With over 11 years teaching experience and over 20 years as a guitar player, 29 year old Tony Stevenson has been using Rockschool resources alongside his own teaching methods to inspire and educate music students throughout the East Midlands.
Tony sits down for a lesson with one of his students
What made you choose Rockschool’s resources for your music lessons?
I studied Rockschool as a child, teenager and still now as an adult. I’ve always had a keen interest in the tracks produced, the setup and structure of the syllabus and the exams process. I have experience using RGT and ABRSM as both a student and a teacher, but I find Rockschool’s syllabus and style much more appealing for what I’d like to achieve as a musician and an educator. I started teaching my first Rockschool grades to music students in 2016, and haven’t looked back!
Why did you start teaching music and what do you enjoy most about it?
My teaching journey began at a local primary school, shortly after graduating from university with my music degree. During this time, I joined up with a company that taught group guitar lessons as a way to earn some extra income and take on a new challenge. I really enjoyed it and quickly became quite a proficient tutor. Shortly after I started working at a music school in the Midlands area. This completely overtook my primary school career as I found it to be a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Unfortunately, the owner decided to move south and take the business with him, which forced me to take on some of the clients myself, who I taught at my home on a 1-1 basis. After doing this for a little while, I realised this was the direction I wanted to take my career in 2015/16, and thus began my self-employed guitar teaching journey! I now host multiple student showcases, and have recently taken on my 40th student!
What I enjoy most about my career as a music teacher is working with students that have an enthusiasm to learn from the outset because of how passionate they are about the subject. Back in primary school most kids would enjoy the lessons, but, naturally there would always be groups of kids that had very little interest in what was being taught. It didn’t resonate with them personally, which is probably the same reason that drove me to specialise my own teaching. As a 1-1 tutor, I know the students coming to me come because they have a keen interest in music and want to emulate those they look up to. This makes my job much more enjoyable and its really rewarding every time I get to see these students succeed – regardless of age or skill level.
What has been your most memorable teaching experience?
The most memorable situation for me was my first student showcase. Whilst very nerve racking, the turnout was great and it was a smashing success. Seeing my students up on stage in-front of 100 odd people for the first time was really special. Not only were they performing their own song choices and grade pieces publicly, they openly conversed about their own experiences and we all had a lot of fun afterwards. It was an experience I’ll never forget. This is something I now replicate every six months, and I’ve even begun collaborating with another music teacher, giving us even a larger show, with more attendees. It’s great to see this event grow and how it serves to unify the local community of music students and their teachers.
How do you think students can benefit from gaining Rockschool grade exams?
Over the years I have also devised my own curriculum that I use alongside the Rockschool syllabus. When speaking with a student about transferring over to Rockschool, one of the biggest points I always mention is that a Rockschool grade is an internationally recognised qualification that can help confirm their progress. If my student were to speak with another musician and say “I’m a moderate level 8 student with Tony’s Tuition”, it doesn’t tell them as much as “I’ve passed Grade 8 Rockschool Guitar”. The skills are more instantly recognisable and benchmarked, making them instantly more transferable. The Rockschool grades also look great on a students’ CV, with the added extra of credits towards university. This is why I push students to move on to the curriculum, if it matches their ambition.
How has the RSL’s Teacher Registry benefited your business?
Whilst being on multiple registries, the RSL registry is a direct route. This should hopefully mean they’ve also researched Rockschool in some detail, and thus know exactly what to expect. It’s such a simple, clean and easy platform to use. It’s very user friendly. I’d highly recommend it to other budding Rockschool teachers.
What advice would you give to someone using Rockschool material for the first time?
Research! Thoroughly research the grading material, use the Rockschool companion guides, and make sure you have some grades under your own belt so you know first-hand exactly what kind of advice to give your students as they prepare for an exam.
What advice would you give to new music teachers just starting out?
Scaffolding! Structure absolutely everything in bite-sized pieces. One of my mistakes when taking on my first student, was to glaze over everything I knew. I found that by rushing through each piece of material to ‘keep it fresh’, I actually had given myself less scope to teach after a few months. Realistically, the student could barely remember anything they’d been taught other than basics, because everything was too rushed. Take each piece slowly, and get them playing along to the backing tracks as soon as you can (even if it’s only a very small section like the introduction), this always helps build their confidence.
A big thanks to Tony for giving us his time. If you’d like to inquire into his music teaching services, you can find his RSL Teacher Registry profile here!
You can also visit Tony’s Tuition online by clicking on the logo below!