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Key People

Jane Cutler, Founder & Principal


Jane is the musical founder of DaCapo. She set up the organisation in partnership with Michelle Groves, with the aim of training musicians to be effective teachers and supporting class teachers in the provision of music in schools.

They started by opening the DaCapo Family Music Centre and have now been researching and testing the DaCapo programme with children for over twenty years, exploring the best methods, approaches and resources to make for an effective music education. DaCapo receives extensive recognition for the high level of quality and commitment that it brings to the world of music education.

Jane graduated from Trinity College of Music where she trained as a cellist. She began her teaching career in West Sussex, working as a peripatetic cello teacher and developed an interest in music education that led her to explore other opportunities. In 1986 she began to work within the famous Tower Hamlets Strings Project, run by Sheila Nelson, and here she came into contact with both the Kodaly method and the Dalcroze method and also had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most inspirational teachers of the time. She studied the Kodaly method for three years at the Kodaly Centre of London (David Vinden).

Jane has also been a teacher and lecturer at Trinity College of Music, St Albans High School for Girls, and a private teacher of up to 20 students a week. She has run INSET (both Instrumental and Kodaly based) for Berkshire Young Musician’s Trust, West Sussex Music Service, Waltham Forest, Argyll LEA and many more and was also the Eurythmics tutor for the National Children's Orchestra for many years.

Jane received the Editor’s Award at The Music Teacher of the Year Awards 2014, hosted by Rhinegold and Music Teacher magazine.

Jane plays with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra in St Albans. She is married to Roberto Garcia and they have three children.


Michelle Groves, Founder & CEO

Michelle trained as a nurse and also worked in information management for the children’s mental health charity Young Minds, but she has made her career with DaCapo. She met Jane Cutler at a traditional Saturday Music Centre in the late 1980s when Jane taught Michelle's daughters. Michelle was inspired by her ideas and approach and together they decided to establish DaCapo, initially with modest ambitions and then with a growing determination to ‘make a difference’.

Over the last 25 years, Michelle has guided DaCapo's growth from a local organisation into one which both delivers and influences music teaching in many different settings, across the UK and overseas. She also bakes cakes!


Ali Judge

Ali studied Graphic Design at Maidstone College of Art (now part of Kent University) and went on to work at the renowned Springett Associates before starting her freelance career. 

She joined DaCapo in 1994 and has been responsible for the design and publishing side of the organisation, designing all of the teaching resources, books and publicity materials. 



John Ashton Thomas, Composer-in-Residence

John Ashton Thomas is a versatile musician with a large breadth of experience in a wide variety of musical areas. He works as a composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, pianist/ keyboard player and teacher in the UK and the USA.

Since 2001 he has worked in various roles on a wide range of film scores, from Robert Zemeckis's "A Christmas Carol" and "Ice Age" 2, 3 and 4 to three of the "Bourne" series, "Avengers Assemble" and the final instalment of the "Twilight" series.

He has worked as an arranger or conductor for a number of well established singers, and has composed dozens of pieces of production and TV music.

John was made an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London in 2004 and holds a M.Mus. degree from the University of London.

John has written the music for the last five DaCapo Summer Schools, which are now an important part of DaCapo's school project repertoire.


Tracey Mathias

Tracey grew up in Cardiff. She studied history at Jesus College Oxford, and did a PGCE at Bristol University. She worked as a teacher, administrator and intermittent postgraduate student of literature and anthropology while trying to work out what she really wanted to do when (if) she grew up. She has been a DaCapo enthusiast for more than ten years, as a parent and student. In 2005 she helped to set up and run the first DaCapo summer school, writing words for a number of the songs. Writing has become a major part of her life since then: she has written a trilogy of fantasy novels for older children which is published in German (and still seeking an English publisher...) and is currently working on a new novel. In the meantime, she has continued to enjoy writing lyrics for DaCapo: she has written most of the songs for the summer schools, The Complete Instrumentalist 2 and for the 21st birthday celebrations.

She is married, has three daughters and a tabby cat, and has been singing with the Camden Choir for many years.


The charity is overseen by a board of trustees: currently Mary Kuhn (Chair), Steve Kenzie, Monica Healy and Saskia Rouffaert. We are currently building a new advisory board and recruiting new trustees in order to grow the reach and impact of our work. Trustees are a dedicated team of volunteers, using their skills and experience to shape and guide the delivery of our organisational strategy.

Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved:

The DaCapo Music Foundation

Head Office c/o Wren Academy

Hilton Avenue, North Finchley

London, N12 9HB. 

Tel: 07923 130289

Saturday Music Centre based at Wren Academy, N12

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