Category: Music Education

Rockschool Success Story | Henry Chauhan

May 14th, 2021 by

At RSL, we LOVE to celebrate the talented musicians that have made the journey through our grades. This week, we had the absolute pleasure of speaking to a fiercely talented young drummer called Henry Chauhan.

Can you sum up your musical journey so far?

I started playing drums at the age of 5 and got to grade 8 through Rockschool by the time I was 10. I thought a good next step would be to start a YouTube channel to start showcasing my playing and see where it goes…

Eventually I acquired an audience and got multiple opportunities like being sponsored by Pear, Sabian Remo and Wincent Sticks, collaborating with other musicians around the world, and some other cool things I’ll be announcing later this year!

Wow, it’s really incredible to see how far you’ve come since starting your YouTube channel, and you’ve got an audience of over 77 thousand! How does that feel?!

It’s given me a platform to share my passion for drumming, to play my favourite music and has given me the opportunity to collaborate with people from all over the world – making me more determined to reach my goals.

The future is something we can’t wait to hear about, but first, we’d love to ask you about where it all began. When did you start using Rockschool? And why do you think it has worked for you?

I’ve been using Rockschool since I started playing drums. I’ve always liked the variety of music genres which has led me to my passion for rock music!

Do you have a favourite performance piece?

My favourite piece was “Meet Darth Ear” from the grade 8 book. It helped me improve my footwork accuracy!

And how has your teacher influenced you along your journey? How would you describe their teaching style?

My drum teacher Tim Tandler is amazing. He has influenced me with his unique drumming style and his methods of teaching suits my style of learning.

That’s hugely important and it’s brilliant to have found a teacher that you are so compatible with. Were there any musicians who inspired you to start playing in the first place?

When I first started playing drums, the drummer John Bonham had a great influence on me because of his advanced kickdrum work.

We love John Bonham too! And so what does the future hold for Henry Chauhan?

My musical goal is to be a drummer in a band and to carry on improving my playing, because drumming is what I love to do!

Henry, we cannot wait to see where the next 10 years take you! We will be cheerleading you all the way.

You can find Henry’s incredible drum videos on his YouTube channel here, and do be sure to check out his other social media including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Keep your eyes peeled, folks, because we’re certain this will not be the last you see of Henry Chauhan!

Why You Should Study Music Grades

May 14th, 2021 by

Graded exams are a pathway that many students choose to follow when it comes to their music education. If you’re considering taking your graded exams, you may be wondering what the benefits are, or indeed why this is important for you as a new learner.

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

One of the main highlights of sitting your graded exams is the fact that they are a recognised qualification. The RSL grades are regulated by Ofqual (England), Qualification Wales, CCEA (Northern Ireland) and SQA Accreditation (Scotland). On top of this, from Grade 6 onward, RSL Performance Arts Awards and Graded Exams also carry UCAS points.

As well as being recognised in the UK, the RSL grades are also recognized qualifications in the EU and further afield.

Rockschool VIdeo Exams

From a learning point of view, the grades offer you an end-to-end solution to your learning. If you are a totally new player, the early levels can show you the ropes and get you started on your journey. For anyone joining the system later on into their journey, the higher grades can fill out any gaps in your knowledge and propel you to that next level as a player.

The RSL graded exams are full of all the relevant technical, musical and theory-based practise that you need to become the best musician you can be.

You can sit your exam at one of the many exam centres all around the country and there is an incredibly relaxed atmosphere with the team of regional examiners.

Your tutor can go over the full process of the graded book with you and help you understand and fine tune every aspect in preparing for your exam. There are 8 grades for most instruments which cover everything from beginner content up to advanced techniques and theory.

Rockschool graded music exams

Whatever your level, you will find something in the graded exams that will benefit you. It gives you a pathway to learning and removes the difficulty many people face trying to learn of various websites, videos and blogs. This curriculum has been put together to give you the best path to follow in your music education.

