Last Tuesday was my final day teaching piano and music theory at the Hewett School. Since January this year I have spent nearly every Tuesday teaching around 12/13 students individually. After finishing my own studies there in 2013, it was a pleasure to be called back to work alongside some of my favourite teachers.
When I first started I had little to no experience teaching (notably, this began before I started teaching privately) and I found myself barely knowing what to say. But, after I got through my first day and had gathered some background on what my students were like and wanted, I naturally adopted the styles of my own teachers. This was great! It made me relive all those early lessons on posture and technique that I had simply internalised and almost overlooked as instinct. The most interesting thing was teaching different students the same piece and getting wildly different results.
I was very grateful to have a handful of enthusiastic and hard working students. It’s always nice to be surprised by a student’s progress and intiative; most of them being around 13, I expected them to practice as little as I did when I was their age. But no, and I saw a lot of promising progression from some of them.
My students ranged from ages 12-18 and were mostly beginner pianists, with a few more advanced players. My theory students were between grades 5-6, two of which passed their grade 5 while under my tuition. I must say, I enjoy teaching theory more, but it was far more stressful. It relied so much more on the students’ self study and ability to plough through harmony exercises (again referring back to my own experience, I was always doing exercises in my spare time. This is probably why my theory teacher loved me). My keen theory students are continuing private tuition with me over the summer, so I must be doing something right!
I once watched a film documenting Bernstein’s teaching, and in an interview he said he was learning alongside his students. I am now able to fully relate to this.
This song is everything I’m into at the minute. Bossa Nova’s are so much fun.
My latest ABRSM grade 5 theory pupil just passed his exam :)
I finished this book yesterday on the bus. It was an interesting progression from Musica Practica (which I read earlier this year) but it was different in that it was centred much more on political history than that of music. Music was used as a grand metaphor and a precursor for the political vehicle, emphasised not only by evidence from classical (“learned”) music but also from popular and ethnic music. My only distaste was towards the utopian prediction for the future of music, succeeding the post-modern crisis. I’m too much of a pessimist to be that hopeful!
As usual I’ve been to an array of concerts that I’ve forgotten to blog about (I will get over this).
I went to see the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra in their final concert of the season back in June. It was a special concert highlighting the orchestras talented individuals with solo roles (normally they bring soloists in). The program itself was really inviting, with a diverse range of lesser known composers, something I particularly enjoy about NSO concerts. Highlights for me were the Britten ‘Soirées Musicales’ and Bruch’s ‘Kol Nidrei’.
I went to see Carolyn Gibley perform her first concert of Handel’s complete keyboard suites. I don’t think I’m going to go to the last one, which is a shame because the first was really interesting. I found myself picking up on characteristics of the dance forms and had a nice discussion with Carolyn afterwards about temperament. She explained she’d been using Valotti tuning which I hadn’t come across before.
Lastly, I went to a concert last weekend with my old theory teacher. We saw a collection of Kurt Weill songs, creatively performed in a cabaret style. It made sense to do so, because to have the songs seriously sung like Lieder would have imposed on the style, but rather the nonchalant atmosphere made for a fitting environment. I was super pleased when Youkali was performed (it’s my favourite Weill song) and then there was an interlude where the pianist played Gerschwin’s ‘Three Piano Preludes’, expertly blended with the ending of Youkali.
Last weekend Bloco De Foguete were part of The Lord Mayor’s Procession in Norwich, meaning I got to play lots of Tamborim! Our costumes were comprised of fish fins, which accented one of our main songs. Other than some technical difficulties and a spot or two of rain it all went rather well.
The final picture is from a workshop last Thursday with Adriano Adewale and co. It was all about involving your whole body while you’re playing, and included dancing, singing and all sorts. Was really quite fun!
The school I work at gave me a load of records and books they don’t use anymore. I love my job!