Category: instrumental teacher

Teaching Rockschool – Drums Debut | Guest Blog

August 1st, 2021 by

This week we’re taking a look at teaching Rockschool Debut Drums with drummer, educator and music psychologist, Michael Hutchinson from Triple-T Drumming based in the North-East of England.

Ready to roll! Michael poses for a picture with one of his drum students

Teaching Rockschool – Drums Debut

Welcome to a quick walkthrough on how to teach drums, starting with with early learners at the very start of their music education. As an instrumental teacher, many of you may not have formal training, and without structural influence teacher training can provide, building a lesson plan can be tough going when you have very little practical experience. We make mistakes and eventually lose students before we discover the right approach for them. Wrong or untrained techniques can lead to a demotivated student and your job – as a teacher is to motivate and inspire – can quickly seem jading and unfulfilling.

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In this article, I am going to take you through a couple of steps that could help you best serve the first students that come to you for help. Hopefully, these ideas will seem like common sense, but at the same time spark some new ideas, and if they do, allow you to implement them into your lessons and see how well they work. Debut grade is the longest and hardest grade to teach for the majority of students, young and old, because it is your learners’ first example of music tuition – so really concentrate on making it fun and exciting, and you’ll always be improving naturally over time.

Duncan Lee performs ‘Z’ from Rockschool Drums Debut on the XYZ Drum Channel

Things to Cover in This Grade

  • Holding the sticks – German, French, Traditional
  • Drum kit layout – Using terminology like ‘drum voice’
  • Counting – Why we count, how we count, understanding industry-standard counting techniques
  • Tempo – Can we keep time naturally, playing to metronome
  • Crotchets/Quarter Notes – both UK and US variants of this value
  • Quavers/Eighth Notes – both UK and US variants of this value
  • Drum Beat in 4/4, using eighth note and quarter note high hat patterns – Let’s play it, let’s count it
  • Moving the bass drum around that basic groove – 1 and 3 to start, then all quarter notes, then all 8th notes, then doubles
  • Rudiments – What are rudiments? Why is this knowledge useful?
  • Single Strokes in Quavers
  • Double Strokes in Quavers
  • Paradiddles in Quavers

“You can encourage reading music by standing next to the music stand and with a pencil point to the notes as they play. Younger students will take longer to master this skill, where you’re older students and adults may get this quicker.”

Reading Music

Reading music is possibly the hardest thing to teach, especially early on. In my experience, a student at this level will find it really challenging to look at the music and play the drums at the same time. Do not rush into reading music before you have both explored the drum kit first; got the grooves going; and have some fun! When you feel the student is ready, then introduce the scripted music bit by bit, recording their successes as you go.

Tip: You can encourage reading music by standing next to the music stand and with a pencil point to the notes as they play. Younger students will take longer to master this skill, where you’re older students and adults may get this quicker.

Stephan Seiler Drums plays through the Rockschool Drums Debut track “My Name Is” from Eminem

Passing the Exam

To successfully pass this grade, the student needs to be familiar with all of the above (see ‘Things to Cover in This Grade’), and more importantly, feel comfortable with all of the technical aspects before they can even think about entering an exam room. Using RSL books in conjunction with the above will help the student achieve a solid pass; however, they must feel comfortable, and that is your job as the teacher to get them to that level. Judging their ability to feel calm enough to perform whilst being watched by someone new is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Remember, this doesn’t, and shouldn’t, be something to fear. But, that means ensuring that every box is ticked, including mental prep before the big day.

The student must enjoy the song to play it well, and as a teacher, you should actively encourage your students to listen to the grade songs and choose four songs (3 for the exam and 1 spare) which they can identify with in some way. Never force a song onto a student if they don’t connect with it of any level.

Encouraging Personal Discovery

I’ll ask a question. Are you sure your way, is the right way? All students will have their quirks; and all players and educators will have them too! If you are teaching a technique, ensure that you’ve done your research on that specific technique, and identify any potential gaps in your approach. As educators, we must remember to expand our own knowledge over time. There is always something you don’t know that could improve you as a teacher, and in turn, the experiences of your students.