If you want to figure out where to begin your graded exam journey, check with your tutor and ask them to help you pick a starting point. You can either start from the beginning, or you can join the system at any point of your choosing.

Get your students exam ready and download your free Practise with Purpose Diary now!

Practise with Purpose Diary: Video Exams Edition

About the Author:

This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of by Leigh Fuge, an experienced guitarist, tutor and journalist from Wales. Leigh is part of a community of professional guitar teachers offering guitar lessons to students around the world. Read more of Leigh’s pieces relating to Rockschool here…

Classical in Conversation | John Williams

May 13th, 2021 by

In this week’s Classical in Conversation blog, we’re highlighting one of the most accomplished composers of this century, and one who will undoubtedly go down in history. You don’t need to be a film buff to have heard the astonishing works of Mr John Williams.

And with a career spanning nearly seven decades, the work of John Williams unites generations of fans, friends and families.

A Cinematic Sensation

Inspired by composers that came before him like Holst, Tchaikovsky and Wagner, Williams’ signature style is neoromanticism, which uses the concept of the leitmotif, a short recurring musical phrase associated with a particular person, place or idea (that’s right, we’re into the theory already guys!).

The leitmotif is one of Williams’ biggest strengths and a technique that appears again and again throughout his catalogue of works. We’ll talk more about this later…

John Williams came into the public eye in the early 1970s, and from 1974 began his partnership with the iconic director, Steven Spielberg, a partnership that would span many years. In fact, there are only 5 films of Spielberg’s that Williams didn’t write for!

The film Jaws was one of their first, and who could ever forget that two note ostinato that we’d hear whenever the shark was approaching. This ostinato is so legendary that it has become synonymous with impending danger throughout society – who hasn’t sang that little theme at some point in their life?! We certainly have! Those two notes (and the MANY more that make up the film score of Jaws) won Williams his first Academy Award for an original composition. It would be the first of many…

In fact, fast-forward some decades and Williams boasts a collection of awards including 25 Grammy’s, 7 British Academy Film Awards, 4 Golden Globes and the AFI Life Achievement Award. He is also the second most nominated individual after Walt Disney.

More Incredible Partnerships

His great working partnership with Spielberg led to another prolific director, George Lucas, who asked Williams if he would compose the score to his 1977 Star Wars film. Williams would go on to write some of his best and most highly acclaimed music for this franchise. Going back to the leitmotif, the Star Wars films are littered with them! Think the “Imperial March” which we’d hear any time Darth Vader or his Galactic Empire were approaching, the “Force Theme”, and “Yoda’s Theme” too. Williams’ talent in creating these themes that we associate so strongly with a particular character or mood or place is really something that makes his compositions so special. In 2005, the American Film Institute named the 1977 Star Wars score as the greatest film score of all time.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Star Wars franchise where John Williams would excel and produce incredible work. We all know the music of Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Home Alone, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and Schindler’s List, films which all feature some of the best of Williams’ work.

At RSL, we felt the Classical Piano syllabus needed some of John Williams magic amongst the songlist, which is why we’ve included the “Theme from Schindler’s List” in the Grade 7 books. This hauntingly beautiful piece of music won an Oscar, a BAFTA and Williams himself won his fifth Grammy Award. He was praised for the authentic sound of the music which incorporated the rhythmic and harmonic idioms of Eastern European Jewish Music so well.

Before attempting this one yourself, we’d recommend getting yourself familiar with the original score for violin and orchestra. This will really help you get to the real emotional core of the piece which should feel intense, lyrical and expressive.

We can’t wait to see what John Williams does next. Rumour has it that he’s working on writing the score for the fifth Indiana Jones film due to be released in 2022, so we’ll see you at the first screening, right?!

If you enjoyed learning some more about the life and legacy of this 21st century composer, then we have plenty of his contemporaries featured on the Classical in Conversation blog. You can learn more about Ludovico Einaudi, Alexis Ffrench and Nikki Iles to name but a few.

