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Motivating your students | Guest blog

July 24th, 2020 by

In this guest blog, drummer and educator Michael Hutchinson explores the topic of motivation, and how to effectively motivate your students.

How do you keep your students motivated?

Motivating your students is one of the hardest things to do as a teacher. We take motivation as a by-product of loving what we do, but we can lose the momentum and we can fall out of love with music and our instrument and we can become demotivated which shows in our playing and our attitude. To understand how to motivate we first need to know a little about motivation itself.

What is motivation?

To understand how to motivate we first need to know a little about motivation.
According to self-determination theory (SDT), a theory devised by Edward L Deci and Richard M Ryan’s work on motivation in the 1970’s and 1980’s (Ackerman, 2020).

There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is defined as completing an activity for inherent satisfaction and extrinsic motivation is completing an activity which you felt compelled to do (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Extrinsic motivation is interesting to understand, due to the many similarities we, as teachers use to motivate students. Ryan and Deci explained these similarities as a drive to behave in certain ways based on external sources and it results in external rewards” (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Those sources can be anything from grading systems, to gaining the respect of others (2020).

SDT also differentiates between autonomous motivation and controlled motivation, with autonomous motivation being self-directed and can come from extrinsic sources, yet with an understanding of the activity’s significance. Controlled motivation comes from external sources acted out of external rewards or fear of punishment (Ackerman, 2020).


A learner’s psychological needs

According to Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier & Ryan, every human has 3 psychological needs (1991):

• To feel competent: achieve the things you want to achieve

• The need for relatedness: develop meaningful relationships

• Autonomy: take initiatives and self-regulate

If we as instrumental teachers can satisfy these basic human needs then we can encourage motivation.

Instrument teachers can support this by:

• Helping the learners build competence through increased understanding

• Engaging the learners while attending to their socio-economic needs

• Helping the learners build upon and exercise autonomy by displaying the same behaviours.

• Asking what the students wants – guided lesson, not mastery

• Providing rationale to the lesson

• Praising effort and not achievement

• Encouraging parental support and involvement.

• Being involved yourself – turn up to exam centre and make your learners feel at ease.

• Encouraging self-initiated tasks and praise them for this.

• Feedback should be positive and support autonomy

• Giving the learner a choice on what to learn – especially for lessons you know the learner will not engage in.

• Never offer monetary or other prizes for achievement.

Tip: Teaching a drummer theory can sometimes be quite a difficult task. What I like to do is give them a choice of which note value they want to learn about, and we work on the identification of this and the different patterns you can use within that value. At this point, I take a song I know the student likes to play along with and have some fun trying to get the note value into the song. Then I move this knowledge into the RSL grade songs. At this point the student knows the value and is comfortable identifying and playing it, so will be intrinsically motivated to learn the grade song.

Rockschool Ukulele Method

As an instrumental teacher, you are pushing your students to pass an exam. You are ensuring that they get the best results possible by teaching them at the highest level, using RSL to guide them. This is standard practice across most instrument teachers within the UK, but by understanding extrinsic motivation causalities we can turn this to be intrinsic for the student. Parents or carers play an important part in motivation too. Using phrases like “if you pass this RSL grade 4 exam at merit or above I’ll buy you a new drum kit” may seem like a win-win for the student, but what if the student falls short? They will instantly feel demotivated and not good enough. Use the above list on how we can support students and we can make a start on keeping our students motivated the correct way.

The science behind motivation is thorough and there is a lot of information for teachers to help guide the learner, so I would recommend reading some of the articles presented in the bibliography to get a deeper understanding of SDT and how this can aid in understanding the needs of your learners.

Rockschool VIdeo Exams


Michael 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.


Instagram: @tripletdrumming

Twitter: @tripletdrumming


Ackerman, C. (2020). Self-Determination Theory of Motivation: Why Intrinsic Motivation Matters. Retrieved 25 June 2020, from

Deci, Edward L., and Ryan, Richard M. (1985) Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. 1st ed. New York: Springer Science Business Media, LLC, 1985. Perspectives in Social Psychology. Web.