REPLAY! RSL’s interactive sheet music player gives you the ability to jam along with your favourite Rockschool performance pieces

Take stick grip, for example. Let’s take the ‘German Grip’: I have seen so many different variants of this grip, and I know I have changed my own approach over time to match my ergonomic style. Thanks to training from guys like Paul Elliott (Rockschool composer, educator and session player) and Gabor Dornyei, I have learned how to hold the sticks correctly, while adjusting to my own bodies specific dynamics. I do not teach my German Grip technique; I teach my guided version of the method, or more importantly, the correct technique, which should provide the best platform for a young player to grow and learn effectively.

Slow-Mo: Drummer, Stephen Taylor‘s ‘German Grip’ video breaks the technique down

Good advice and correct technique training should explain to the student the right way of completing the technique, but that it’s also ok to change certain aspects of it to match their body style. Never teach an idiosyncrasy specific to you, but create an open forum where they can decide what works for them over time.

About the Author:

Michael Hutchinson is a drummer, educator, and music psychologist from the North East of England. He runs Triple-T Drumming school of drums and has been teaching privately for 12 years. He is currently researching drumming from a psychological point of view studying with Sheffield University, music psychology in education performance and wellbeing and his main interest is drumming and its effects on working memory.

Teaching Rockschool Drums – Grade 1 | Guest Blog

March 5th, 2020 by

Welcome to the second instalment from drum tutor and guest blogger, Michael Hutchinson, on how to teach Rockschool Grade 1 Drums.

Your student has moved forward from Rockschool Drums Debut to Rockschool Drums Grade 1… let us celebrate! Grade 1 is a significant achievement for them and you. They can successfully read music and play their instrument, and as their teacher you now need to focus attention onto the more delicate movements and technicality of playing the drums.

What to teach in Grade 1?

Grade 1 is about building speed and acquiring the skills to move around the drum kit.

It would be best if you were focusing teaching technique on:

  • Hi-hat openings – open the hi-hat on all the quarter notes, and then on all the eighth notes and then freely when improvising
  • Bass drum independence – placing the bass drum on all the quarter notes, all eighth
    notes, and then doubles in eighth notes, once comfortable then freely while improvising
  • Cymbal crashes – with the lead hand and non-lead hand
  • Ride cymbal – including ride line embellishments and playing on the bell of the ride in quarter notes
  • Drum fills – eighth note fills, and sixteenth note fills in single strokes, double strokes and paradiddles, using the full drum kit and make use of exploring drum sounds. The student will be able to identify musical notation from debut grade, so allow them to navigate through the chosen piece by themselves, with guidance from you, if needed, however, there is some new notation within grade 1 you need to explain.
  • Repeat signs within the piece
  • Ride cymbal
  • Bell of the ride notation
  • Hi-hat opening and closing
  • Crash cymbal
  • Ties – e.g. allowing a cymbal to ring on

Music theory to reiterate

  • Time signature – what does the top number mean (Numerator – Beats per bar) and what does the bottom number mean (Denominator – Note value)?
  • BPM – beats per minute

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Practice plan

It’s now an excellent time to start getting that practice plan in place, starting with time management. How long should a student practise? Intrinsic practice is what you aim for, and the student needs to want to practise rather than forced to practise.

Fifteen minutes is a good start, starting with a warmup and ending with a cool down, preferably playing a song that they want to play, with the middle section focusing on lesson content, a section of the piece, or a technique the student struggles on which was identified in the lesson. Practice should be aimed at feeling comfortable with the rehearsal set out and not aimed at speed, unless this is what is lacking.

A good practice plan should involve some or all of the below:

  • Listening to the piece that the student is learning – familiarising the student with listening to the piece they are learning allows them to prepare mental strategies and performance cues when they play the song live
  • Repetition practice – going over the bar or exercises including rudiments over and over to place into long term memory will allow them to access this information in performance using implicit (unconscious) memory
  • Counting out loud – note value, the rhythm of the piece, allows the student to hear what they are trying to play, which allows the processing of this information to sit within auditory memory and can be used as a performance cue
  • Reading music – This allows the student to become aware of reading notes and identifying patterns but also allows visual memory of the piece they are playing which, again, can be used in mental strategies to prepare for performance
  • Implicit practice – I would say that this is the most important variant of any practice. The student needs to want to practise, without feeling that it is “homework” or a chore.

