Category: Music Teacher

Quick Tips: How to Practise and Improve your Sight Reading | Guest Blog

August 31st, 2021 by

The term “sight reading” is enough to send chills down any musician’s back. The ability to just look at a sheet of paper and play the piece is a skill that many of us assume is reserved for the absolute elite of musicians.

The truth is, sight reading doesn’t have to be such a mountain to climb. Anyone can learn to sight read by starting simple and working up.

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


Rockschool VIdeo Exams


Let’s consider some key points that would help you learn sight reading:

1. Familiarise With Rhythmic Awareness

Are you familiar with how to read your note lengths on both staves and rhythm charts? Having the ability to spot your note lengths will make a huge difference when sight reading. Being able to read note length without thinking means you can look at the note and focus on the pitch and not the length.

Whole Note

Half Note

Quarter Note

Eighth Note

Sixteenth Note

2. Improve Key Signature, Chord and Scale Knowledge

Often, when it comes to sight reading you may be given a quick opportunity to scan the page first. This is a good time to take in the key signature of the song. This will immediately give you an insight into what scales and chords you should expect to see in the piece.

I would recommend learning your Major and Minor scales as chords, understanding intervals and relative major/minor keys. If you look at a piece and you can identify the key right away, that will give you all the information you need providing you know what scales and chords fit into that key.

Check out this other resource I wrote for Rockschool called Key Signatures: A Beginners Guide. This has all the information you need to get started with understanding key signatures.



GET YOUR ROCKSCHOOL MUSIC THEORY SAMPLE PAPERS


3. Start Small and Grow

Don’t expect to be able to sight read at the highest level after just a week of learning the basics. Sight reading is a skill that takes time, practise and patience to develop to a high standard. A great way to start sight reading is to take a melody that you are familiar with and find the sheet music for it. Study the key signature of the piece and try to follow it along with the sheet music. You can use your scale knowledge to help guide you and your familiarity with how the piece should sound will help you piece together the notes.

By doing this, you are associating the notes on the stage with the pitches on your instrument. Don’t go for a piece that’s too complex right away, take it easy with a piece that you know well.

4. Study Before Starting

Before you dive into a sight-reading exercise, spend that little bit of extra time looking at it and making notes (either in your mind or by writing them on the charts) about what you’re looking at. Look for any key areas where you might run into difficulty or something that might not look like it belongs in that key family.

You should also pay attention to any dynamic changes or repeated sections. I often do a lot of live gigs that involve showing up and playing off chord charts with no prior rehearsals. I rely on my understanding of these charts to get me through the gig. In these situations, the first thing I always do is study the arrangements and look for any key points where I need to repeat something or change the overall feel or dynamic.



5. Learn to Think Ahead of Yourself

When you start to progress with sight reading, you’ll realise that you need to think ahead of your current playing position. Many accomplished sight readers will learn to take in an entire bar in one go, or even a few beats at a time. This means that you can be playing something while your brain locks into the part coming next.

This might sound quite intense, and at first, it will be. It’s essentially splitting the brain into two halves, one to play and one to read.

Like all sight reading, start slowly with this. This is something else that using a familiar melody or piece could benefit from as you will be familiar enough to play a section while allowing your mind to move ahead to study the part that is coming up next.

Are You Getting Better?

Let’s imagine you’ve now been trying to learn sight reading for a few weeks, how do we know if you’re getting better. Firstly, you will feel more comfortable with the idea. You’ll feel more at ease when you look at a piece of music and you’ll feel more confident in your ability to just dig in. You’ll also feel that you’re spending less time “working it out” and more time just playing it.

A good measure of this is to once again call up the notation for a piece of music you are familiar with but make sure it’s a piece you can’t already play from memory. Try to sight read it, if it sounds as you expect then that’s a positive indicator that your sight reading is moving in the right direction.

Don’t give up! It’s a long road but the results are worth it. You’ll get into the swing of it very quickly but don’t forget to keep working at it and keep pushing yourself.


