drills

  • spotlights oft-neglected elements of able players’ techniques, such as the crucial role of the torso and of playing by ear (vs sight, rote or ‘muscle’ memory)

  • addresses whole-body coordination at all stages

  • welcomes critical thinking on received opinion

  • draws on varied musical genres and other fields


Take me to Piano Portals 

Stephen's journey birthed the ambient, accessible piano collection, Joshua's Fire.


Watch and listen to Joshua's Fire

In his spare time, Stephen enjoys qigong, photography and walking.

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