Onwards and upwards
So my journey continues to this day… I left music school 2 years in to degree. At the time, I was going through a lot of personal struggles and also hated the compositional devices I was using. I wanted to transfer to piano teaching but my teacher said I would have to study more to get my skills up. I deferred for a semester but never went back. Instead, I moved interstate, got married, had kids…
But music never completely left during that time. I decided to make a cd of my own songs, which I started composing while still at college. I remember the day I decided to do it; I played and sang a song of mine in beg classes, not knowing that my lecturer and some students were listening. The comment I got was “well, if you have so much passion like that, maybe you should leave here and make a cd” And I did, although I didn’t plan that straight away. But in 2003, I did just that. It was a great experience. I also performed my own music at a local christian cafe which is no longer. Those were fantastic days… I have fond memories of that time… but I wouldn’t do it again as my interest has changed.
I didn’t do too much for the first 5 years after my first child was born, but then I realised I had to get back to it. God has given me a gift, and it seemed a waste not to use it. It was also something I loved. So i joined our church choir, started lessons again and the rest is history…
Teaching was not something that came naturally to me. My first few students were my own kids, and I learnt quite a bit from them before test driving it on other students. I find beginners challenging as they cant always read well and need help. I spoke to my blind teacher from years ago about it, and she told me this is why she will not take children under 7 years. Our students need to be able to read well so we can work out where they are on the page if we need too.
Having said all that, my first real student was only 4, and I knew that music reading was not going to happen. Why should it if she couldn’t even read the written word yet? I thought I would teach her by rote, and then introduce music reading later on. We had a lot of fun during lessons, and she loved coming. She could play lots of small pieces most of which I made up myself, or things like “Mary had a little lamb”. We also played duets, and I would play along with her, making up a left her part. I also made sure she always got to play my assortment of percussion instruments, chimes bars and the like, doing echo games, rhythm games and also jam along to what ever I could make up on the piano. It was like magic and I loved every moment of it. Unfortunately, she left 12 months later never to be seen again.
Since then I have taught mostly adults and students who already could read some music. A few worked towards exams, learning the exam pieces. Some just wanted to play a bit of classical or pop music for fun. I biggest challenge in doing these students was getting a hold of the materials they wanted to learn. I can get all the AMEB piano series 17 from vision Australia (i think) but pop music is another story. There is very little a part from old songs like “love me tender” etc. I’d be in heaven if I had access to the stuff teachers have. So with those pieces, I ask the student to email me some song ideas they would like to learn. I then go crazy with YouTube, listening to versions of the song. I then write out the melody line, and the chords that go with it as best I can. This means I can work the the student. ! Times it works and some times not. Sometimes the song is too complex for me to transcribe quickly in which case I just go with the flow.
Right now, I only have a few students but hope to really get things moving this year. I have had as many as 7 in one week at one stage, so I know it is possible. I’m also hoping to target the online learning space, as well as disabled students.