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…

Am I Ready to Take My Rockschool Exam?

August 25th, 2021 by

With autumn fast approaching, we’re looking ahead to the next session of Rockschool exams in the UK and Ireland.

We have a wide range of assessment options available to accommodate all learners, so whether you’re keen to do a face-to-face exam, a recorded digital exam, or live stream digital exam, we have you covered!

For some, it’s hard to know when you or your students are truly ready to apply. This is why we’ve asked guest blogger, guitarist and educator, Leigh Fuge, to explore ‘Am I Ready to Take My Rockschool Exam?’

MusicTeacher.com’s Leigh Fuge explores…

Am I, or my students, ready to take my Rockschool exam? The golden question! What do we consider being ready for an exam? The exam will follow the same structure and contents that would have been covered in lessons using the Rockschool books. So, with that in mind, let’s break it down into a few simple areas:

Technical Knowledge

  • If you get asked to play a particular chord or scale, or variations of this, can you/your student do so without hesitation?
  • Is the chord played cleanly without any wrong notes and its pitching clean and concise?
  • Is the scale played correctly with all notes at an even tempo?

Performance

  • Are you using a performance piece from the book or do you have a pre-prepared one?
  • Can you perform this from memory or comfortably whilst reading from the book/sheet?
  • Can you deliver a confident performance that sounds as close to the original as possible?

Theory/Listening

  • Can you answer a range of listening based questions on time signatures, rhythm and melody without hesitation?
  • Can you replicate different rhythms and melodies from hearing them?

If you can answer yes to all or most of these questions, then chances are you, or your student, are ready to take the Rockschool exam.

For teachers, I would always recommend spending a few lessons running over the content in an exam format as a mock test with students to help them get used to only having one attempt at playing pieces or answering questions.

When preparing for exams, it’s important to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Here is a useful blog I wrote on Recovering from Mistakes During Exams. This will help you and your students prepare for mistakes. Remember, making mistakes does not ruin the exam. Keep calm and focused and you’ll nail it!

ENTER NOW!


About the Author:

This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MusicTeacher.com 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…

RSL Awards Launches Teach Today Programme at ICMP!

August 11th, 2021 by

RSL Awards Launches Teach Today Programme at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance!

RSL Awards are delighted to partner with The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance’s Careers & Industry Hub to extend its Teach Today programme, helping ICMP students and alumni develop teaching as a valuable part of their portfolio careers.

Located in London, the heart of the global music industry, ICMP has been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. The school offers a specialist range of industry-aligned courses focused on preparing musicians, producers, performers, creative artists and entrepreneurs for a successful and rewarding career in the music industry.

The Careers & Industry Hub team is also on-hand to support students and alumni throughout their studies and after their graduation as they work towards their goals. Most ICMP graduates build portfolio careers across different projects; many will look to teaching as a key revenue stream that offers flexibility and develops key transferable skills as well as enabling them to share their passion with others.

“It’s imperative that we support talented musicians with world class education materials, which is why we are delighted to extend RSL Awards’ Teach Today programme with The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance. Music teaching is such an important part of a musician’s portfolio career, which is why we’re so excited to see how ICMP graduates will embrace our teaching materials on their journey to a successful music career.” Suzanne Harlow, CEO RSL Awards.

Teach Today, Shape Tomorrow

As part of RSL Awards’ Teach Today programme, you will have access to:

  • Digital copies of available RSL Awards grade books*
  • An ICMP-branded profile on the international RSL Teacher Registry
  • Guidance on teaching and schemes of work*
  • Access to RSL Awards’ Learning Platform App
  • Discounts to professional development qualifications
  • Join a network of almost 3000 international teachers

*Currently available across Rockschool Electric Guitar, Ukulele, Drums, Piano, Vocals, Music Production.

RSL Awards X ICMP Teach Today

How To Get Started

To create your teaching profile and access your free resources follow these steps:

  • Click here to create your RSL account and start building your profile.
  • Once started, simply select ‘Teacher’ from the first dropdown box and make sure you select ICMP in the ‘Affiliate Institution’ dropdown option.

