Which instrument should my child learn?
I believe children are suited to particular instruments; when I was young, I always wanted to learn the flute and piano. I learned the guitar for a while but I found moving hand positions and not being able to see where to put my fingers (like you can on the piano) too frustrating. I also (briefly) tried the bassoon, but found the double reed tickled my lips too much. The drums are a great instrument for developing a strong sense of rhythm and multi tasking, but you need to take account of the space needed and the sound they will make. The violin is a relatively cheap instrument but it can take a while to make a decent sound. In my opinion, you need to choose your instrument based on three criteria: cost of the instrument (and maintaining it), portability and preference of the child (they are the one after all that will be putting in the many hours to learn it).
Reasons to learn the Flute:
- it's portable
- in the key of C (meaning you don't have to transpose music up or down in pitch to be able to play with other people, unlike instruments such as the trumpet and clarinet)
- it only uses one clef (unlike the piano which uses the bass and treble clef)
- it makes a pleasing sound
- it's often found in concert bands and youth orchestras
- free to maintain - no reeds like a clarinet, only servicing every few years
Reasons to learn the Piano:
- you can start to learn the piano from an early age - I teach the WunderKeys program that is made especially for preschoolers (ages 3-5)
- you can accompany yourself (meaning you have a 'whole' sounding piece rather than just the melody (tune)
- it is also in the key of C
- it encourages the development of the brain, helping the left and right hemispheres of the brain work together.
- it encourages ensemble playing - any member of the family can add an accompaniment, if the pianist tells them the correct note to play.
- it is a lifelong skill that looks good on any CV; my piano lessons have enabled me to have a career doing what I love to do!
- you can sing along with yourself or play for others who sing with you
- free to maintain a digital piano, only tuning needed every year for an acoustic piano
- when learning theory, it is really helpful to be able to play the piano - to be able to visualise intervals and chords.
- it is a great instrument to improvise and compose on as you can try a melody (tune) in your right hand and accompany yourself with chords in the left hand.
What does ABRSM stand for?
ABRSM stands for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and is the most common exam board used for music exams. Students can take Grade 1 up to Grade 8.
Exams can be done consecutively or you can skip a grade if preferred. Exams consist of learning and performing three pieces, each from a different musical era (the syllabus has many choices and your teacher can help you choose which one would suit your playing style).
As well as the three pieces, (which form the bulk of the exam), you prepare scales (which help to develop good technique in your playing) and then there's sight reading (where you play a short - 4 bars for Grade 1 - piece of music that you haven't seen before) and aural tests, which include clapping a rhythm back, singing a short melody back and answering questions about a piece of music the examiner will play for you.
The exam is out marked out of 150 and the pass mark is 100 and there is also merit if you get 120 marks and distinction if you get 130. Depending on how often you practice and your general musicianship, you can expect to work towards an exam each year, though in piano it takes an average of 18 months to get to Grade 1 as you are learning to play with two hands and two lines of music.
I averaged two exams a year until Grade 4 and from Grade 5 onwards I did one a year as the standard increases with each exam. You need to take Grade 5 Theory (or an equivalent) before you can take Grade 6 ABRSM. An option (that I took) if you haven't taken Grade 5 Theory yet is to do Grade 6 with another exam board e.g. Trinity Guildhall. They have a different syllabus but the general standard is similar. You will have a 'viva voce' section in the exam in which the examiner will ask you music theory questions regarding your pieces.
The results from ABRSM exams usually take two weeks from the date of the exam.
Do I have to study towards exams?
No. It’s completely up to you. In your first lesson, I will discuss your musical goals with you and together we can decide what milestones will suit you, be it exams, concerts or just playing for fun.
What do theory lessons entail?
With younger students, I use games during lessons to teach theory. However, if you choose to take ABRSM exams, once you have passed Grade 5, you have to do Grade 5 Theory (or equivalent) to be able to enter for the Grade 6, 7 and/or 8 exams. In these cases, I have found great success with students that take an additional weekly or fortnightly Theory lesson. The student works through either the ABRSM practice book for each grade, or more recently (and now my book of choice), Ying Ying Ng's 'Music Theory for Young Musicians' books, which follow the ABRSM curriculum, but in a much more digestible way! Having worked through the book at home, the lesson would deal with any questions or areas that needed more explanation.
How do I pay for my lessons?
Tuition is divided into 12 equal monthly instalments, due on the 1st of each month. More information can be found in the studio policy.
Will I need to buy any books?
Yes. For beginner Piano players, I use 'Get Set! Piano'. For beginner Flautists, I use 'Abracadabra Flute'. I also use 'Dozen a Day' technique books for Piano and Trevor Wye's 'Practice Book' for Flute. All books can be purchased through me or alternatively, you can purchase them yourself.
Can I have lessons during school holidays?
That’s up to you. In terms of learning, I think it’s better not to have a prolonged break from lessons but a week or two wouldn’t harm.
I cannot do my lessons anymore, how do I cancel?
You need to give half a terms notice if you want to cancel lessons.
Can you come to me for lessons or do I have to come to you?
I teach from home and therefore cannot come to you due to time constraints. Click directions to see if my location suits you. However, if my timetable allowed and you had three or more people that would like a lesson at your home, I could come to you, with a small additional charge to cover the cost of travel. (This might be siblings, neighbours or friends).