Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Proper Practise Prevents Poor Performance - always refer to the book!

I am quite excited about being interviewed on Colourful Radio tomorrow - it's fantastic to be given the opportunity to spread the word:

Learning an Instrument is great!

Respecting to the old adage that 'proper preparation prevents poor performance' I have been practising to get my points across and to remember to mention my book!
So, as I am saying in my book 'A Parent's Survival Guide to Music Lessons' making music can be one of the best experience you can have on the planet - and I wrote the guide to encourage parents to give the opportunity to make music to their children.
It is not just about classical music, whatever genre is for YOU, the principles of good teaching and successfully making music with other are not that different.

From a personal point of view, I wanted to encourage parents who consider themselves as unmusical or who maybe are unsure about how to navigate the 'system' with practical and jargon-free information.
My own life story would have panned out very differently, if my parents had not found out rather serendipitously about music lessons. Neither of my parents play an instrument and I do not come from a so-called musical family. My mother was also an immigrant and it was by luck and tenacity that she did find out about the local music school. Consider this - I ended up with two degrees in classical music and  music has played a most important part in my life.
I occasionally try to imagine what course my life would have taken -  I am sure that I would definitely not have had as much fun, although possibly I might have been richer....musicians on average really are not earning a lot of money.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Determined Toddler

I might have been a catalyst today. If there is a little Wunderkind violinist emerging in 5 years time - I will be claiming credit!

My friend’s cutest little 3 year old has been demanding violin lessons - quite unusual, really. Even more unusual is the fact that those demands have been pretty persistent for about 6 months now - which in the universe of a 3 year old has to come close to inspired and doggedly determined!

How to go about teaching such a young child, in particular if you are a busy professional in a demanding job and other siblings to attend to as well?

The Suzuki method would be a good option for very young children, but it demands a fair amount of parental involvement - as the parent basically learns with the child. Not necessarily the best option, if parents and grand-parents are sharing the shuttling of kids to school and activities. 

Normally it is preferable to have a teacher who is experienced in teaching the very young - so enquiries were made, but logistics or geography would prove impractical. A three-year old will not be able to have a lessons lasting much longer than 10 to 15 minutes - and  the journey to the teacher needs to be relatively short, too.

In the end a slightly unusual but possibly very good solution was found - a extremely well trained, post-grade 8 teenage violinist attending the same school. This girl - mature and very fond of little children - would be able to give a short lesson before or after school, and because of the ease of logistics would be able to do two 10 to 15 minute sessions a week. 

Two sessions a week are very good idea to keep kids of any age on the straight and narrow with regards to correct technique - bowing and left hand fingerings are fairly complex movements. A week is a long time for a young child and it can be easy to forget how exactly to do things and for weird little habits to creep in - which will have to unpicked in the next lesson.

This is evidently an unusual situation - I would not necessarily suggest that you entrust your toddlers music education to a teenager - but sometimes circumstances are such that the usual avenues will not work out and you have to try new things.

Of course my friend could have waited till her child was older, but it would seem a shame not to reward such determination and motivation and to find out where it might lead.

I am very excited to see how this toddler gets on - and will keep you posted here!