I’ve started an account to post clips of music, tips and photos of my artistic endeavours over the summer. Follow me at @corkmusiccollective or click the picture below!
Well. What an… interesting few months we’ve had! Covid-19 has certainly changed the way that business has been done in Ireland and my teaching has been no exception.
Luckily, as soon as the schools closed, I immediately moved all of my students to online lessons. We used a mixture of Facetime, Zoom and Whatsapp Video. Overall it worked very well, although the first two weeks were a steep learning curve for me! My music room looked like an explosion in a paper factory as I had to have so many different types of music to hand, not to mention my camera roll which had screenshots and photos of many of my students’ music. My biggest takeaway from that aspect is that I need to have copies of all the music that all my students have in case of emergency.
It all did work out for the best! My exam students where able to submit video exams, my other learners were able to keep improving and I even had a new beginner student who has taken to music lessons like a duck to water.
One thing that I noticed was that the teenage and older students really managed very well with the remote teaching. Some were able to practise more than usual and have leapt forward more than they would have. For the younger learners, however, the biggest struggle has simply been the connection made when communicating in person. There must be something in the way that they mimic the teacher in person, because things took a little longer, although we always got there in the end. |
As always I feel incredibly lucky to be teaching the students I have. They have shown patience and focus and willingness that I’m not sure I would have when I was so young! I can’t begin to tell you how much I missed them all over the weeks. Watching on a screen is no substitute for the jokes and fun we have in our lessons.
Here’s hoping it can all get closer to normal soon.
Stay safe and well!
Time is flying! I can’t believe it’s week 8 of term and the not-so-distant sound of jingle bells is ringing in my ears. (A welcome sound!)
The other day I was listening to a podcast by Deliciously Ella. It featured a business owner who stressed how important it is to be clear about what your brand is and what it’s not. I took a few moments to think about the brand I have tried to create here at Cork Music Collective.
What my ‘brand’ IS:
To me, music is for life. It’s something to look forward to every day, a way of expressing yourself, relaxing, or having fun! I focus on teaching my students to enjoy the process of learning. Where they are right now is exactly where they should be, and we will build on that together. It’s not a race, there is no finish-line. If you enjoy music, you will continue to grow and change as a musician throughout life.
I believe in fostering joy, curiosity and love of music. I believe in celebrating the music you can make, and sharing it.
What my ‘brand’ is NOT:
Looking around, I see a lot of music academies and teachers whose sole purpose seems to be to gain the most exposure, the loudest voices, the best social media presence. When you see their pupils singing or playing happily, it all looks wonderful, but what about the students who aren’t loud or confident performers? Where is the place for them to LEARN and GROW?
My teaching is not about having the loudest voice or prioritising students with the flashiest act.
Another thing I see often is the style of teaching which is geared towards grade exams. The idea being to race younger students through Grades 1-8 by the time they leave school. How many adults do you know who studied and instrument in their childhood, but gave it up because the pressure was too much, or they didn’t enjoy playing? If you’re like me, the answer is many.
My teaching is not about pushing students through exams they are not ready for, or taking shortcuts so that they feel incompetent.
This has been my philosophy from day one, and it will continue to be throughout the years.
With the end of summer close at our heels, I thought this would be the ideal time to make a little playlist on Spotify for you! Click here! Feel free to listen on road trips, or even while driving to get your new school books!
The music is a selection of the weird and wonderful, suitable for kids and adults. It comes with a little game:
-Can you name the instruments playing?
I have done my best to make sure that a wide variety of orchestral instruments have their moment in this playlist! Let’s see who’s the best listener and knows the different instruments!
Other things you might want to think about are:
-Does this piece make you think of an animal, or a scene?
-Is this a big or small instrument?
-What instrument is playing the melody, and what is playing the accompaniment (background)?
When you think about who is attending music lessons week in and week out, who do you think of? When you see someone sitting down to a piano or singing their scales every day, who is it you see?