  • About the Author:

    Michael Hutchinson is a drummer, educator, and music psychologist from the North East of England. He runs Triple-T Drumming school of drums and has been teaching privately for 12 years. He is currently researching drumming from a psychological point of view studying with Sheffield University, music psychology in education performance and wellbeing and his main interest is drumming and its effects on working memory.

RSL’s Top 10 Ukulele Songs

January 22nd, 2020 by

What are the Best Ukulele Songs? Check out RSL’s top 10 performances that are here to argue the case for the often much-maligned (wrongly!) four-stringed instrument, the Ukulele.

Before digging into our list of the best ukulele songs, we’d like to give you a few historical notes on this fascinating instrument. The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument, which was introduced to the Hawaiians by Portuguese immigrants, primarily from Madeira and the Azores. It gained great popularity elsewhere in the United States during the early 20th century and spread internationally from there. The tone and volume of the instrument vary with size and construction, with the Ukulele commonly coming in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

Rockschool Ukulele: You can currently study Rockschool Ukulele up to grade 3

The ukulele has since become a largely mass-produced, plastic instrument, manufactured by the millions throughout the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, which has since led to the ukulele receiving a fair share of scorn from musicians ever since. As far as we’re concerned, this criticism is wholly unfair. So, in defence of the ukulele, RSL HQ have put their collective minds together to present our 10 top performances that highlight the versatility and unique expression of the diminutive, but effective, Ukulele.

Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr — Ain’t She Sweet

Taken from the 1995 Anthology documentary series, the surviving Beatles get together on a summer day in George’s garden. Harrison, who was a big fan of the ukulele, leads this casual sing-along of “Ain’t She Sweet,” a call-back to a song the gang used to perform in their early years. We’re sure you’ll agree, it’s lovely to see them all gathered around a uke for a cup of tea and a sing-song. In Hawaii, where Harrison owned a retreat (and where he was known as ‘Keoki’), it’s said he bought ukuleles in batches and gave them away. The story may be legend, but it’s a nice image to remember him by all the same. And this is definitely one of the best ukulele songs!

Queen – Good Company

While Brian May is best-known for his electric guitar acrobatics, he also played the ukulele on some of Queen’s material, one being “Good Company” from the band’s breakthrough LP, ‘A Night at the Opera’. May first began the song during his early school years when he first learned to play the uke. One of the main features of the song is that it contains a recreation of a jazz band in Dixieland style which was provided by May’s Red Special guitar played through a Deacy Amp. This is also one of the few Queen songs without Freddie Mercury participating at all!

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World (Medley)

It would be extremely remiss of us not to include this track in our list of the best ukulele songs. Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. Known to his fans as ‘Iz’, the Hawaiian musician passed away in 1997, but his medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” has become ingrained in Hawaiian culture. It’s become so popular, it is now the most requested version of the song by far, according to EMI publishing. That’s quite remarkable for a rendition with one voice, accompanied only by ukulele!

Eddie Vedder — Sleeping by Myself

The Pearl Jam front-man, Eddie Vedder, has always had a huge soft spot for the uke. ‘Soon Forget’, which featured on the bands ‘Binaural’ album released in 2000, contained a solo track accompanied by a uke, which served as a preview to Vedder’s solo project, ‘Ukulele Songs’ (2011), which comprised of his unmistakable vocals over a Ukulele only. ‘Sleeping by Myself’ is one of the album’s most popular tracks; a beautiful, forlorn and folky composition that highlights Vedder as an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right.

Taimane Gardner — Beethoven, System of a Down, Led and ACDC Medley

Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Taimane Gardner, has been playing since she was knee-high to Don Ho. She was quite literally discovered by the Hawaiian music icon before going on to study under another in Jake Shimabukuro (who also appears on this list) even before he himself rode his ukulele magic to world stardom. You can check her out here as she tears through compositions from Beethoven, System of a Down, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC is one of her many, super-impressive uke-medleys. Would you add it to your own list of the Best Ukulele Songs of all time?