Once you have submitted your profile for moderation, ICMP will approve your contact details before moderation and it will go live on the RSL Awards site.

About RSL Awards Graded Music Exams

RSL Awards are one of the leading awarding bodies for qualifications in music and the creative industries, with a dedicated community of music teachers in over 45 countries. They provide high-quality qualifications and examination experiences for teachers and students alike, whilst also giving teachers across the globe the opportunity to achieve formal recognition for their teaching standards.

Teachers using RSL Awards products offer the most professional services to their students with graded exam materials that have a proven track record of keeping learners engaged with their instruments. RSL Awards have developed graded music syllabuses in Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals, Piano, Classical Piano, Keyboards, Ukulele, Popular Music Theory and the world’s first Music Production syllabus. Their Graded Music qualifications are recognised and regulated at the highest level by Ofqual, SFA, CCEA, Qualifications Wales and the Department for Education, with all successful level 3 (Grades 6–8) exams being awarded UCAS points to bolster university applications.

If you are interested in accessing free, high quality teaching resources, learn more about RSL Awards’ Teach Today programme here...

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.


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.

Anti-Bullying | Advice for Parents

June 21st, 2021 by

Whether you’re a parent of a bully or a child who’s being bullied, it’s never a comfortable position to be in.

We’re running a series of blogs focusing on bullying and how it can affect all parties involved: this week we’re focusing on how bullying can affect parents, and how you can help your children navigate the often tense and unpleasant world of bullying, choosing kindness along the way.

What is bullying?

Bullying can take many different forms and with the continued digitisation of our society, there may be forms of bullying that are new or which you do not know about.

Prejudice can take many forms, and whether it is a one-off instance or a repeated series of events, bullying must be recognised and eradicated.

Bullying may be homophobic (based on sexual orientation), sexist (undermining you for being of the opposite sex), and racist (based on your skin colour and background).

What form can it take?

Bullying traditionally takes the form of physical abuse, name-calling, and consistent taunting. However, with so many children having access to a computer or smartphone nowadays, bullying often continues outside the classroom, online.

How should I react if I think my child is being bullied?

There’s a 50:50 chance that your child is involved in bullying at school, whether that’s as a bully, a witness, or someone who is being bullied. If your child is being bullied, reassure them that it is not their fault. Bullying can happen for all sorts of reasons, and as a parent you should help combat any insecurities they may feel about coming forward.

Bullies often want to provoke a certain reaction in the children they target. Practising scenarios with your child and encouraging them to not give the bully the reaction they want can be beneficial.

All schools are legally required to have an anti-bullying policy in place. You should familiarise yourself with this as it should be freely accessible and up to date, but charging into the school and demanding to see the headteacher or the bully’s parents is rarely a helpful reaction as it can cause additional stress and anxiety for your child, potentially making the bullying even worse.

However, you should talk to your school if the bullying continues. Schools will have a range of options to choose from in how they deal with the bully. If you aren’t satisfied by the school’s response, the Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) offers step-by-step advice on how to deal with the school, from how to write a letter to your options if you need to chance tact. Their advice line is 0300 0115 142. Bullying UK have some great templates that you can use to get in touch with them.

What if my child is the bully?

It can be a very disappointing experience to find out that your child is a bully. You are bound to look introspectively to consider how your relationship with your child is involved, but it’s important to distance yourself and realise that their bullying may be a sign of deeper emotional distress.

Your child may be bullying to fit in, to gain attention from their peers or teachers, or maybe they just made a mistake.

Children often don’t realise the gravity of their actions. They may not even realise they are bullying, or that the other person is being affected in such a negative way. It’s important that, as their parent, you communicate with them and ask them questions so you can understand their motivations and help them to empathise with the child they are bullying.

Encourage your child to look inwards and think about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Hopefully with your help, they will be able to point to a reason why they feel the need to bully other children, and get to a place where they can stop bullying, apologise, and move to a happier frame of mind.

