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!’
Congratulations to my students who each received DISTINCTION in their piano exams this December! Well done, everyone!
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!
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!
At last, the summer is coming! With their first Royal Irish Academy piano exams behind them, the younger students are tangibly close to the long stretch of summer holidays. All of them seem completely untroubled by the very exams I found so scary when I was young.
As a child I was sent to cello lessons after school. Quite honestly I used to dread them. Every week we would repeat the same pieces, scales and arpeggios and I would despair because this was, quite frankly, no fun. As I recall, in cello exams students had to play three set pieces and three chosen pieces. My teacher would always leave the chosen pieced until the very end of the year. For this reason I was sent to cello exams several times feeling underprepared, panicked and absolutely terrified. Everyone knows what it is like to sit an exam when they don’t feel prepared. What’s even worse is when you are expected to perform competently with trembling hands.
In college I studied voice as my main instrument and I loved it. It was a complete change from cello and it made me understand what had made me so afraid. In singing, my teacher went step-by-step. She made sure I understood something completely and could put it into practice before going on. I made incredible progress and loved every second of it.
Although I didn’t enjoy those years of cello, they have given me an understanding of how students respond to different teaching styles. I always try to react to how much the student is taking in, never wanting them to feel left behind or bogged down by the theory. And I would NEVER allow a student to take an exam they didn’t feel ready for. Learning to play and read music should be about fun, passion and self-development, not about a piece of paper issued by an exam board.
One of my mature students also took the leap into piano exams before Easter. She went in feeling confident about her ability, although, she explained, she was doing it for the experience. The outcome doesn’t matter to her. She enjoyed the whole thing from start to finish and is eager to begin the next grade along. This lady is in her sixties and started learning piano with me last Autumn – what an inspiration!
On Thursday 21st April there will be two workshops taking place in Blarney for children under 12 years.
Each child will be taught to write his/her own melody and rhythm, while learning how to read music and sing at sight. They will also have the opportunity to play a range of melodic and percussive instruments!
We will also learn listening skills and basic theory in a fun way through games and exercises.
Finally, each child will make and decorate their own percussive instrument and learn to play the rhythms they have written themselves!
All materials will be provided.
9-12 year olds: 10.30 – 12.30pm (€30)
7-8 year olds: 1.30 – 2.30pm (€15)
Get in touch via our contact pageto book.
The new academic year has kicked off! Having completed the first week of teaching and met the new students, I am particularly looking forward to the next seven weeks and getting settled in. It’s my ambition to hold a Christmas Concert in December for all the students. Some who were with me last year will be doing exams in the spring so a fun concert will be something diverting to focus on.
In other news, I received a letter today from the U.C.C. Music Department to say that the U.C.C. Choir is being reinstated. This is wonderful news for the university and I hope that the music students in particular avail of it. The choir is open to graduates and members of staff as well as students of the college and will be held on Wednesday nights.