The most wonderful (and busiest time) of the year!

At the risk of annoying the people who like to wait until December: Hurray for Christmas! When you’re a musician or teacher, Christmas starts EARLY! There are carols that need to be sourced and learned in time for the holidays, concerts that must be organised and planning the schedule for which recitals are happening when. Most of my students have started their Christmas carols now and will be fully ready to play them for friends and family over the festive season.

It’s hard to feel cynical about the early start of Christmas these days when you see the work that the younger pupils put into learning their pieces. If we left it until December they would only have two or three lessons and that would never do! A slow build up of gradual progress is definitely a nicer alternative to panic stations at the beginning of December… But maybe I’m just a Christmas-aholic. ūüėČ

Christmas music

The festive season takes a lot of work from musicians, but it’s always worthwhile!

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Exciting term!

It’s so lovely to be back into the swing of things again! All my students have returned to me for lessons, as well as a few new faces. Quite a lot of adult singers seem to find me through this blog, which is great! I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when they alter a few small technical things and hear a big change in sound.

As always, the biggest obstacle with adult students is nerves. Once we brush those aside there’s no limit to what we can achieve. My younger learners are back in piano-mode again. I eased them in nicely, trying not to shock their systems after a long summer break. (Although, I was surprised to find that most of them played piano over the summer holidays! Always a good sign!)

It’s great to be teaching again, and my own musical pursuits have taken off, too! With a vocal recital coming up in at Christmas time, andideas brewing for writing a new album, I’ll certainly be keptbusy up to the New Year!

My most recent performance was a recital of a selection of German Lieder, French art song and Opera at Cork School of Music. It was a great afternoon and it felt like a positive way to start off a new term!

Singing teacher

Singing bridesmaid!

Just before the recital, I was honoured to sing a song for my very dear friends Kylie and Matt at their wedding in early September. The song was “Rainbow Connection”¬†from the Muppet Movie. It’s Kylie’s favourite song! I planned a little surprise for the end. I arranged that all of Kylie’s friends stand up and sing the last verse together. It was really beautiful! I was a bridesmaid too, so I was so pleased that I could contribute to their day.

 

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September means a fresh start!

Who doesn’t love September? We can already feel that the air is fresher, which is very welcome after the hot and humid summer we’ve had. The sun is still shining as everyone dons their school uniforms once more and creates unfathomable morning and evening traffic chaos again. New stationary! New school shoes! And very importantly: returning to music lessons again. (Or for the first time!)

Now don’t worry, as the Sorting Hat’s rhyme goes in Harry Potter:

“Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff.”

We teachers know what it’s like to come back to lessons after a long time! ¬†That may mean two months, or twenty years. Either way, there’s no need to be shy, you should just march in and try your best!

I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and have already begun this term’s teaching. This summer has been very busy with a LOT of singing! Between recitals, concerts and the weddings of two very dear friends, this ¬†summer has been exhausting and satisfying. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to teaching, though I have one more recital to give tomorrow.

Song writer

Singing to 1500 people in London, August 2013.

If you’d like to enquire about lessons, please check out my CONTACT PAGE

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How to Learn Music

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It’s been a HECTIC few months! Quite a few adult singers have started singing lessons with me this year and the main theme with all of them is¬†confidence!

Every time I meet a new student, we have a chat about what they want to achieve, what their experience has been and we figure out together where they’re starting. Every single adult student I am teaching at the moment has expressed a wish to be confident enough to sing a song when they’re out and about, or to be able to play a song without stumbling because of nerves.

This is really interesting and the good news is that going for lessons is the very first step in gaining that confidence! When you are playing every week for your teacher, you’re not just note-bashing, you’re becoming experienced in allowing another person to hear you. Your teacher will encourage you to do your best and give everything a try, regardless of what it sounds like. In this way, you learn to get used to the idea that an instrument will NEVER be played perfectly all the time. Mistakes are made everyday and we learn from them!¬†Through making mistakes, correcting them and moving on, we perfect our technique and learn to feel confident about our ability.

When you take that leap to get lessons, you will not be asked to perform a concerto on demand! You will take everything in easy-to-manage steps, one after the other. Over time, you will see an improvement and wonder at where you started.Your first teacher might not be the right one for you, but there are countless teachers out there, and you’re sure to find ‘the One!’

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Congratulations

Congratulations to my students who each received DISTINCTION in their piano exams this December! Well done, everyone! Gold-Star

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Lessons from the under 12s

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My Drama students certainly love to 'live in the moment!'

It’s amazing how many adult-beginners have called me looking for piano lessons! Although they don’t all come for lessons, it surprised me how many older people have expressed an interest in learning an instrument. Now, after a few years of teaching I meet adults all the time who seem extremely eager when I tell them what I do. It seems that most people regret giving up or not starting when they were younger. Just yesterday, the elderly lady working at the post office informed me that she’s recently taken up concertina lessons.

“It’s very difficult,” She said.
“But worth it!” I replied.

The thing is that no matter what age you start at, learning an instrument is the same. The problem I’ve noticed that my adult pupils face is that they just want to do it NOW and do it WELL and then it’s DONE. This is so different to the approach of the under 12s. They just take in what I say (usually!) one step at a time and don’t expect to be playing a Beethoven Sonata after five lessons.

If I put a simple piece down in front of a young piano pupil, we work through it step-by-step. We start by looking at the theory and what it tells us about the music. We clap the rhythm to make sure that it’s easy and understandable. THEN we start to play.

We can learn so much from this approach! I honestly believe that whether you’re 8 or 58, you’re learning the same instrument. A good teacher will tailor your lesson to use your strengths and inconspicuously work to improve your weaker points. But no matter who you are or what age you are, don’t race ahead of yourself. Enjoy the journey.¬†Take music that is within your abilities or that challenges you, but mix it up so that you don’t always feel like you are struggling! Surely you want to enjoy your instrumental lessons, and not wait for some golden moment in the future when you can one day enjoy playing!

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Success

Congratulations to ALL of my piano students who EACH achieved an honours mark in their Royal Irish Academy exams! You should all be very proud of the hard work and practice you put in. Onwards and upwards!

Amy~*~

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