Teaching Rockschool – Drums Debut | Guest Blog

May 12th, 2021 by

As Mental Health Awareness week continues, we’re exploring how wellbeing affects 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.

SIGN UP FOR FREE! RSL’s Teacher Registry advertises your services to music students in your area

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.

Artists in Focus | Van Halen

May 11th, 2021 by

It’s time to shine the spotlight on one of rock’s greatest children on this week’s Artists in Focus blog. It’s one of the most successful rock bands of all time: Van Halen.

Whilst the Van Halen brothers, Eddie and Alex, were born in Amsterdam in the 1950s, Van Halen the band wasn’t born until a little later on. It was after a journey to sunny California when the brothers first picked up some instruments. They both started out on classical piano, before Eddie picked up the drums and Alex the guitar. The big Van Halen fans amongst us may well be thinking, “But Eddie is the guitarist and Alex is the drummer!”, which is true of course, but it didn’t start out that way. They eventually swapped instruments and the rest is history.

From Local to Global

After a few different band names (one of which was Genesis before they realised that Genesis were already a successful rock band – oops!), Van Halen was officially born in 1974. Their popularity soared entirely by their own self-promotion – think playing loads of local gigs and handing out flyers to high school kids! By cementing themselves as a key part of the LA music scene, Van Halen were able to garner a really loyal following.

To us, this really highlights the importance of supporting your local music venues and bands. Even in a digital world, music really begins in your town’s pubs, bars and nightclubs, and on local radio too! In 2021, it’s very easy to feel like we must be global stars from the beginning, but by getting out there in your area, you could be laying down the foundations for a solid fanbase that may help you to sell out arenas in the years to come. A fantastic reminder – thanks Van Halen!

Local success led to a 29-track demo tape, and then a showcase in front of music industry giants Warner Bros. The gig was severely lacking in guests, but the executives didn’t seem to care about that, as they’d written their letter of intent on a napkin before they even went home for the night!

In the years that followed, Van Halen would see international success with multiple multi-platinum albums, solidifying their place as one of the best-selling groups of all time and restoring rock back to the front of the music scene! What an achievement.

Drumming Dynamite!

But since it’s drums week here at RSL, we’re interested in taking a closer look at Alex Van Halen, the group’s drummer! He has become renowned for his enormous drum kits, featuring some pretty crazy items including an on-fire orchestral gong – yes, you read that right. He’s also known for his super complex live solos that wouldn’t be out of place in a prog band!

In the Rockschool Grade 3 Drums syllabus, you can channel your inner Alex Van Halen with a tune from their hugely successful debut album, “You Really Got Me”. A rock classic, this tune has an exciting tempo and must be played with absolute authority and conviction! You can really imagine yourself as part of the original band with this one. However, despite the excitement, you’ve really got to make sure that accuracy is a priority, as we don’t want any unwanted flams appearing.

It’s definitely worth immersing yourself in some Alex Van Halen drum recordings to really nail the style here. There are plenty of live recordings out there to get your teeth into!

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, why not check out some of our other heroes featured on the Drums syllabus like Billy Cobham, Queen and Aretha Franklin!

Classical in Conversation | Robert Schumann

May 6th, 2021 by

We’ve stepped into the world of the Schumanns once before, when we took a closer look into the life and career of virtuoso Clara. This week, it’s time to finish the picture and delve a little deeper into the other half of the pairing – Robert Schumann, here we come!

With RSL Classical Piano, you can experience this Romantic era heavyweight in his full glory at two different stages of your piano journey. The first comes in the beginner stages, Grade 1, where you’ll be introduced to the “Soldiers March”, and the second when you become an intermediate player in Grade 5, with “Traumerei No.7”. But more on that later… Let’s first find out some more about the man behind the melodies!

Literary and Musical Talents Combined

It was little Robert Schumann’s intention to become one of the finest concert pianists in all of Europe, but a hand injury stopped this dream in its tracks. Thankfully, Schumann instead focused his energies on composition.