Jake Shimabukuro — While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Racking up almost 17 million views on YouTube, the YouTube uke classic is one of the site’s first viral videos! This clip introduced modern day ukulele virtuoso and Honolulu native, Jake Shimabukuro, to the world. Since then, Jake has become a living legend of the instrument, and this is the video that started it all. For those who’d like to dig a little deeper, an award-winning documentary was released in 2012 tracking his life, career, and music, titled ‘Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings.’ Go check it out!

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – Psycho Killer (Talking Heads Cover)

The Orchestra was formed in 1985 as a bit of fun, but after the first gig was an instant sell-out, they have been performing ever since. By 1988 they had released an LP, appeared on BBC TV, played at WOMAD and recorded a BBC Radio 1 session. The current ensemble has been playing together for over 20 years, and has become something of a national institution. Below, you can revel in their endearing version of Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’, which was performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms in 2009. You can watch this, and all the other performances from the night on their DVD “Prom Night”.

Honoka & Azita — Bodysurfing

Honoka Katayama and Azita Ganjali were 15 and 13, respectively, when this jaw-dropping display of ukulele ingenuity appeared on YouTube of the pair performing a killer cover of Ohta-San’s “Bodysurfing” on a gorgeous beach in their native Hawaii. The duo were named MVPs of the 2013 International Ukulele Contest in Honolulu and — as you’ll be able to see from the video below — it’s easy to see why from their playing. After the contest, they opened for the popular music festival in Okinawa, Japan, and regularly performed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Honolulu.

James Hill — Billie Jean

James Hill, an award-winning ukulele player and songwriter hailing from Canada, has been called a “ukulele wunderkind,” and an artist who “gives the ukulele its dignity back without ever taking himself too seriously.” Performing live for a crowd in California, Hill and his “imaginary band” illustrate these comments perfectly during an enchanting version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” With just a uke, Hill plays the bass line, percussion, and piano parts. Put it all together, and you have a fascinating one-man ukulele performance, and one of the best ukulele songs.

Noah & The Whale – 5 Years’ Time (Sun, Sun, Sun)

No, this isn’t a trailer for the latest Wes Anderson film – it’s the ultra-catchy, top 10 hit from 2007 by Noah & the Whale! Since it was uploaded to YouTube on 13 June 2008, and as of January, 2020, it has been viewed almost 12 million times. The singer-songwriter sensation, Laura Marling, provides backing vocals on this track. Only a teenager at the time, Laura used to often perform with Noah and the Whale before striking out on her own. She also went out with frontman Charlie Fink for a time with the bands second album, ‘First Days of Spring’ being a concept record based on Fink’s emotional meltdown after their eventual split.

As some of you may already be aware, Rockschool’s second instalment of their Method Book series will focus on the Ukulele in 2020, with plans to extend the grade exams all the way up to grade 8 already in the development phase. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on our social channels very soon!

Quick Tips: Choosing a Free Choice Piece | Guest Blog

January 15th, 2020 by

A really fun and engaging part of Rockschool’s grade exams is the option to perform a track you love that does not appear on the current syllabus material.

A ‘Free Choice Piece’, or ‘FCP’, is an additional performance piece that can be chosen to showcase your skill level at the particular grade instead of one of the tracks already assigned by Rockschool. But, how do you decide if what you’ve chosen is the right track?

This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MGR Music by Leigh Fuge

You’ve worked really hard towards your final performance, so it would be a massive shame if your FCP was the thing that brought your marks down. So, with this in mind, I thought it would be really beneficial for many teachers and their candidates if I took the time to concentrate on how to look at Rockschool’s criteria for choosing your FCP’s, and how to ensure that you pick the right track before your grade performance.

How Many Free Choice Pieces Can I Play?

All candidates of Graded Music Exams can perform a maximum of two free choice pieces in addition to one performance piece from the Rockschool grade book for each level. If you are taking a Performance Certification Exam however, you are allowed to perform a maximum of three free choice pieces alongside two Rockschool grade book pieces. The criteria for choosing a piece is that is must be a popular genre such as pop, rock, blues, country, metal (and, of course, any other that you can think of!) and should contain enough content that displays the technical and musical competence for the specific grade you are working on. Original compositions are also acceptable, again, providing they meet the criteria for that grade, as stated in the official Rockschool guidelines.

