020 8690 5108
Playing the piano can be a lifelong joy. So why are there so many adults who had piano lessons as children, but now never touch the instrument?
Perhaps you are one of them. Perhaps you remember toiling for months over three piano pieces so that you could pass a grade examination, which earned you the right to practise three more pieces for the next few months. No wonder so many people give up.
Pain or pleasure?
Learning the piano should not be drudgery. My pupils, both adults and children, learn to play the music, not just the notes, and to make beautiful sounds which are a pleasure both to the pupil and to the listener, right from the start.
Learning to "read with their ears" means that my pupils need not spend hours in repetitive exercises (and certainly not scales). Instead, they play a wide range of music, and I would expect a beginner to play in the region of a hundred simple pieces in the first year, which hardly allows for boredom.
Children learn unless you stop them from learning. My pupils play because they enjoy creating music, and my policy of not entering pupils for amateur examinations allows them to blossom as musicians, rather than playing three pieces to death for six months in preparation for a grade exam. Pupils who later need to take an examination have no difficulties, being accustomed to my considerably higher standards!
It is certainly a myth that only musically talented people can play well. Many of my pupils have taken up careers in music, some as performers, but the vast majority have learned to play simply for pleasure (their own and other people's). The real joy for me, as a teacher, is to hear the "average" pupil making good music with confidence.
It is well known that Mozart started to play at three (though he did not begin serious composition until he was five). Nevertheless, "the earlier the better" can be taken too far. A child of seven or eight is reading and counting, and is physically developed enough to be able to cope with the instrument, and for these reasons I tend to take pupils from this age onwards. I regard parents as indispensable to a child's musical education: parents are part of the lesson, and are not kept at arm's length. Indeed, musical education does not start with the teacher; there is a great deal that parents can do with younger children to prepare them for formal tuition, and I am always happy to discuss how to make the most of your child's musical ability, long before the child is ready for "real" lessons.
But what if you never had the opportunity as a child, or had lessons and gave up? It's never too late - there are many adults who harbour a secret desire to learn an instrument, and there is no reason why they should not do so, however late in life. Adult beginners bring so much to their piano lessons in the way of musical experience and commitment, and can often outstrip the youngsters in the early months of learning.
I studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, leaving with the following qualifications:
I taught for five years in local schools while building up a private practice, and have been teaching private students at every level for nearly 40 years. I am noted for the use of serious twentieth-century music in my teaching, and this is an area on which I have lectured widely, including overseas.
At present I am the Chairman of the South East London branch of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
Everybody has individual musical needs, and I am always happy to discuss the possibilities. Ring me for a chat on 020 8690 5108, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Links covering various aspects of music, musicians and pianos:
· The Incorporated Society of Musicians is the professional association for musicians in the UK. I have been a member of the ISM for 36 years, and during this period
o I am currently Chairman of the South East London branch of the ISM
o I served on the Council, which is the ISM's ruling body, for eight years
o I was Warden (Chairman) of the Private Teachers' section for a one-year term
o I have served on sundry other committees of the organisation.
· Even if you don't want to buy a piano, you will probably find something of interest on the Links page of the Williams Music Group site.
· There are many web sites about individual composers, but the Kodály Academy site is different because it is not so much about Kodály the composer as about his theories of music education, which have been widely adopted.
· The British Music Information Centre is a resource centre for British contemporary classical music, with a special interest in the works of young composers.
· Classical Music UK provides links to many further sites, plus concert listings for the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican, Wigmore Hall and one or two out-of-London venues.
· Caradines is a piano workshop, specialising in restoration, tuning etc.
· The BBC Radio 3 archives provide a valuable and interesting source of information about composers and musicians.