As well as composition, Schumann was incredibly well versed in the written word, and spent much of his time pursuing literary dreams of his too. This combination of notes and words quickly led to what became his signature style – character. Much like a book, Schumann’s compositions are littered with characters, all with various personalities and traits that are instantly recognisable by the motifs and melodies that he assigns to them. He was frequently noted for his “rare taste and talent for portraying feelings and characteristic traits in his melody”, even from the young age of 7! Perhaps he managed to hold on to his childhood imagination even through his adult life.

In fact, it was said that Clara Schumann once said to Robert Schumann, “sometimes you appear to me as a child”, which turned out to be the inspiration for his widely loved collection, Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood). It is from this collection that we’ve taken our Grade 5 piece, “Traumerei, No.7”, which translates to “Dreaming”. Schumann’s talent for character really comes across in this piece, although this does require some work from the performer! The voicings here are a little complex, so you’ll need to take some time to balance the individual voices whilst still maintaining the legato feel. Also, if expression is your bag then you can really go to town with this one (as Schumann would undoubtedly have wanted you to!). We’re aiming for a sense of poignant sensitivity, so take a few deep breaths and start this one with a purposeful touch.

Characters in Action

But, as we mentioned earlier, there is also some Schumann for the beginners amongst us. In the RSL Classical Piano Grade 1 you’ll find “Soldier’s March”, which provides a bit of contrast to the atmosphere of “Traumerei No.7”. This piece is unusual in that the hands are rhythmically in sync throughout the entire piece – sounds great, right?! Well yes, it does certainly make the challenge of hands-together playing a bit easier, but this does mean that your note placement needs to be absolutely bang on. If it’s not, we’ll have some sloppy sounding chords in the exam room which is definitely not in keeping with the crisp and precise vibe that Schumann was going for!

One thing you can really lean into in “Solider’s March” is the contrast. We’ve got phrases that must be absolutely legato, but countering this with some more staccato phrases will inject some of that beloved character. Finally, the tempo could be the making or the breaking of this piece. It goes along at quite a pace, but the strict rhythm means that any unwanted fluctuations in the pulse will be quite obvious to the ear of the listener! It may be a Grade 1 piece, but there are plenty of challenges to look out for here!

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting the other half of the Schumann story today! Do be sure to check out some of Robert’s contemporaries when you’ve got some time. Start with his wife Clara Schumann of course, then move on to Mr Frédéric Chopin, of whom Schumann was a big fan (he actually said, “Hats off, gentleman! A genius!” about him). Finally, why not finish off with a trip to Hungary with Béla Bartok!

Artists in Focus | Django Reinhardt

May 4th, 2021 by

At RSL Awards we adore the acoustic guitar, and we couldn’t think of anyone better to feature on Artists in Focus other than acoustic royalty, Mr Django Reinhardt.

Gypsy-jazz is a genre so many of us love, and we really do have this man to thank for it. In fact, some would go as far to say that every major pop music guitarist in the world will have, in some way, been influenced by Reinhardt’s style.

Quintette du Hot Club

It was in the Romani encampments of Paris that Jean Reinhardt (Django is a nickname!) would first pick up the violin, then the banjo, and then his beloved guitar. By 15 he was already making a living from busking in café’s, and that was before he even began dipping his toes into jazz.

And to think we almost lost this legend is unthinkable! Shortly after his marriage at the age of 17, Reinhardt almost died in a caravan fire. Thankfully, him and his wife survived, but not without serious burns to their bodies, including two of his most important fingers for guitar playing. Unfortunately, Django never regained full mobility back in to those fingers, which meant he had to adapt his playing and use the injured fingers for chord work only.

In the years of 1934 to 1939, Reinhardt and friend Stéphane Grappelli formed their famous Quintette du Hot Club de France and took the world of jazz by storm. They took European jazz and flipped in on its head. The group was composed of only string instruments, and to this day, their sound is what we all strive for when we think of the Hot Club sound.