If you’d like to learn more about how to deal with bullying if it becomes an issue for your children, then head to the websites below to explore further free resources that have helped to inform our blog and understanding of bullying.

NSPCC:

https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/schools/anti-bullying-resources

Young Minds:

https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/feelings-and-symptoms/bullying/

Bullying UK:

https://www.bullying.co.uk/anti-bullying-week/anti-bullying-week-resources/

Anti-Bullying Alliance:

https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/schools-and-teachers/top-tips-teachers-and-school-staff/abas-top-tips-teachers

Our next blog will focus on how children can deal with bullies at school.

Rockschool 101: USA Webinars 2021

May 25th, 2021 by

Rockschool 101: The basics

Thursday 27th May 2021 – 10:00 (PST)

The US team will be introducing you to the Rockschool Leveled System in a series of free webinars.

  • What is Rockschool?
  • Overview of Rockschool Programs
  • The importance of our Leveled System for your students
  • How our system can help you with student retention
  • Understand the exam process
  • How your students will benefit from Rockschool’s programs
  • Free giveaway at the end of the webinar

Webinars Sign-up

     
    Which webinar(s) would you like to attend?

     


    What do you get?

    We understand how challenging it can be to teach music and keep your students motivated during these times. Our books, interactive tools and programs won’t let you down. This is what you can get:

    • Free access to an all-in-one learning platform that will grow your teaching practice
    • Improved student progression and retention
    • Enhance your learners’ chances of college admission
    • Suitable for online or face to face instruction

    Rockschool Music Production: USA Webinars 2021

    April 11th, 2021 by

    Rockschool Music Production – USA Webinars

    Thursday 29th April 2021 – 10:00 (PST)

    The US team will be introducing you to the Rockschool Leveled System in a series of free webinars.

    • Overview of the Rockschool Music Production syllabus
    • Designed to develop the technical and musical skills required for students working in the studio and live environment
    • Practical and theoretical understanding of music and production
    • Understand the assessment criteria and exams process
    • Free giveaway at the end of the webinar

    Webinars Sign-up

       
      Which webinar(s) would you like to attend?

       


      What do you get?

      We understand how challenging it can be to teach music and keep your students motivated during these times. Our books, interactive tools and programs won’t let you down. This is what you can get:

      • Free access to an all-in-one learning platform that will grow your teaching practice
      • Improved student progression and retention
      • Enhance your learners’ chances of college admission
      • Suitable for online or face to face instruction

      How to Teach Music Online | What are the benefits and where are the pitfalls?

      February 9th, 2021 by

      How to Teach Music Online. What are the benefits and where are the pitfalls?

      Due to the effects of the Coronavirus around the world, we’re all facing extended periods where meeting face to face is off the table. However, this doesn’t have to mean the end for your teaching, but it does mean we all have to think differently about how we teach, or more importantly how students learn.

      Originally posted in March 2020, updated February 2021.

      This blog seeks to set out a few key strategies for online teaching and learning, referencing some good practice and highlighting some of the pitfalls. We interviewed Rockschool Examiner Georg Voros, DIME Online Head of Education Mike Sturgis, and Rockschool Drum Syllabus contributor Pete Riley for their views in using online platforms.

      Using the right technology

      Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp and the like all provide great services for video calls, however, we are at the mercy of our connection speeds and those of our students.

      Rockshool Drum Syllabus contributor Pete Riley has invested in a fully mic’d teaching studio for his online lessons, but even with great technology in his studio he still finds that the student’s environment can create challenges as they may be working with internal microphones built into laptops and phones.

      Video conferencing is useful, but not the only technology to rely on. Virtual Learning Environments (also called Learning Management Systems) are an excellent way to set interactive tasks that your students can respond to and most have video conferencing built in.

      Click here to find some of the best free tools…

      Mike Sturgis, Head of Education from DIME Online uses Canvas for his faculty who teach RSL Awards Vocational Qualifications online. DIME have built a bespoke environment for learners built around tasks that are submitted for assessment online – giving students an individual learning experience.

