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Paul Sand Biography: Teacher - Composer - Writer

  • Vocal coach for stage performers and recording artists
  • Composer, lyricist and musical director on over 30 theatre productions
  • Musician, working with a variety of professional music groups & bands
  • Conductor providing orchestral music for films, TV and adverts
  • Writer of novels, short stories, poems and magazine articles
  • Trained at Trinity College of Music, London in piano, violin and composition


"Sand's lyrics juxtapose the high-flown emotions of traditional opera with the colloquialisms of the public bar - with hilarious results ...a masterpiece of innovation, refreshingly honest, and a wonderful creation of fun."
Yorkshire Post

"Wittily bathetic libretto. Sand strips away the gilt glamorising stage seducers."
The Times

"On top of the totally delightful singing and stagecraft is some very strong new material ...a marvellous musical ...the kind of thing Sand writes best."
Time Out

Vocal Coach

Over a period of 25 years, I’ve coached singers in a variety of musical styles for gigs, recordings, TV appearances, stage musicals and operas.

I’ve also worked with and composed for choirs (at Lancaster University in 1981, at Michael Hall 2001-6) and vocal harmony groups (see below).

In the process, I’ve become acquainted with a wide range of vocal traditions and their repertoires, including early musics, folksong, operatic and choral music, US and European musical theatre, as well as most contemporary popular styles.

Musical Director and Teacher

Coming from a family of teachers and having functioned as musical director and teacher for twenty-five years (including 5 years as Head of Music at Michael Hall), I find that communicating music to people of all ages and abilities - on technical, organisational and inspirational levels - comes naturally.

Guiding orchestral and instrumental groups towards a high level of performance is also second nature (and something of a passion).

In any environment, I assume a happy disposition and get on with everyone - even with Covent Garden Project, where the opera singers rolled in about midday, demanding tea breaks and the composer refused to attend.

When teaching piano and violin, I’m forever composing little pieces and studies specifically for the students. I also encourage improvisation and composition. It is important that students love what they’re doing and look forward to their lessons.

Here’s a blow-by-blow account

My Dad, Eric, was 18 and had composed an operetta, which the Theater An Der Wien were considering for production, when Hitler marched into Vienna and Eric had to get out.

Born in Hammersmith in 1951, from the age of four I was taught piano and songwriting by Eric and violin at school from the age of six. My Mum, Margaret, got me interested in theatre and art.

At Holland Park Comprehensive School, I became soloist with the choir, leader of the first orchestra and conductor of the second orchestra.

I also studied harmony and orchestration at Trinity College of Music on Saturdays.

Whatever else was gong on, from the age of 15, I was always writing and composing. I am indebted to Eric and Margaret for these enduring passions.

1969 Completing my A level music on the friday, by monday I was acting and playing violin in the premiere production of FORTY YEARS ON at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London (with a stunning cast, including John Gielgud, Paul Eddington and Alan Bennett).

1970 Lived in Vienna, where I wrote a song cycle, a rather bad novel and caught fleas.

1971-2 Ran an art agency and silkscreen printers to promote the work of young artists and co-founded the Woodfoot Craft Centre in Dumfriesshire.

1973 Marriage to Sara, travelling through Southeast Asia, where she left me and I wrote another bad novel.

1974 Co-editing and publishing an underground comic magazine called It’s All Lies.

1975 Formed a band called The Hi-Tones (Drums, guitars, piano, cello and violin) for which I wrote and arranged the songs, got the gigs and printed the posters.

1976 Composing songs for another band, China Red. Also songs and incidental music for the premiere production of DUSA FISH STAS AND VI by Pam Gems at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

1977 Another band, Quill, which I didn’t run, but which made loads of money, allowing me to pay my debts. Also soundtrack music for a series of educational films and jingles for advertisements (Guinness etc.).

1978 – 82

Formed Theatre Soundtracks with brother Richard and began writing scores for fringe shows, including:

The Greatest Story
and other shows for the Albany Empire

Angels Descend On Paris
for Gay Sweatshop

Kept In / Kept Out
Songs for Avon Touring Company production, directed by the late, great Nancy Diuguid

Gypsy music for Hampstead Theatre production, directed by Nancy Meckler

How I Got That Story
Vocal quadraphonic sound score, mixing live and recorded effects,
directed by Nancy Diuguid, Hampstead Theatre

Rock panto with Alfred Molina, directed by Rob Walker, New Half Moon

For Maggie Betty & Ida
Songs, score and incidental music for harp
Women Live at Drill Hall, Albany Empire and other London theatres

Berlin Berlin
and other shows for the Actors Touring Company
world tour and Donmar Warehouse

Whilst working for the Actors' Touring Company, I auditioned and fell in love with Denise Black. When she went off on their "world tour", I got depressed and broke my ankle.

1983 – 5

Denise Black
songs and endless tours with Denise, various combos and bands

Planet Reenie
A one woman musical, Soho Poly Theatre

Songs in a Spanish folk style for the music drama (based on the life of Civil War leader, Dolores Ibarurri) by Pam Gems, Newcastle Playhouse

On "Pasionaria" (Denise playing the title role), we met Josie Lawrence, Kate McKenzie and formed "Denise Black And The Kray Sisters".

