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I teach singing and piano to people of all ages and levels from Cheam in Surrey – and have been a singing and piano teacher for over 30 years.

I teach up to Grade 6 piano and Grade 8 singing – for both the Associated Board and Trinity exams. I also teach singing to Diploma level for Advanced Students.

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I have been a professional singer for nearly 40 years, having trained at the Royal College of Music, and am a member of English National Opera.

I teach because I really enjoy it. However, because of my work as a professional singer, I have a limited amount of teaching sessions available.

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Learning performance skills is critical

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Technique is important but it’s not enough on its own. Sometimes one can listen to a pianist or a singer and, although their technique is excellent, there’s something missing from their performance.

So audiences end up feeling the performance is flat and uninteresting. My role as a teacher is to help my pupils develop their performance skills as well as their technical skills.

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This allows them to breathe life into the music they’re playing or performing – which means not just that performing becomes more enjoyable but that they can also give more satisfaction to their audiences.

An additional benefit is that it helps them pass their music exams!

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The benefits of learning a musical skill

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There are many benefits to learning the piano or learning to sing. Some apply to both skills:

  • learning a musical skill is something that will stay with a child for life. Being able to enjoy and appreciate music is very enriching – and being able to entertain other people is something that can also prove very useful
  • while practice can be a solitary occupation, music is essentially a social experience and it’s a great way of meeting up with other people who play other instruments or who want to sing together
  • music is as much a language as French or German – and it’s an immensely complex one at that. Learning the language of music helps concentration and also develops an inner discipline that will benefit a person in anything else they learn

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  • music is fantastic for helping children to learn how to express themselves and their emotions. It’s particularly good for teenagers, who can channel emotions and adolescent angst into their music and therefore have a way of getting their feelings out
  • getting better at the piano or at singing teaches a child that effort brings results – and that’s probably one of the best lessons that any child can learn
  • practice helps develop problem-solving skills because it’s all about working out what’s going wrong so you can work on your weaknesses and eventually get over them.

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My approach

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Music has been central to my life and I get great satisfaction from helping other people develop their musical abilities and widen their musical experiences. Here are some of the elements of my teaching approach:

  • I combine a sense of humour with being quite demanding. Learning should be fun because boredom is the enemy of learning any musical skill. But I also make sure there’s discipline and focus in my lessons, so lots of learning gets done.
  • I think it’s important to include variety both within lessons and between them. I’ll alternate intense bursts of very focused work with less intense tasks to keep concentration levels high. I’ll also vary the focus of lessons.
  • – it’s vital that pupils are regularly taught basic skills like sight reading, oral tests and counting – and that these disciplines are not ignored until just before exams. These are foundational skills that need to be treated seriously.

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– each lesson is tailored not just to the personality of the pupil but also to their emotional state in each individual lesson. Someone who’s feeling confident needs a different approach to someone who’s having a temporary dip in enthusiasm. I find it very satisfying to work out what makes someone tick and then to transfer that understanding into helping them learn more effectively.

– I make sure that pupils are taken out of their comfort zone regularly so they are continually challenged in a positive way, and have a chance to develop. However I also make sure that I don’t challenge them excessively or end up making them stressed

– I also focus a great deal on teaching performance skills as becoming a better performer is the key to becoming a better singer or pianist. I’ve explained more about the importance of performance skills in this article.

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