      It doesn’t have to be the same!

      For centuries teachers have utilised a mentor/apprentice style of 1-2-1 teaching in music lesson. The challenges regarding online learning mean that it is often not possible to hear the nuances of a performance over video conference, so referencing great recordings and curating well recorded video tutorials is going to really help. For example, RSL Fellow and drum legend Steve White’s YouTube channel has some amazing rudiments that you can set for your students to watch.

      Building your lessons around material that learners have already watch/listened to is often referred to as ‘flipped’ learning, making the engagement with students much more valuable. Imagine if you were teaching how to play a song, if the student already knows the song before you start it makes the whole process much easier.

      Our good friends and Rockschool public exam centre, Roar Music Academy, moved their teaching services online due to current circumstances. Click here to find their learnings so far…

      Time is flexible

      The traditional model of 1-2-1 teaching often requires strict lesson times. Online learning can be much more flexible. A 30-minute lesson in person might only contain 6 minutes of talking with the student and lots of demonstrating. In an online model you might stretch the lesson out with several bursts over a few days. Setting a task and asking the student to record themselves for you to review saves both students and teachers time.

      Mike Sturgis points out the main advantages to online study are the 24-7 access to the content and the complete flexibility to study your lessons when you want to.

      Find the right resources

      Part of all teaching is to help guide the learners, and the job of curation is even more implicit when thinking about online learning. We recently helped Music Gurus out with their seminar on Online delivery at the Music and Drama Education Expo. The number one comment from teachers was that it was hard to find resources they could trust.

      We spend a lot of our time at RSL creating material that is suitable for different levels of learners. If you haven’t already got the Rockschool or RSL Classical books, sign up for our Learning Platform app or Teach Today, Shape Tomorrow programme that includes books and teaching resources free to teachers.

      Replay - interactive sheet music tool

      The Replay interactive sheet music tool can be a great way for students to explore the Rockschool repertoire and allows them to loop, slow down, or even change key of the pieces.

      The student sets the pace

      In other areas of education there has been a long-established movement to place the pace of learning in the hands of the learners. A movement from traditional cognitive models into constructivist models can help learners engage in topics for longer and in more detail. Setting goals and benchmarks with individual learners will give positive reinforcement.

      For example, the overall goal for the learner might be to complete their Grade 2 Electric Guitar exam with Rockschool – but to get to that end goal the student will need smaller objectives such as learning part of a piece or technical exercise broken down into tasks. Every time a task is completed there is an opportunity for encouragement.

      Online communities

      Along with constructivism, social constructivism encourages the idea of learners supporting each other. Learners sharing their progress is a great way to create an environment where all your students support each other. This will help retain the students and support your teaching business. Social media groups are an excellent way to connect all your students together.

      Mike Sturgis sees many benefits to working in this way…

      “some of our tutorials are allocated for the entire group, so this functions like any conference call that you might have experienced in Zoom or Microsoft Teams. However, it’s the forums where students upload examples of their work where we see a lot of discussion between students and staff.”

      Finding Students

      Recruiting new students is always tricky, but using platforms like Rockschool’s Teacher Registry can build and online profile. Promoting this through social media is a good way of boosting a profile, and with online learning there is a whole world of students who might be looking for your services.

      What do you miss out on?

      Pete Riley highlights that the physicality of teaching instruments is challenged when we use online methods, as well as the ability to move around the students to really observe technique from different angles. Of course, extreme situations call for extreme measures and whilst we may never be able to recreate all the features of an in-person lesson, for the time being we may just have to adapt. Currently having a live ensemble jam together is a big challenge for the technology, but perhaps not for long.

