Skaila began her teaching career in 1985 at the Purcell School. In 1988 she was invited to join the staff of the Royal Academy of Music. At that time there was no set harp course and Skaila tirelessly campaigned for a more diverse study plan for harpists in line with her own career. In 1993 she formed the Academy Harp Ensemble and went on to commission 35 new works from eminent composers until 2019. A full list can be downloaded here.
In 1999, Skaila was appointed Head of Harp and began to set up her vision of ‘a school within a school’ for her students. This included engaging specialist tutors for Orchestral, Contemporary, Jazz, Baroque, Opera and Sightreading classes as well as establishing a high profile for chamber music. She regularly invited guest artists from overseas to give celebrity concerts and masterclasses which drew large audiences. This was revolutionary at the time; it changed the face of harp study in the UK and attracted a huge number of students worldwide. This course is still the basis for present day study at the Academy.
'Skaila is the most inspirational teacher, mentor and friend.
From classical to pop, jazz to contemporary, and historical to chamber and orchestral music, she guides you through all you need to know to become a well rounded harpist and musician, whilst ensuring a strong and solid technique.
I was lucky enough to have over 6 years of teaching with her; years that will always remain integral to my career and musical journey'
~ Catrin Finch
Many of Skaila’s former students hold principal positions in orchestras and two are Visiting Professors at the Academy; Catrin Finch, International Soloist and Anne-Sophie Bertrand (Soloist and Principal Harp, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra). Suzy Willison Kawalec (Soloist and Principal Harp, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) has been a member of staff since 2018.
Skaila has given masterclasses all over the world including Russia, USA, Hong Kong and throughout Europe. She co-founded the HarpMasters Academy in Switzerland in 2006 with Milda Agazarian, was a regular visitor to Amsterdam Conservatoire for eight years and taught at Spain’s Jonde Nacional Orquesta.
'I love the way you teach and interact with students, and your suggestions were just great. It was such a wonderful and productive time for all of us, and my students absolutely loved you'
~ Elzbieta Szmyt
Chair, Harp Department
Indiana University, Bloomington.
Skaila has given recitals and lectures at two World Harp Congresses, the Russian Harp Festival, American Harp Society seminars, European Harp Symposium and has been a jury member in numerous competitions. In 2019 she was President of the Jury at the USA International Harp Competition and is a regular member of the repertoire advisory panel for the event.
In 1994 Skaila was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and in 2003 was appointed Professor of the University of London. In 2010 she became Professor Emerita of Harp and tirelessly continues her work there.
'Few teachers have the breadth of experience and depth of musical understanding that Skaila has. Whether she was guiding me through my studies of core chamber repertoire, preparing me for international solo competitions or coaching me through a contemporary piece, Skaila would immediately get to the essence of a work, understanding the nuances of each style and always guiding from a wider musical perspective. Skaila encouraged me to be a versatile and dedicated musician, approaching each endeavour with commitment and care whilst still maintaining my own musical voice. I'll always be grateful for her support!'
~ Elizabeth Bass
'Skaila Kanga was my professor at the Royal Academy of Music for 4 years. She is an inspirational musician who pays the greatest attention to every musical detail and was the most wonderful teacher. Skaila’s vast career, covering every genre of style and variety of ensemble, enabled her to cover a huge range of repertoire for the harp with me with complete expertise. Most importantly, she prepared me for the ‘real world’ after leaving the Academy. Her enthusiasm and passion for the harp is utterly inspiring. Skaila has carried on supporting me over twenty years later in all that I do....I am incredibly lucky to have had her as my teacher'
~ Suzy Willison-Kawalec
'Skaila created the most dynamic course for the students at RAM, her boundless energy brought us classes in so many specific areas relevant to the industry, making the transition into the profession a confident one. Her teaching was always so exciting musically and inspiring, my personal favourite being the coaching in chamber music, with her huge wealth of experience. I feel a sense of continued support as a former student with invaluable advice freely shared along the way'
~ Camilla Pay
'Skaila has been an inspiration and driving force at each stage of my playing, from when I met her as a teenager to my career as a harpist now. She is a source of invaluable mentorship, practical advice and dedication. Thank you Skaila!'
~ Catherine Derrick
'Skaila really transformed me not only technically as a harpist but as a musician and creator. I learned so much through her eyes for detail, ears searching for the most expressive sound and intense musicality. I still cherish all my notes from over ten years of her lessons and refer to them every week as a professional musician in my practice room and as a teacher myself!'