Edward L. Deci, Robert J. Vallerand, Luc G. Pelletier & Richard M. Ryan (1991) Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective, Educational Psychologist, 26:3-4, 325-346, DOI: 10.1080/00461520.1991.9653137

Ryan, R. M. and Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25:54–67

Keeping Records – Why Is It Important? | Guest Blog

March 10th, 2020 by

As a self-employed person, record keeping is an essential part of our yearly routine to make sure our business runs by the book in the eye of the taxman! To follow up our article about Claiming Expenses for Music Teachers, we are going to discuss the importance of record keeping.

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

When you submit your tax return at the end of the financial year, you should have a collection of records to back up the claims you are putting forward. The records you keep will help determine a number of things such as your tax amount owed, the expenses that are deducted from your tax bill and your overall business profit and loss.

Records for Income

When you earn money, it is helpful to keep a record of this. Many music teachers use invoices with students as a proof of booking. This isn’t essential to your record keeping, but it is useful should you ever need to prove your income.

When tracking income for the business, an Excel spreadsheet is a good tool to utilise. You can create income records for each student for each month of the year. This allows you to filter by student name, by date, by month and more.

Having this master record of every pound that enters your business over the year is the starting point for working out everything else.

Records for Outgoings

Your business outgoings are your expenses. This is the money that you spend in order for your business to run. Knowing exactly what your income and outgoings are over the financial year allows HMRC to provide you with an accurate tax estimate.

Outgoing records are very important. If you are spending money that you plan to claim as a business expense you must have proof to back this up.

Proof of expenditure would be things like receipts or email invoices for products and services that you might have acquired for your business. For your home office expenses, you would need to be able to provide proof of your utility bills and rental costs.


Outgoing records are very important. If you are spending money that you plan to claim as a business expense you must have proof to back this up.

Don’t forget to keep a mileage log for claiming travel expense! Our guide to claiming expenses outlines the sort of things that you can claim for against your tax bill.

If you use a digital accountancy tool such as Quickbooks, you have the facility to scan in receipts and invoices so that you can keep digital copies rather than filing away loads of paper copies. This can save a lot of time when it comes to submit your accounts so that you aren’t rummaging around through a box of a thousand pieces of paper!

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…

Practise with Purpose: updated for 2020

March 5th, 2020 by

Practising can often feel like a chore, especially when a concert or exam is looming. It is important to use a practice diary and vary your routine to stay positive and motivated. Give yourself regular goals, and suddenly it’s not that boring after all!

Keep us posted on how your exam preparation is going by tweeting us @RSLAwards using the hashtag #practisewithpurpose.

Practise with Purpose

Practising regularly is key to any musician’s development, regardless of where they are on their musical journey. An absolute beginner and an experienced professional will practise in very different ways, but both will need a routine that helps them to maximise their potential by attaining new skills, and then maintaining and building on them.


If this is something you think your practice sessions could profit from, then try out RSL’s practice diary to help you practise with purpose, set realistic and achievable goals, and stay motivated! Practice is not about reaching perfection – it is about being better than you were yesterday.

How Can RSL’s Practice Diary Help?

This practice diary helps you keep track of your daily practice and monitor your own progress. Master a technique, nail a performance piece, and prepare for your next Rockschool exam.

On each page you’ll find space to make notes on your weekly practice routine to ensure that your sessions are as productive as possible, and that you are well prepared for the different sections of the Rockschool exams. Throughout the diary there are tips from some of the teachers on our RSL Teacher Registry – use these to inspire and motivate you along the way. You can find hundreds of Rockschool teachers on our Teacher Registry HERE.

Stay in Tune

We have included some blank sheet music as well as individual boxes for warm ups, supporting tests, and performance pieces that will allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, ultimately leading to more efficient and rewarding practice.

Happy practising!




Music Production A-Z

February 20th, 2020 by

In this week’s Music Production blog we’re getting nerdy. From Audio Interface to XLR, look no further for your A-Z of Music Production terms. Whether you’re preparing for an exam or are simply keen to learn some new terms, look no further!

A – Audio Interface

The computer peripheral which enables the user to input and output audio from a computer, converting the analogue sound into digital when recording and the digital back into audio when played back.

B – Bandwidth

The range of audio frequencies which directly influence the fidelity of a sound.

C – Chorusing

A nifty tool that makes a single sound appear to sound like an entire ensemble. The signal is duplicated and delayed slightly, with a subtle variation of pitch. These time and pitch differences are controlled by a low frequency oscillator (LFO) to provide a subtle variation to the sound.


DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation; this is what you’ll use for recording audio, editing audio, and all sorts of exciting functions.

Find out more about our Level 3 Music Production course in this video.

E – Event Editor

A DAW editor window which enables the editing of individual MIDI events using text.

F – Fader

The component on a mixing desk which adjusts the channel level. Faders are also emulated in DAWs.

G – Garageband

Available on iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products, Garageband is an entry level DAW (other DAWs are available…).

H – High Shelf

A type of equalisation which allows the engineer to remove all frequencies below a defined frequency, allowing the higher frequencies to pass.

I – Isolation

Limiting the amount of sound which can pass from one space to another. For example, sound isolation would be recommended to prevent road noise from outside entering a recording studio so that the noise isn’t recorded.

J – Jack Connector

A male connector commonly used in patch bays, line level equipment, and guitar connections.


Kilobits per second.

L – Logic Pro

Another DAW originally created by a company called C-Lab. It’s now owned by Apple.

M – Mini Jack

Not Jack Connector’s younger brother, but a jack connector with a diameter of 3.5mm and most commonly used by consumer headphones.

music production

Music Production can open DAWs for you.

N – Normalisation

The process of increasing the overall volume of a track.

O – Operating System

The software installed on a computer which controls its most basic functions. This is the graphic user interface that the user interacts with.

P – Producer

This is the person who typically leads the music recording project. Think Quincy Jones, Mark Ronson, Missy Elliott.


You can read about some of the most influential producers of the 21st century HERE.

Q – Quantise

Quantising is used to artificially fix parts of the track, correct errors, and add swing. This may detract from the organic sound of the recording and add a sense of artificiality to the recording.

R – Recording Studio

A room or complex of rooms which is used to record sound.

S – Surround Sound

An audio format which uses more than two speakers, arranged around the listener to provide a more realistic environment.

T – Transport

The controls of a DAW which enable the user to play, stop, pause, fast forward, rewind, and record.

music production coursework edition book covers

RSL’s Music Production exams are available from grades 1 through to 8.

U – Unison

When two or more instruments play the same an identical line of music simultaneously.

V – Voltage Controlled Oscillator

An oscillator (sound generator) whose pitch can be controlled via voltage variation.

W – Woofer

A speaker which is designed to producer lower frequencies.

We spoke to producer, Danton Supple, to hear his thoughts on the merits of studying music production.

X – XLR Connector

A balanced connection, used in most professional level equipment. The standard connection for microphones. Also referred to as a cannon connector.

Y – YouTube

The biggest social network in the world. An online video streaming service provided by Google where you can find all sorts of new music.

Z – Zedd

Zedd is a Russian-German DJ who neatly completes our A-Z. He’s worked with Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Selena Gomez, and primarily produces electro house music.



A Brief History of Music Production

February 13th, 2020 by

The first known audio recording was made in 1860, and a lot has changed in 160 years! This week we’ll be delving into the history of music production, and thinking about how general trends have changed along the way.

Make music, not war

The two World Wars in the first half of the twentieth century accelerated advancements in technology across the world as nations competed to one-up each other. Radio communication played a key role in the military, and it was only a matter of time before it was commercialised, with families turning to their radios as the main source of entertainment.

The first radio advertisement was rolled out in 1923, and music became increasingly popular during the bleakness of WWII. The increase in advertising on radio meant that stations now had larger budgets, and could pay for music with their newly acquired funds.

As music became more widely available and popular, it was inevitably commercialised. Big record labels held a monopoly on the music industry, and arguably still do, albeit to a lesser extent. Labels would identify potentially successful artists on their way to the top and provide them with the necessary resources to record their music in the hopes that some of the artists would become stars.

However, this is becoming an increasingly outdated paradigm as increasing numbers of artists are recording and producing their own music. Not only this, but even the way that people record and produce has changed.

Moving away from the studio

Arguably the most significant change in music production is that artists no longer require a studio to record. Previously, sessions at recording studios would take place at great expense. Music would be recorded in a live performance while producers simultaneously mixed the music.

As technology rapidly evolved in the 50s and 60s, there was a shift from live-mixing to multitrack recording. This meant that recordings could now be mixed after the initial session had ended, and that parts could be recorded on individual tracks before being mixed and compiled into one holistic tune.

