Like many aspects of our lives, music is difficult to define because any attempt to pin it down seems fraught with caveats and contradictions. Music is organised sound.. and so is speech. Music doesn’t require words but very often uses them. Music is often described as a universal language, but pieces from one place, time or culture can seem irrelevant or difficult to understand from the perspective of another. Music can be totally engaging, grabbing the listener and connecting directly to their innermost private thoughts and feelings, or it can be a noise in the background that allows the brain a canvas upon which to get on with other things. It can be direct and in your face, or mercurial and other-worldly.
Music can have a point, but it doesn’t have to have one. And, this is something that I try to bear in mind all the time when I meet students for the first time: each and every individual has a unique relationship with music; they each consume music in different ways for differing reasons, and they each have their own ideas about what types of music they would like to make and how they would prefer to go about that. In other words, the process of supporting a student along their musical journey is determined by who that student is, what they want to achieve and how they feel they can be helped.
I also think about this when it comes to music exams: some people love the narrowly defined structure of the graded music exam system because it gives them something to aim for, and a ‘course’ to work through. Of course, I’m totally thrilled to be able to help people with this process, guiding them through the examination requirements, working on pieces and exercises together etc. But, I always keep in the forefront of my mind the reason that most people choose to get involved with making music in the first place, and that’s to have fun. Music is a leisure pursuit so although the exam system can provide a long term structure to learning an instrument, it is only one strand of a much larger set of activities, many of which most students would like to be able to access in time. Even when students choose to work through their piano or guitar grades, I try to offer them ‘enrichment’ opportunities – supplementary pieces and exercises, other goals to aim for such as community performances or recordings etc.
Furthermore, I make clear my position on the results of the exams that they sit: yes, of course everyone would like to get a good grade and make all their hours of practise worthwhile. But the priority for me is that the process is an enjoyable one, and that students are able to walk away from the exam room knowing that they’ve done themselves proud by playing as well as they were able (in the circumstances). And that they’ve learned lots from the overall experience.
The bottom line is that the result (pass, merit, distinction) isn’t really that important in the scheme of things!
Available slots for the forthcoming week
As usual, if you see a free slot that you would like to use, just drop me a text on 07746637472.
- Monday 7th June
It’s a busy one this week so unfortunately there’s very limited space free to book (!). However, if things change as the week progresses then I’ll put updates on my Facebook page.