World War II

And then World War II began, shaking Europe like never before. Quintette du Hot Club de France were touring the UK, and so Reinhardt rushed back to France immediately, leaving Grappelli in the UK. He tried his hardest to keep playing his music throughout the war, but being Romani AND a jazz musician, this was made incredibly difficult for him. During this war, Romani people were forced to wear a brown gypsy ID triangle on their chest, just like the pink triangle for anyone in the LGBT+ community, and the star of David for Jewish people. Jazz was also viewed as a particularly “un-German” counterculture, so you can imagine that for Django, his entire world was at threat.

Living in France, Reinhardt was able to continue his work, as there was far less policy surrounding jazz, but of course this was not without danger. When France became occupied by the Germans, Reinhardt tried to escape, only to be caught by a German solider. As luck would have it, this particular solider was a fan of jazz himself and so – not forgetting that Reinhardt was one of the most famous jazz musicians in Europe at the time – he let Django go free, and thus, he survived the war.

Django went on to continue his successes in America, playing with some of the best of the best like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. He was received so well – six curtain calls in ONE NIGHT will speak volumes for his popularity!

We are hugely excited that we were able to include a Django Reinhardt tune in our Acoustic syllabus, placing him into Grade 8. We’ve chosen “Minor Swing”, a song that became a Jazz Standard, and rightly so, for it is SUPER impressive! The song has no obvious melody, and is instead a mostly continuous improvisation over a sequence of chord changes. There’s plenty to get your head around with this one.

So, there it is! The acoustic guitar legend Django Reinhardt it on the Artists in Focus blog, alongside some of our other guitar heroes like Taylor Swift, Kaki King and Bob Marley too.

Classical in Conversation | Gustav Holst

April 29th, 2021 by

So far, the Classical in Conversation blog has taken us on a journey through classical music, from the beginning of Bach to the end of Einaudi, and we love each and every one of the composers and works that we’ve featured so far. Over the course of this series it’s becoming clear that there are some classical works that are ALWAYS worth talking about. Today is one of those days. Yes, hello Mr Holst…

He’s the English composer that inspired some of the greatest film composers of the modern day – think Hans Zimmer and John Williams. His most iconic work, The Planets, has stood the test of time and will undoubtedly be a part of orchestral repertoire for generations to come.

Early Days

But first, let’s talk about the man behind the music. Gustav Holst, born and raised in Cheltenham (but of German, Latvian and Swedish descent), was from a pretty musical family that has generations of professional musicians to shout about, so it was only natural that little Gustav might follow the same path. He had aspired to become a pianist, though was prevented by some health problems in his right arm which is what made him switch to a focus in composition.

Interestingly, when Holst first applied for a scholarship position at the Royal College of Music he was pipped to the post by Samuel Coleridge Taylor, who you’ll also find on the RSL Classical Piano syllabus! Holst did gain a place as a non-scholarship student, though it meant some significant financial strain for his family who had to borrow £100 to cover the fees (and remember that we’re talking about the 1890’s here)!

Whilst at the school he made friends with Ralph Vaughan Williams, who would also go on to make a huge name for himself in composition. They became perfect companions and would critique each other’s work to help themselves become the best composers they could be – don’t we all need a friendship like this?!

Leaving the Royal College of Music for the real world made Gustav Holst realise that it would be quite difficult to make money from his compositions alone, so he took many a teaching position (in which he was a real pioneer for making music education more accessible to women, woop!), and various gigs playing the trombone – a true working freelancer. His career only afforded him life’s necessities, but that didn’t stop him from keeping going.

