Teaching

I currently teach students in both Bromsgrove School and Winterfold House School. I also teach private students from my home in Edgbaston. I'm happy to work with students of all ages and levels- and have taught from beginners up to both Grade 8 and Diploma levels. I am fully CRB checked. My basic attitude to teaching is pretty much summarised by the proverb:

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.

As a teacher, I believe that the primary responsibility is to pass on skills that enable students to enjoy making maximum progress outside of their lessons. Rather than talk solely about what to do in the moment, I believe in doing everything possible to provide deeper understanding of the guiding principles that reveal WHY- in order to build towards long-term independence. One of the most typical hindrances to learning comes from difficulties with reading notated music- which can sadly impose serious limits on the scope for progress during practise time. After all, how can you improve while the teacher is not there, unless you have a clear picture of what you are actually trying to achieve? While I also place great value upon ear-training, there is no simpler way to be clear on what is needed than to read notated instructions with ease. In particular, I have a developed a number of basic principles that make reading simple- allowing continual improvement on a day-to-day basis. From this starting point, it rapidly becomes possible to devote focus to real piano playing- where, instead of having to place all the focus on figuring out which notes to play, attention can be be diverted to developing individual ideas about musical sound and expression. It's most regrettable that notation is often seen as a barrier to music-making, when it should rightfully be exploited as a gaping doorway through which to access music. Wtih the right approach (based on associating visual distances on the page with a "feel" for the corresponding physical distance on the piano) reading music stops being a matter of cracking a seemingly bizarre code, one note at a time. Instead, whole chunks of information start to become intelligible at a mere glance- allowing rapid access to a wealth of notated music.

EDIT: (See here for a post that I have since written on getting a truly solid foundation behind the basic reading skills)

I have a particular interest in technique (see this list of essays ). However, I speak of technique not in the sense of empty note-spinning or forcing students to practise boring finger drills- but of technique as a means to control sound and execute musical intentions with ease. There are a great many pianists who start very promisingly- only to slowly reach a plateau, that relatively few manage to surpass. With the right approach to technique, I firmly believe that anyone with genuine dedication and perseverance (including late starters) is capable of getting to grade 8 and beyond- provided that they understand the basic fundamentals of healthy and efficient movement. I like to attempt to pass on the most important fundamentals as early as possible- rather than allow bad habits to catch up further down the line.

However, one thing I particularly enjoy is working with students who might feel that they have arrived at such a plateau, or that they are approaching one. By developing a simpler approach to the foundations of movement, such students can often be freed up to reach whole new levels of achievement. If you're frustrated about an inability to control your sound exactly as you wish, if your fingers just feel too "slow" or "weak", or if you have problems with tensions and even pain- why not get in touch to ask about a half-price trial lesson?