New Beginners - general FAQs
Do you teach Suzuki lessons?
While I have nothing against the Suzuki method, it doesn't suit my teaching style and it also requires intensive involvement from parents. With young children, I incorporate similar games and teaching methods to Suzuki teachers, but I mix these with other methods of pedagogy such as Kodaly. Instead, I teach the Wunderkeys, KiddyKeys and Stringbabies programmes, which seem to suit my personality better.
How much should I practise?
Regular practice is important even for beginners - in fact, especially for beginners. A young student should aim to practise every day between lessons, even if it's only for five or ten minutes. Children under 8 years old will probably need an adult to help them practise; older children will need reminding and encouragement. Sometimes it may be better to practise in two or three short bursts.
When practising, try to focus on the pointers you have been given either in your notebook, 'at home' book or emailed to you through the Music Teachers' Helper system. Focused practise means that each time you play a tune you should think about improving one particular thing - e.g. concentrate on playing in time; keep my bow going in a straight line; improve the tuning of my third finger; make this passage smoother. This kind of focus means none of your practise time is wasted.
You can achieve more in five or ten minutes of really good practise than in an hour of mucking around playing through tunes - but feel free to do this as well!
What is Music Teacher's Helper?
Music Teacher's Helper is an online system I use to keep track of:
- lesson scheduling.
- fees paid and fees due.
- student and parent contact details.
- repertoire learnt.
- books and other items lent to students.
Parents and adult students can log in to the system and see a calendar showing lessons and other events. They can let me know that they won't manage to come to a lesson. Parents/adult students can see whether they have paid for lessons, books or exams. Students can also log their practise time and pieces they've learnt or performed.
While I can see everyone's information, families can only see their own details.
What if my child has to miss a lesson?
If your child has to miss his or her lesson, you can let me know by texting, emailing or through Music Teacher's Helper (by cancelling the lesson on the calendar). Unfortunately I no longer offer catch-up lessons as I have a very full timetable and this is not the policy of the Jersey Academy of Music. Catch-up lessons will only be offered if I cancel a lesson (e.g. if I am ill or have a performance) and will be usually be held during Project Week. Extra lessons may be scheduled during holidays or Project Week but will be charged unless they are part of a project.
Can I stay with my child during the lesson?
You are welcome to stay in the room, especially during Wunderkeys or Music for Little Mozarts lessons with young children. However, once children are familiar with me some of them concentrate better without parents staying. You may choose to stay in the waiting area instead, especially if you have a younger sibling in tow.
There is an honesty box café area at Chateau Vermont and you are welcome to use this but please do pay if you take any food or drink!
Do your students take exams?
Only if they want to!
My very youngest students receive an in-house assessment at the end of each stage of their course, before being allowed to progress. They now receive in-house awards for successful completion of each stage, e.g. completing Music for Little Mozarts book two. I find that the children are just as proud of these laminated certificates as older students are of their formal examinations.
Young violinists may take ABRSM music medals, which are nationally recognised but assessed by me with a video recording sent to the examination board for moderation. Unfortunately these do not exist for piano.
Students will only be entered for examinations with any board if a) they want to enter and b) I think they are ready and will do well in the exam. Students who do not wish to enter examinations may be asked to learn pieces or scales from an exam syllabus from time to time as this gives me an indication of their progress. I am investigating the possibilities of external assessments via DVD submission for students who aren't comfortable in an examination situation but would like to have their achievements recognised, and for those interested in jazz or traditional fiddle.
My child has particular needs, will you teach him/her?
Music is for absolutely everyone. If your child has particular needs, I will discuss these with you before we decide to go ahead with lessons. I have some experience teaching children with dyslexia and children on the autism spectrum and will try to work with you in finding the best way to teach your son or daughter.
Will you come to our house?
Unfortunately I am no longer able to offer house visits as I have an incredibly full timetable which does not allow for the time taken to get from one visit to the next.
Will you teach music theory?
One of the advantages of moving my teaching to the Jersey Academy of Music is the opportunity to offer the Materials of Music classes to all students, beginning in Year 3. These are not strictly compulsory but I strongly urge all students to take up these group lessons, which cover theory, aural and practical musicianship skills.
Individual theory lessons are also offered at JAM up to grade 8.
Do you teach [insert name of instrument]?
I currently teach the piano and violin/viola. While I play other instruments, I don't necessarily consider myself in a position to teach them. It is one thing to know how to play an instrument, e.g. the flute, and another matter entirely to know how to teach the instrument, particularly to young beginners.
Between the teachers at the Jersey Academy of Music, we can currently offer lessons in:
violin (and viola)
In addition, we offer toddler and preschool musical instruction; general music groups for reception and year 1; and tuition in music theory and chamber music.
Feel free to email [email protected].
Do you teach adults?
What if I've never played an instrument before?
Yes! My adult students in the last few years have included beginner pianists, beginner fiddlers and returning violinists. You don't need any prior musical knowledge. Sometimes adult students become great friends.