1985 – 7

Denise Black And The Kray Sisters
3 shows (1 each year) for Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival and tours
Regular contributor on TV and radio including
Start The Week (BBC Radio 4), Josie (Channel 4), Friday Night Live (LWT),
Anything You Can Do (BBC 1), Live In Concert (BBC Radio 2)

1988 – 92

While our children, Sam (born 1988) and Dandy (1991) were very young, I taught singing and composed a musical, commissioned by Ian Kellgren of the Liverpool Playhouse, which became "Mad And Her Dad".

1993 - 7

In 1993 I threw myself back into writing and composing for theatre:

Lyrics and music for a comic operetta based on stories by Brecht
Opera Circus, European tours & Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival 1997

Out Of The Blue
Libretto for a music drama by Shun Tokura
launched at the Riverside Studios and transferred to the Shaftesbury Theatre

Mad And Her Dad
A through-scored musical comedy for 4 performers and string quartet
Produced by Miracle at the Lyric Studio Hammersmith
Subject of BBC Radio 2’s 1997 series “In Company With Sondheim”

La Dolce Vita
Lyrics and music for a musical based on Fellini’s film
Produced by the David Glass Ensemble at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith

King Stag
Libretto & score for a chamber opera based on the 18th century play by Carlo Gozzi
Opera Circus, World tours & Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival 1997

Rich Bitch
TV musical comedy short
starring Denise Black, Josie Lawrence and Jules Holland. Miracle Productions

1998 - 2001

Having not seen enough of my children, I decided to give writing for theatre a miss for a while. I concentrated on cab driving, writing 2 novels, teaching singing, violin and piano.

The Worst Cab Driver In Croydon
That was me. We’d just moved. I didn’t know any of the streets. Furthermore, I could no longer read the small print in the A-Z, but wasn’t willing to admit it. I lost money and some of the customers were rather angry. Good job for story-writing though.

World Of The Wicked
a fantasy novel with a twisting, multi-layered plot

The Andy Parvins Story
a comic novel, set in ‘swinging’ London of the 1960s, about a dozy bloke, strangely similar to me, and his helplessly trendy friends

Webber Douglas Academy Of Dramatic Art, London
Vocal Presentation Course to students in their final year

Saturday School
every saturday I taught my children and others piano, music theory, improvisation, group singing etc.

Private Tuition
vocal coaching to boy-bands, girl-bands, boy-and-girl-bands, solo artists, musical theatre performers, children and anyone who loved to sing
Also violin and piano tuition, mainly to children

2001 - 6

Head Of Music / Michael Hall
In 2001 I got a call from Michael Hall, the Rudolph Steiner school my kids had just started at. Would I consider applying to become the music teacher? Well, I had no qualifications, no school-teaching experience. There was no way I was going to get the job. And, despite our poverty, I didn’t want it…
I remember entering a dark hall where all the teachers sat in a circle, staring at me. I said “This isn’t the most intimidating entrance I’ve had to make. I once had to go onstage after a female poet had ended with the line: All men are rapists”. To my surprise, the teachers laughed.
Weeks later, hurrying down the stairs to my first lesson, I suddenly realised: I’m going to have to face CHILDREN. I’m going to make a fool of myself…
And I did. And I fell in love with the kids. And for 5 years we made music…

2006 –

Moved to Brighton. Children now young adults. Got a lovely little terraced house with a sea view. No big deals on the horizon, thankfully. Mid-50s, time to do what I want. What’s that? Fuck knows. Anyhow, so far:

The Sand Band
Double album with Denise Black (vocals) and Hedi Pinkerfelt (bass). Also Patricia Calnan (violin), George Robertson (viola), Jane Panayi (woodwind), Dandy Sand (vocals). We performed a series of gigs in the summer.

Singing, Piano & Composition Lessons
Somehow the school-teaching experience has given me a lot of new energy for doing this. There’s something about Brighton. Seaside, but not sedate or posh. I’ve never known a place so full of talanted singers and musicians. I take allcomers, from seven to seventy, from beginners to professionals.

The Whole Shebang
a 365-page adventure into reality. I studied the sciences, every discipline and perspective that might shed light. It gave me back my sense of wonder at the world and my love of verse. It also took four years.

Birth Of The Musical
a musical journey through the dazzling twenty years between the two world wars, from the roaring twenties to the great depression and the golden age of Hollywood, with new songs telling the story and old songs bringing it to life. It was premiered in London in november, with Denise Black (singer, mistress of ceremonies and our leader), Graeme Taylor (banjo, ukelele, mandolin, guitar) and me on the old joanna

Pack Up Your Troubles
This show takes a whistle-stop tour of the first two decades of the 20th century. It’s really a story of how the old world of kings and queens explodes in a war that kills millions and the modern age is born. Again, new songs tell the story, old songs bring it to life. It will star Tilly Crumb (alias Tracy), who tells me that the first performance will be soon, possibly in september.

2018 started a new vocal harmony group, The Von Krapp Singers and gave performances, including, in London, my dad's 100th birthday party.

2020 wrote two shows during lockdown, 'Between The Wars' and 'In The Sixties'.

2021 performed 'Between The Wars' and in 2022 filmed it.

2022 rehearsing 'In The Sixties'.