Are you seeing a potential professional musician? Someone whose destiny is the National Concert Hall? You would be forgiven for thinking of this fictional prodigy with her arms laden with music books, trudging through hours of difficult practice.
Let me tell you who I think of!
I think of all my students, both young and old, who are eager to learn to sing so that they can join a choir or sing at a family event. I think of the students who start off knowing nothing about music theory and learn to read music. They start to enjoy understanding and using this new musical language.
You don’t need to feel that you have “The Gift” when you want to learn music, all you need is a sense of curiosity and fun! Some of my most successful music students are not the ones who showed the most natural flair at the start! They are the ones who decided to go home, try out this new technique every day and play around with it.
The people who need music the most aren’t always the ones who are born into it, or the ones who show an immediate aptitude. Music is for everyone, no matter how much you know already. Singing especially is a way to become more confident, to relax and to learn a skill. I often see that when a student of mine takes a little bit more care and attention from me, they eventually sail off on their own musical journey. Exams and concerts aren’t for everyone, some people just want to sing for themselves and that is to be encouraged.
So, who should you think of as a diligent music student? Anyone! From 0 – 100! You! There is no ideal student, it’s all about improving your own skills and confidence and finding a deeper meaning in something you enjoy.
At last it’s nearly time for the Christmas Concert! Save the date:
MONDAY 18TH DECEMBER at 3.30pm!
After another wonderful and rather hectic week, I thought it would be good to show a selection of guitar designs from this week’s competition!
Congratulations to Zara and Ryan, who drew as the winners!
Now that we’ve all started our first lessons, there’s one little (big) topic that needs addressing.
That’s right: PRACTICE!
This week I met some young musicians who were absolutely shocked to learn that there was ‘homework!’
Now, first of all, music should be a rewarding and interesting experience. Let’s not equate it to doing long division! Without those daily explorations on their instrument, pupils will arrive at the next lesson lost and frustrated that they’re not progressing.
I’ve read a few articles to try to find the best advice for you, but honestly some of the recommendations were so bonkers that I’ve decided to have a crack myself. Here it goes!
How to encourage your child to practise:
1. If this if your child’s first week of lessons, all you need to do is create the habit of picking up the instrument every day. No matter how dreadful it sounds, this daily habit is what will spark the curiosity they need to keep coming back and to keep improving.
2. Use the Practice Schedule that was given to your child this week. Get them to colour in or tick the box each day. When they fill in the whole week they’ll get a sticker from me and they’re on their way to getting a prize! (Remember to pack this in their folder on lesson day!)
3. Ask questions! If you are curious about the instrument, your child will be too. If you can’t wait to hear and understand what they learned, they can’t wait to show you!
4. Stuck for time? Schedule a set time every day for practice. Some people find that first thing in the morning before school is the only time they can fit in practice and that is IDEAL!
It’s great to be back to school and on our way to making some great music! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment below!
This is just a little note to say welcome back to all the students who are returning this year, and a jolly hello and welcome to the new musicians coming on board!
In order to make this year a little more streamlined, I’ve added a calendar to this site. You can access it in the menu above, or by clicking here. In the calendar you’ll find a colour-coded chart of important dates like exam deadlines, concert weeks and payment dates.
The calendar will be updated with the concert times a little closer to December.
The FAQ page has been updated for new pupils. This page includes a contact form for any questions you may have.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
This year, I already have plans for our first STUDENTS ONLY concert in February for the piano players. What a perfect opportunity for us to learn from each other, show what we’ve learned and have some fun, too!
I’ve spent quite a bit of time scouring the internet for fun ideas and new songs for my young musicians. Duets, composing, music games and new pieces are all on the agenda for this term. It’s all about getting together, collaborating, making music a part of every day interactions. 🙂 I can’t wait!
As for my mature singing students, I feel quietly confident that I can wrangle them together for a low-key recital this year. Adults are always a million times more nervous than children, but my fabulous adult singers have been growing and growing in confidence and ability! Soon they will be ready to stand up and sing for each other!