O U R  A D J U D I C A T O R S

PIANO- Caroline Tyler’s musical career as soloist, accompanist, examiner, teacher and adjudicator has taken her all over the world. She graduated with a first-class honours degree and a Masters degree with Distinction in piano performance, both from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As the winner of piano competitions including the Anglo-Czech Trust Competition, the Christopher Duke Piano Recital, the Anthony Lewis Memorial Prize and the Norah Sande Award, Caroline has been invited to give concerts for various music societies. She has also performed at venues including the Barbican Hall in London, Enka Auditorium in Istanbul, and the Martinu Hall and British Embassy in Prague. She is an artist with classical music agency Piha International, and also the Concordia Foundation of London, which has led her to perform various concerts in London, internationally, and for university concert series. After a year teaching at a private music school in Istanbul, she has returned there regularly to give masterclasses. Caroline is also an examiner for ABRSM, and runs performance classes alongside her small private teaching practice.

Caroline very much enjoys using her experience to help others take new steps with their music-making, and is really looking forward to hearing the performers at Tunbridge Wells Arts Festival. 

STRINGSKay Tucker was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire and began studies on the cello at the age of 12, continuing studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.Her portfolio career has combined teaching and adjudicating with performing as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player.

Since 1998, Kay has been in popular demand as an Adjudicator throughout the UK, having worked at well over 200 festivals, including the National Festival of Music for Youth. ”Encouragement” is a key word in all aspects of Kay’s work and she has great joy in working alongside musicians of all ages, particularly the very young.

Kay’s passion for teaching led her to develop an early years strings and general musicianship system known as “Stringbabies”. Since its inception in 2004, Stringbabies has become well established and accepted as a leading approach in strings teaching (surprisingly to all ages!) and is being delivered throughout the UK and abroad in individual teaching practices, schools and music services.

In 2013 and 2014, Stringbabies was listed for the Inaugural Rhinegold Music Teachers Awards for Excellence in music education. In 2014 Kay was also a finalist in the BBC Community Heroes Awards in Education in respect of her work developing Stringbabies. In 2016 Stringbabies for Recorders was published, being the first adaptation of Stringbabies for a non-stringed instrument. Over 2017, Kay worked in partnership with Victoria College Examinations to develop a bespoke Stringbabies Award for beginner string players, now known as the VCM Stringbabies Award.

Over recent years, Kay worked as a consultant to Trinity Guildhall, selecting and co-selecting repertoire for graded exams and diplomas.

Kay has been a Trustee and member of the Executive council of the European String Teachers Association (ESTA), contributing to the development of the ESTA PCCert in String Teaching. In May 2019 she was honoured by ESTA with an award in recognition of services to the European String Teachers Association.

Kay became an Adjudicator Member of the British and International Federation of Festivals in 1997 and undertook the Post-graduate Certificate in Adjudication in 1999/2000


WOODWIND & BRASSGill Johnston is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After a period of freelance playing as a bassoonist, Gill turned her attention to teaching. She created Harpenden Musicale, a private music leisure centre for the whole community providing music making for babies right through to enthusiastic members well past retirement age. Musicale also runs holiday music courses, and has a fully stocked music shop, specialising in the education market. Gill co-founded the National Children’s Wind and Chamber Orchestras of Great Britain, which produced concerts both at home and abroad, producing a healthy alumni of today’s professional musicians. Gill is passionately interested in encouraging children to ‘make music’ and thoroughly enjoys adjudicating at Festivals both at home and abroad.

Gill has four children, all of whom are professional musicians.


VOCAL - Melanie Armitstead has enjoyed an international career as a Soprano Soloist in both Opera and Concert.  Early in her solo career she sang under the baton of Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Charles Groves and Andrew Parrott in Kent Opera and Scottish Opera-Go-Round.  As a soloist for ENO, Opera North, Scottish Opera and Opera Northern Ireland she sang the roles of Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, Micaela and Frasquita in Carmen, 1st Lady in The Magic Flute, Venus in The Return of Ulyses, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Maria in West Side Story and YumYum in The Mikado.  Melanie understudied the roles of Hero in Beatrice and Benedict and Atalanta in Xerxes for ENO and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare for the Paris Opera, returning to sing Mitridate and Le Chevalier Imaginaire at The Chatelet.  She performed in Oratorios and Concerts with many of the leading UK orchestras.  Recitals and concert performances took her to Holland, France, Spain, Gran Canaria, Singapore, Oman and Japan.

Melanie sang in a number of established ensembles including The Menagerie with Nicholas Daniel and Julius Drake and Classic Cocktail which mixed Classical and Jazz repertoire.  Her degree from Durham in Russian and French allowed her to specialize in French and Russian Song Recitals.

Melanie now teaches and adjudicates at Competitive Festivals and Competitions.  She was the Senior Singing Teacher at Sherborne Girls for 21 years and teaches advanced students privately.  She adjudicates at Competitive Festivals around the UK and in Hong Kong, and as a panelist in larger Competitions. 

SPEECH & DRAMA Mia Ball has been involved with drama since the age of nine.  She studied for her LGSM while reading for an Honours degree in English, and then worked for BBC Radio drama.  Having a family encouraged her to go into teaching and she has taught “A” Level and GCSE Drama, directed plays, and prepared students for grade examinations in several independent schools.  She holds the MA in Voice Studies from the Central School and until recently was a   LAMDA examiner,  running workshops and teachers’ courses in the UK and  abroad and  prepared  students for the LAMDA Teachers’ Diploma.

Mia has enjoyed being a member of the British Federation, has adjudicated at many festivals in the UK and abroad and has served as a deputy on the Federation’s Adjudicators’ panel. She is looking forward to returning to the live Tunbridge Wells Festival in 2022 after two years adjudicating online.