Quick Tip: if a student approaches you with a piece they’d like to consider, but it doesn’t tick all the boxes, as a teacher you could work with the student to find a similar piece by the same artist that they may feel comfortable using in its place.

Positive Prep: a student and teacher at The Rhythm Studio break down a Rockschool Drums piece

Rockschool Criteria

If you are looking for a starting place, check out this great resource on Free Choice Pieces which provides a downloadable list for each instrument type. This instrument based guide will break down the criteria that a piece of each level should contain. It goes into a lot of detail that you can then use to aptly cross-reference with your chosen track(s) to determine if it’s suitable for the grade in question.

Each entry will list the skills and techniques that must be included, as well as any other techniques that has been specifically included within the compositions produced by Rockschool in each book. Finally, it will also give an indication of the theoretical understanding required. For example, the grade 8 electric guitar criteria states that the candidate should have “complete mastery of the fretboard”. Although this could seem quite a broad statement, it is something you must consider when asking yourself “does my track do a good job in demonstrating this?”.


Backing Tracks

All free choice pieces must be played with a backing track with the part you are performing removed so that the examiner can hear your playing clearly. The feasible availability of a good backing track must also be a part of the consideration process, and can often be overlooked when choosing.

Do not start practising a FCP for your upcoming exam until you have secured the backing track first. It may all be a waste of time, and cause you unnecessary stress, in a time when you should be enjoying your playing and looking forward to the challenge presented by the exam. As a seasoned Rockschool teacher, you should be able to check the piece against the assessment criteria to make sure that it ticks all the relevant boxes; but if you have any concerns at all, contact RSL straight away and the Academic Team will be more than happy to help you assess your progress.

About the Author:

This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MGR Music by Leigh Fuge, a professional guitarist, tutor and journalist from Wales in the UK. He has been working in the music industry for over 10 years as a touring and studio musician with various artists, guitar tutor and writer for many high profile guitar publications. Read more of Leigh’s pieces relating to Rockschool here…

Rockschool Stories | Ed Black

October 21st, 2019 by

After using Rockschool to learn the guitar, Ed decided to pass on his expertise as a teacher at the tender age of 15! Ed kindly took a moment to answer some questions about how he manages his time as an educator, session musician and solo artist.

Why did you decide to start teaching music?

I started teaching at the age of around 15 to the children of my mums friends. At first, I found it quite daunting but it was also a really enjoyable challenge to have. I stuck with it and I quickly warmed to it once I started seeing results. Music has been my passion from a young age, so to get the opportunity to share that passion with people of all ages, children and adults alike, and hopefully inspire them to learn is now a great privilege.

Period C Rockschool Deadline

Why did you decide to teach using Rockschool?

I used Rockschool when I was growing up and thoroughly enjoyed the syllabus, so teaching it to others just seemed like an obvious step. All the pupils I teach want to learn everything about contemporary music, which Rockschool perfectly caters to, so it’s an ideal resource for what my students want to achieve. Prospective pupils have been able to find me online through the Rockschool Teacher Registry and start lessons straight away as well. It really helps that they’re aware of the material and why it’s the right choice for them before we even start.

How have your lessons changed over time?

I have learnt that all pupils are unique and that some take longer to learn certain things than others. I have also learnt that it takes time to get certain aspects of the Guitar sounding perfect, and thus that a lot of early guitar playing doesn’t need to sound perfect, it’s about getting that student to really focus on the technique itself. For me, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all teaching method, I approach each pupil’s syllabus differently and endeavour to steer lesson content towards the individual. The fundamental elements will always remain the same, but how people navigate those topics can vary a lot.

We saw on Instagram that you supported the Stereophonics! How did that come about?

I work as a session guitarist alongside my teaching business. Last year I was playing guitar for singer/songwriter ‘Ten Tonnes’ and one of the tours was supporting the Stereophonics! It was an incredible experience.

Ed (far right) on tour with Ten Tonnes

You also write and release your own original material – can you give us an overview of your work as an artist up to present day?

