Age range of pupils: Age six - no upper age limit!
Levels taught: Beginner - Diploma level
Location of private lessons: Cosham, Portsmouth, Hampshire
My first experiences as a violin teacher were whilst still a student at the Royal Academy of Music - a challenge I was inadequately prepared for at the time. Although I knew some of the theory, I tended to be inflexible in my approach, often imposing on the poor students the perfectionism I had become so used to wielding against myself!
Since then, I have realized that there are much better ways to learn whilst sustaining creativity. I now make use of a wide range of resources appropriate to the individual student: games (for the very young pupils), my own technical exercises and compositions (produced using Sibelius music software), backing tracks recorded onto CD, and I may, in addition to using more conventional resources, make use of a camcorder and/or DVD player to illustrate particular aspects of technique or provide visual / auditory feedback to the student. I also accompany my students on the piano - both during lessons and for exams/auditions etc.
I strongly believe that the real challenge for the teacher of any instrument lies in being able to nurture and facilitate a student's inner musical life - to enable the development of the 'whole' musician, rather than mere technical proficiency. The development of the aural imagination, appreciation of musical form and harmony within the historical context are a few of the tools a musician needs, alongside the ability to create, to experiment spontaneously and to 'play' with the music. The problem, of course, is time - but I always aim to fit in some aspects of the above into regular lessons. It is so important - and hopefully helps to make music 'fun'.
My past and present students have come from every age-group from age five upwards. I have taught people with severe mental health problems, physical disability and special needs such as dyslexia. Having taught abroad, I have had to adapt to those from different cultural backgrounds, as well as overcoming language barriers in a number of cases. Although I have taught in a wide variety of situations throughout the majority of my career, I've also had the chance at various points along the way to take time out from teaching - time which has allowed me to take an objective look at my own playing, attitudes and approaches, and to develop new ways forward.
In my view, if a teacher stops learning, their pupils very soon will too. The process is a two-way partnership of discovery and re-discovery. The principle of life-long learning in conjunction with an attitude of humility is absolutely vital to both teacher and student. Throughout my varied career I have always tried to keep this in view, and have been privileged to have been able to learn from many fine musicians over the years. I've also participated in music psychology courses (given separately by Andreas Burzik, Lucinda MacWorth Young and Inger Murray), and am a part-time postgraduate student at Reading University - on the Mtpp (Music Teaching in Professional Practice) course, leading eventually to an MA in Music Education.