Minds for Moulding.
This is my second blog. I wanted to talk a little bit about teaching students guitar and piano, what kinds of students I have come across, my methods and how I think the teaching industry is doing and will do in the future.
I first got into teaching when I decided enough was enough in the bank and I was tired of the rightful abuse customers were giving us, Banks are a joke who are in the “Service industry” haha, they couldn’t care less about customers. Anyway my 5 years served awarded me with a chance to go and become a teacher so thats what I did and enrolled in the Higher Diploma course of Music Teaching at Griffith College Dublin. This was a decent course, it had its good things like a Jazz piano class (bit unfair on singers, flautists etc who hadn’t a notion) but excellent for me being a pianist already. Some bad things like Phycology ‘Nature vs Nurture” yeh yeh we’ve done this lark before, ill settle it now. Kids to Adults that are unreal at music for example Mozart, Chuck Berry, Prince and Michael Jackson etc., they are all pure Nature the ones that practise every single day for 20 years will never be as good its just a fact sorry. Its very easy to see when a student comes in even after one lesson who has it or not already.
Piano is my first instrument, i have been playing since I was 6. Although it is my favourite, it is not my favourite to teach. The system is so dated its beyond belief. The Royal Irish Academy should be rebranded and the syllabus needs to be thrown out. It hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Myself and my mum both learned Fur Elise, As much as I love it, that is crazy to think my mother had it on her syllabus back in the 60s. the kids today couldn’t give a rats about Shubert or Handel. I am one of few who enjoy classical music but I can see when I am teaching the majority of kids can’t stand it, They want to play Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. What is more important? In my view to be able for them to get better at playing their instrument you need to keep them happy and love what they are learning so they will intern practice more often. Any first lesson I have with a new student is “What do you like” and “Who is your top 10”.
Music will never go away, Its always changing, the same way fashion never dies. More and more people are trying new things out. Shows like X factor and the voice do not help. Children don’t see the music they just see the fame. There was a study done in the UK in which they asked children at school. What do you want to be when you grow up??. 54% of them said “I want to be famous”. Non specific. You can be famous for anything today with Viral videos etc. Anyone who idolises groups like Steps or the Spice girls or Boyzone have been conned with excellent marketing and exact same chord progressions churned out in a different sequence. We need to give these children an outlet to challenge themselves and work hard and create create create. There is one kid I teach whom is 9 and I can tell you right now he is genius and will become something special if given the right guidance, remember the name Hugh Morgan.
All my lessons are based around these topics Rhythm, Ear, Sight, fingering, theory and games. Sadly some teachers do not use all of these and are doing their students a disservice. From a business aspect, engaging with the parents is massive. Having a relationship with the parents can bring in big business and word of mouth spreads. I spent 1,000 euro on 10,000 flyers for my school and I got 4 phone calls. From the 4 student I have turned it into 25 through word of mouth.
I have to say though its the most enjoyable job I have ever had, to watch students progress and perform from nothing is a wonderful feeling. Some of my students are now writing their own songs and they are awesome, I might post one of them here some day, I am always buzzing coming out of a lesson, after that though its down to the student and their parents to practice and get better.
Lastly, Music should be in ever school in the country, I mean why not? It is a lot more useful to people than Maths and Irish to name a few. Especially teenagers who are largely unhappy with school and the pressure, Music gives them a platform to express and a healthy escape from the already massive stresses they go through.
“One good thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain” Bob Marley