I have worked on teaching methods over the years, trying to develop the ability to assess what the particular pupil needs, as I find that musical abilities are randomly distributed, and that an excellent sense of rhythm, for instance, can go along with a weaker ability to pitch notes
At the start of lessons I emphasise the importance of sitting right, relaxing non-working muscles and breathing gently. I explain instrumental learning as a close co-operation between MIND AND BODY, where the mind is not always predominant.
I pay considerable attention to developing a firm sense of RHYTHM AND PITCH which may later be transferred to any other instrument or be of great value in choral singing, which can be a lifelong pleasure. After a grounding in the basics I try to take pupils in the direction of THE KIND OF MUSIC THEY LIKE.
While I recognise the importance of sight reading and the time it takes to learn, I do not wish to produce musicians who are able to do nothing but stick to the notes in front of them. so though I teach for grade exams I do welcome the opportunity to include help with picking out and CREATING TUNES, HARMONISING and other techniques which encourage creativity and self-reliance.
The GAMES AND EXERCISES I have evolved are summarised in the book ‘Can we do Another?’ mentioned elsewhere; they may include clapping, singing, conducting, counting, movement, reciting verse, inventing tunes, crossover thigh slapping (not what it seems!), and crazy duets where anything goes so long as it is in rhythm.
I have been teaching in and around Exmouth for more than 20 years – the most satisfying period of my working life. I have about eighteen pupils at present. I prepare pupils for exams up to grade three, though there is no compulsion to enter. Some people work best under pressure, some do not.
I do not teach beyond grade three but do not find this limiting; I have my grandmother to thank for a lasting love of children’s songs and simple tunes.
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I have taught pupils from five to one hundred and four years old, so you can do it if you want to. If you strongly feel you would rather do without tuition fine, but make very sure you get some thorough grounding in rhythm, otherwise you will be the musician everyone tries to avoid playing with.