Madeline has studied music from an early age, starting with the Piano from age 3. The great ‘classic’ composers (Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt) inspired her throughout her musical development, and modern composers such as Hans Zimmer, John Williams and Harry Gregson-Williams continue to do so today.
One of the very first pieces Madeline played in its entirety was Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart, learned completely by ear, as it was the only demo song featured on her tiny keyboard. (pictured)
Madeline suffered from chronic ear and sinus infections as a toddler, rendering her partially deaf. She wasn’t able to get surgery to correct this until she was 7.
At age 4, Madeline started kindergarten early as she was reading, writing and spelling at a primary school level.
Madeline began private piano lessons from a local teacher at age 5, she had already learned all major and minor Piano chords from a chart found in her father’s Billy Joel songbook.
Her father Bill, a Dutch immigrant, had a strong interest in music, along with the rest of his family.
Many of the VanDerMast family sang in choirs and operas. An appreciation for music ran through generations.
Bill encouraged Madeline to play the piano and to improvise.
Madeline’s mother Diana is a poetry & creative writing hobbyist, set to publish her first novel.
Madeline’s health suffered throughout childhood, so she mostly spent time indoors, playing the piano and computer games.
Madeline completed AMEB Piano and Theory grades as she continued her musical pursuits. Upon finishing high school and her final AMEB grades, Madeline studied Music Business.
She met Chris Stratford in 2008, where the couple started teaching music together from Chris’ music shop. They soon after began partners.
In 2011, Madeline and Chris bought a small music school in Woy Woy. The school had 38 students, which they grew to 180.
Madeline became a finalist in the APRA Professional Development Awards in 2011.
In 2012 she taught herself Cello and Violin to further understand composition and arrangement.
In 2013, Chris proposed to Madeline at their end of year School Concert. They married in October 2014.
The music school had to relocate in 2016, so Chris & Madeline designed a new layout and built tuition rooms. “We wanted to create a place that was homely but also unique. We’ve designed the school to offer the highest standard of tuition whilst still being a comfortable place that students of all ages will enjoy visiting.” – Madeline
When COVID hit in 2020, Stratford Music struggled with constant lockdowns.
Madeline & Chris made the final decision to shut the physical premises in 2021 and transition to online lessons, where Madeline still teaches today.
During lockdowns, Madeline started work on her Music Course & Book publishing.
She released the Stratford Music Theory Course in 2021.
Madeline became the first female tutor in the world to be featured on Ultimate Guitar for Music Theory. Her course is now also featured on Musescore and Udemy.
Madeline was hospitalised with Glandular Fever at the end of 2021, which left her with full body arthritis, chronic pain & fatigue. She faced the possibility of never performing or playing as she used to, or being able bodied around the house. She was still able to teach from home.
Facing an uncertain future, Madeline set a goal of creating another music education project. This time, a computer RPG (Role playing game) with a music theme, laced with real lessons about music.
With a budget of $0 and no programming knowledge whatsoever, Madeline started creating her ‘Music Quest.”
4 months passed, and it was as if by some miracle, all of Madeline’s ailments subsided and she began to regain her health. Madeline is still working on “Music Quest” today and hopes to release it early 2023.