I have two solo projects. One as a folk/acoustic singer-songwriter, for which I have released two EPs (one live) and three singles. I have performed at a number of festivals across the UK and support slots in London, and have been played regularly on BBC Introducing Merseyside (I am from Chester originally). My second project is as a producer under the name ‘edbl’, which is more R&B/Hip-Hop orientated and features a number of guest vocals. I have released three singles all of which have been played on BBC Introducing London and one BBC Radio 1xtra. Teaching is a really good option to fit around personal projects like this. I’d advise any musician to take a look into taking on their own students as it’s a really fulfilling way to pass on your knowledge and earn some money in the process.

Last year must’ve been super-exiting given that you toured with George Ezra and Ten
Tonnes – how was the whole experience?

Last year was the most live shows I’ve done in a year – over 100 in total. It was incredible! With Ten Tonnes we did three support tours back to back at the beginning of the year, then UK festival circuit throughout the summer, which led into a bus tour supporting George Ezra in the UK and Europe. The whole year was amazing and it was such a great experience to do so many shows, to so many different crowds of music fans in the UK and abroad. Hopefully my students see that as something they call also achieve themselves if they put the hours in.

You’ve had some of your music played on BBC1 extra and BBC radio London. Could you give our followers an idea of the journey from recording a track to having it played on the radio?

I record everything in my home – I have a basic setup: monitors, interface, mic etc, and
I use Logic for mixing/producing. Once the tracks are ready I use AWAL – a distribution service – to get my songs onto streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. I also upload each track to the BBC Introducing uploader, which actually led to playing at the BBC Introducing events in both London and Merseyside. The 1xtra play came about because I emailed my track directly to Jamz Supernova and she very kindly got back to me, said she liked my stuff and played it! A lot of the time with these things it’s about taking advantage of as much as you can, whether that’s networks supporting young artists or a radio producers email address someone has passed onto you.

How do you balance life as a musician and a music teacher?

I find that the two complement each other nicely. The teaching occupies my time on
weeknights for which I am usually free. If I am touring then I always have the flexibility to come back to teaching once the trip’s over. You’ve obviously got to be organised and respectful of your students’ time, but I’ve always found it works really well.

What advice would you give to any young musician now who might see this and think about teaching music themselves?

I would definitely say: get into teaching now! If you’re passionate about music and
proficient on your instrument (or instrument!) then there is no reason not to pass it on. It’s a great way to meet people who share your enthusiasm for creativity, and it also provides regular income which is really important when you’re starting out.

Would you like to give our readers an update of any upcoming projects?

I have one more single coming out under ‘edbl’, featuring a rapper called Kofi Stone. Other than that I would just say please feel free to check out either of my projects (Ed Black/edbl) and let me know what you think!

If you’d like to check out Ed’s music, or contact him about his teaching, you can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Spotify NOW.

Period C Rockschool Deadline

Rockschool Stories | Tony Stevenson – Tony’s Tuition

October 18th, 2019 by

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.

Period C Rockschool Deadline

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!

RSL attends MMA Conference 2018

May 10th, 2018 by

The MMA Conference is back!

We are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at this year’s MMA National Music Teaching Conference! The conference will be a three day event from 18th-20th May 2018, and will be held at Eton College (Berkshire). The MMA conference connects an array of music education professionals from music administrators, instrumental teachers and heads of department.

We’re always eager to attend events that present a great opportunity for music education professionals to network effectively with inspirational people from inside the music industry. If you would like to share ideas on good practice, develop your classroom skills, and participate in industry-focused activities – then please feel free to come along.

As many more music education professionals react to the rapid growth in the Music Production market, we’re finding that interested parties can find themselves feeling lost when it comes to introducing it in their current teaching timetable. This year, Music Producer expert Sam Vasanth will be representing Rockschool to help you with this very task, with a seminar on the RSL Music Production syllabus, which provides an overview of all the elements featured in the grade exam.

RSL’s Strategy Manager, Dan Francis, will also be in attendance to present an overview of how the material fits within the wider context of each school level, and how it can be used alongside other exams, such as the EPQ qualification.

To view the full programme timetable – just click here.

We’ll see you there!

The RSL Team