The Planets

Now, you’re undoubtedly sat there thinking, “can we please talk about The Planets?!”, and the answer is, of course, yes we can. This is the seven-part suite that ultimately made Holst a household name for the rest of his life (and beyond!). It has become by far his most popular work, even though Holst himself was not overly joyous about it! If you didn’t already know – and hadn’t already guessed – each movement is named after a different planet, and the mood of each piece expresses the astrological character of that planet, hence “Mars, the Bringer of War”, “Venus, the Bringer of Peace”, and so on.

But potentially our favourite of the seven movements is “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity”. It is not an over-exaggeration to say that this piece contains some of the most memorable melodies in orchestral music to date, and we definitely wanted a slice of the pie in the RSL Classical Piano syllabus, so you’ll find a section of this beautiful work in Grade 1.

Our piano arrangement isn’t quite as long as Holst’s original composition, but we certainly don’t want to lose the majestic, stately character of this unbelievable melody. We’d strongly recommend listening to the orchestral work to get a real flavour of how much weight this piece has, how much substance, and how the slow and continuous build up is what makes it so emotional. So, pay attention to that fingering and see how legato you can make it.

We honestly can’t wait to see this being played in the exam room.

Teaching Face-to-Face Post Lockdown: Guest Blog

April 29th, 2021 by

For the last 12 months, the music tuition industry has been facing challenges unlike anything it’s ever faced before. With face-to-face lessons cancelled and teachers turning to Skype to keep things moving, many of us have been forced to adapt and think outside of the box to ensure our students keep learning and our jobs are secured.

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

Finally, in Spring 2021, the announcement we’ve all been waiting for. The country is now making steps towards easing, and eventually ending, lockdown restrictions in the UK.

But what does this mean for the teaching industry? Can we simply go back to normal?

In short, the answer is no. For the immediate future, we still have to consider some protective measures, but the good news is, we can start making steps towards normality again.

With the news of easing lockdowns also comes the news that social distancing and face coverings will possibly remain beyond the end of lockdown. This is where we as teachers need to start our planning when it comes to face-to-face sessions. We must ask ourselves a few simple questions:

Is it safe to have students to your studio?

This depends on the layout of your studio. While the government’s guidelines state that certain business can reopen while following the rules set out, for many teachers working from home, the rules cannot be followed because it is still against guidance to have people in your home. For private teachers it’s a grey area, because many of our businesses revolve around having people attend.

For the time being, if you teach from home, you will need to watch the guidance. Check with your local authority to ensure you’re keeping up to date with measures and see if there is anything you can do to ensure you are Covid compliant.


Can you teach while maintaining social distancing?

Many of us teach from home, so the issue of social distancing is a big one here. If you are lucky enough to have a teaching space which allows for 2m distance between you and the student, then this will ease the process for you. Remember, if you’re having students attend your studio, keep a window open for proper ventilation and ensure you leave enough time between sessions for clean downs and disinfecting any surfaces that could potentially be contaminated.

Rockschool graded music exams

Should you wear a face covering while teaching?

Face coverings while teaching aren’t ideal, but may be required. A face shield may be the easier option over a facemask as you can see the face of the student fully as well as be seen yourself.

Another option is to look into a screen that you can put up between you and students. Check with your local authority to ensure this is acceptable.

What other options do I have?

If you find that the current advice and your own setup restricts your ability to resume face to face lessons in your own home, you can try a few temporary approaches:

•Start/Continue Offering Online Lessons – Platforms like Skype and Zoom allow you to reach students without worrying about distance. If you haven’t yet looked at this as an option, now is a good time to start. Many students will be keen to return to lessons but if you are unable to offer face-to-face lessons this might be a way to start offering lessons regardless.

•Find Suitable Premises Temporarily – Of course, this is easier said than done. You could try to reach out to all the local music schools and studios in your area, explain your situation and ask them if they have any space you could rent for the purpose of teaching. Most music schools will probably already have suitable sized rooms, and many will have already brought in protective measures.

Get your students exam ready and download your free Practise with Purpose Diary now!

Practise with Purpose Diary: Video Exams Edition

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…