      Safeguarding

      When delivering online lessons, remember that safeguarding and child protection remain paramount and you need to ensure that you have considered this carefully to ensure that you can provide a safe and secure online learning environment for both you and your students. The professional bodies at the MU, ISM and Music Mark have both created some very useful guidance, so we recommend that you check it out:

      DIME Online Head of Education, Mike Sturgis’ top 5 tips for online teaching

      • Tip 1: Ensure that the platform you’re using to deliver the course will meet the needs of the student learning experience.
      • Tip 2: Communication surrounding assessments must absolutely clear. This includes how the assessment will take place, what is required from the student, how they need to submit their work and the deadline for this.
      • Tip 3: Opportunities for developmental assessment at key points in the term.
      • Tip 4: Prompt, regular and incisive feedback for students on their work, including 1-2-1 contact time with a tutor at key points in the term.
      • Tip 5: Course content must be of a high standard, preferably with a combination of text, notation, graphics, video, images and audio as appropriate. Also, the presentation of the content needs to be done in a way that is easily navigable and considers diverse learning styles.

      Rockschool Examiner Georg Voros’ 5 Tips for teaching Online

      • Tip 1: Connectivity. Without good connectivity you’re dead in the water and this will never work. You may have fantastic connectivity your side, but if the person on the other side hasn’t then this won’t work. So aside from making sure you’re well set up your side, make sure your student has good connectivity before you get started.
      • Tip 2: Audio quality. Very challenging for drum lessons if all that’s being used is a laptop microphone or similar. The result is not always great. As the teacher make sure that YOUR sound is clear and audible. Maybe test this with a friend before starting to teach online. Give suggestions to your student on how to best improve sound quality their side in the most affordable manner.
      • Tip 3: Camera angle. If you’re a guitar teacher or similar, then this is easier as you don’t need a hugely wide shot. If you’re teaching drums or keyboard then you need to angle your camera or cameras to make sure that everything is visible.
      • Tip 4: Lesson content. Be selective in what you can teach. Not everything transfers well online. If part of your lesson is very interactive and works well in a room with a student in front of you, eg. teaching technique and helping to physically implement this somehow, you may want to rethink how you can get this across.
      • Tip 5: Lesson scheduling. It’s all very well wanting to teach someone in a different time zone, but you will need to take into account when they are able to have a lesson. Will 3 am in the morning suit you?

      Tell us about your teaching

      We’d love to hear more about your experiences teaching online. Head over to our social channels and send us a message! Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // YouTube

      Back to School: Tips & Tricks for Music Teachers

      September 7th, 2020 by

      Make going back to school this academic year a breeze!

      The way you teach at your school(s) may well have changed significantly over the past few months. However, a lot of the same issues will arise as you get back to work at school. Here’s our list of tip & tricks for music teachers getting back into the swing of things this September.

      Before we begin, it would be imprudent of us not to provide a small checklist of things you should definitely take care of before you commence teaching in any capacity:

      1. Get DBS Checked

      If you are going to be teaching in any capacity, then you will almost certainly require a criminal records check, known as a DBS. If you’re working in a school, then they will usually cover the cost of this. However, if you’re teaching privately, you can undertake this online by visiting their website and paying a small fee.

      2. Get Insured

      There are several different forms of insurance you’ll need as a teacher, as well as several factors that may influence your current insurance status. If you’re teaching from home, please ensure that you should check if using your home as a place of business effects your insurance. Similarly, if you are teaching peripatetically, or from a venue, you’ll almost certainly need Public Liability Insurance for any accidents that may happen outside of your home.

      3. Get Registered as Self-Employed

      Any money earned, whether paid in cash or not, is taxable. You should also be aware of the fact you may be able to claim back any expenses incurred whilst teaching. This could include a variety of things (books, equipment, travel), but should always be discussed with a tax advisor for clarity before making a claim.


      Like any form of education, both music students and teachers can profit from some useful back-to-school preparation…

      Checking your equipment, reviewing your learning environment, making sure you get enough rest, and refocusing your attitude can all work towards making sure you pick up right where you left off.

