Musicianship and listening skills
I work on musicianship and listening skills with everyone I teach. At the present time a lot of my students are interested in the music that they hear in their computer games and they have been reproducing the music on the piano and then developing and elaborating on it for themselves. At our recent Zoom concert several people played an original piece based on ‘Themes from computer games’. Popular songs and music from Disney films etc. are great also fun to sight read and provide great material for improvisations.
A joy of performing and sharing your music with others is an important part of learning an instrument and I make sure that we have at least two house concerts a year followed by the much anticipated ‘tea and cakes’. During the lockdown, lessons have moved online and we have just had our first Zoom concerts which were a great success and were attended by extended families as well as friends of the players.
Theory is understanding the music that you play and it is incorporated into every lesson from the very beginning. Even the youngest student has writing games to accompany their learning. When we start preparing for grade 5 theory – we just have to learn how to negotiate the exam paper.
This is also an important part of my method. Scales and chords are the building blocks of music and learnt in this way they become interesting and useful. We learn scales not because they are on a syllabus, but because they are help with creating music.
I am not a jazz performer, but many of my students are interested in Jazz. Jazz is all about improvisation, so it has become a natural extension of the work we already do in this area. We work on new scales and exciting chords and tackle complex rhythmic challenges. This work has spilled over into the ‘classical’ area and all my students learn pentatonic scales, blues scales and modal scales, all of which greatly enhance their improvising and their understanding of what they hear.