      Set Goals

      Before you start afresh this September, reflect on the last year and make sure you know exactly where you were the last time you saw each of your students. Use this as a jump off point upon their return to ask them to recall what they last learnt. This refocuses and motivates them, putting them in the right frame of mind before they play a single note.

      Encourage Responsibility

      Draw up a timetable for them to map out a practise schedule with clear objectives that you can both agree on. Structure is key! It’s important they get into a routine that enables them to see their own progress, which helps to boost confidence the more they improve. The more ownership they feel they have, the more invested they will be.

      Engage with Parents

      In order for everyone to feel involved in the process, pick a preferred way to include parents in your progress with their son or daughter. It’s tough for some parents – especially those that aren’t musical themselves – to feel that they can ask how their child is doing. If you put it in a language they can understand, the students own attitude will also vastly improve from their involvement. The skills learnt in music are transformational. Make sure they know it!

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      Wonderful Water

      A lack of ability to focus, increased fatigue and ‘brain fog’, sleep issues and headaches are all intrinsically linked to reduced intake of water. Now, it’s not your responsibility to instil this, per se; but having water on hand is not only a thoughtful act, but it can also provide you with a reason to give students a moment to settle themselves if you think they could profit from a small break.

      Respect Your Rest

      A good night’s sleep is vital to our physical health and emotional well-being. That’s why the benefits of good sleep should never be underestimated. We appreciate how much effort and concentration is required to execute effective lessons on a regular basis, so make sure that you’re getting enough sleep as it’ll only make it harder!

      Be Prepared

      Give yourself time in advance to feel fully prepared before each lesson begins. If you’re not ready to start straight away, how can you expect your student to be? You may want to bring something new into the learning environment, or start a brand-new topic that might take some thinking about. Mapping out your approach beforehand will ensure you’re happy with your content and delivery.

      Mobile Phones

      If possible, set a precedent for them to be turned off before you begin. They can be a useful learning tool, but they also mean that you may just give yourself something else to battle with for your students’ attention. If you’d like to use electronics in your lesson, make sure they’re your own in order to retain full control of the learning environment.

      Talk!

      Despite your bottom-line being how well your students learn, it’s really important to build your own relationship with them so that they feel comfortable enough to concentrate. This could include something as small as a funny thing that happened to you recently, or how you overcame the same musical problem they’re currently struggling with.

      Children – especially in their teenage years – can often feel undermined or misunderstood by adults, so be sure to ask them how they’re feeling and getting on generally at the time. It may take a while before they trust you enough to engage in this way, but a lot of young people will appreciate you taking an interest in them (even if they don’t show it at first!).

      Finally, try to memorise their most important people, interests and passions. Their best friends, a favourite character from a books or film – obviously a favourite band/artist – but most importantly, their family members. These are the most influential and important things in their lives, so to have a respectful understanding of them is important.

      Ask for Help

      If you’re struggling with absolutely anything to do with your music teaching, there are a lot of support networks out there for you to contact. Here at RSL we are proud members and supporters of the Musicians’ Union, Incorporated Society of Musicians, Music Industries Association and Music Teachers Association who will all be more than willing to help any way they can, so don’t be shy!

      If you would like some help with anything RSL-based, then feel free to contact us by phone (0345 460 4747), email or our social channels (@RSLAwards).

      Be a Role Model

      Much like the ‘Wonderful Water’ entry (see above), this isn’t necessarily a necessity for your role; but if you want to be someone people are proud to endorse, then it’s a given that they’ll be doing so because of the respect you have for the opportunity each new student represents. Think about your manner, tone and overall respect for the human being who is trusting you to give them guidance on something they have a genuine enthusiasm for. Try to remember what it would’ve been like for you in their position and act accordingly.

      You’re going to be great.


      If you’d like to nominate yourself, or another music teacher, to feature in our Rockschool Stories series, please contact us at marketing@rslwards.com and we’ll get you started right away!

      *Depending on your teaching scenario (private, peripatetic, in-school or out of a music hub), you may need to adapt your approach slightly, but in the main, each of these points should be applicable*