A base track featuring the rhythm section could now be recorded in an initial session before vocals were recorded and added in over the top. Horns and string sections could also be recorded separately in separate takes. The ability to record multiple takes has revolutionised studio time for musicians, and made a meticulous, perfectionist approach possible.

The role of the music producer

Advances in technology are undoubtedly influential, and the music producer’s role has changed during that time too. The artist formerly relied on the producer to provide a critical eye and know the technical side of recording but they were expected to keep a distance from the creative process. This has now changed, as artists can produce their own material independently, and producers can be just as important to the creative process as band members.

Quincy Jones is one of the most successful producers and band leaders of all time. When working with Frank Sinatra, Sinatra would often introduce Quincy to the audience to ensure he received appropriate recognition for his efforts. This was a pivotal moment in celebrating the producer’s importance, as artists sought to collaborate with producers just as much as other bands and singers.

Quincy Jones is one of the biggest names in production, working with everyone from Michael Jackson to Count Basie.

Sometimes the producer will even overshadow the artist, and the singer or band that formerly hogged the limelight will be a secondary attraction to the producer. Timbaland produced some of the biggest hits of the 00s and released two albums under his own name.

The albums, ‘Shock Value’ and ‘Shock Value II’, featured the likes of Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake, and OneRepublic. Although by the release of ‘Shock Value II’ Timbaland had fallen slightly behind the likes of David Guetta in the production stakes, his name as the primary artist on the album pointed to the newfound importance and creative power displayed by producers.

Read more about some of the most influential music producers of the 21st century HERE.

Honey, I shrunk the studio

The size of the technology needed to record successful albums has radically decreased over time. There is now no need for an elaborate studio, and artists can mix and even create music on laptops.

DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) rule the roost now, and put the laptop at the core of music production for the time being at least. Streaming is the main way in which hear new music, and the internet is the main channel through which it is distributed. But this may change sooner than we think…

music production coursework edition book covers



Most Influential Music Producers of the 21st Century

February 6th, 2020 by

Performers often get all the credit for their hits, but in a lot of cases they work with incredibly talented producers who strive for perfection and push the artist’s music to the next level. This week we’re thinking about some of the most influential producers of the 21st century and the effect they’ve had on music.

Rick Rubin

Rick made his name towards the end of the twentieth century after he founded Def Jam records while still at high school. He went on to work with some of the music industry’s biggest names, and was named “the most important producer of the past 20 years” by MTV in 2007. Though some of his most well-recognised work took place before the turn of the millennium, he was twice recognised as Producer of the Year at the Grammys, in 2007 and 2009, for his work that encourages a stripped-back style that contributes to heightening the emotional power of his work.

Rick has worked with some of the biggest names in pop, including Adele.

Missy Elliott

The first female rapper in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a highly successful artist in her own right, Missy Elliott’s work as a producer may go under the radar. All the same, it is important to recognise her as one of the key figures in launching many major stars’ careers. Her own work as a recording artist caught the eye of Thom Yorke and Damon Albarn due to her genre-bending, avant-garde approach. Her production career spans almost 30 years, during which she has collaborated with Eminem, Janet Jackson, and even Michelle Obama, cementing her position as one of the most influential musicians of this century.

Mark Ronson

Cover star of our Grade 6 book, Mark Ronson started out as a DJ while studying at NYU and quickly became one of the most sought after producers in the industry. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the business: Bruno Mars, Lily Allen, and Lady Gaga to name a few. His ability to create a classic sound filled with horns that still feels fresh to a modern audience is unparalleled, as evidenced by the enduring success of his work on Amy Winehouse’s album, ‘Back to Black’, and the smash hit ‘Uptown Funk’ which saw him and Bruno Mars break record after record (if you’ll pardon the pun…).


Last year Timbaland released his Masterclass series where he imparted his knowledge about production in a series of online tutorials. He certainly kept himself busy in the 2010s by working on some of the leading singles from Justin Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience’ as well as Michael Jackson’s ‘Love Never Felt So Good’. However it was the mid-00s when he was at his peak – this was a time when the charts were seemingly filled with Timbaland-produced tunes. His own album, ‘Shock Value’ spawned several hits, perhaps most notably the track ‘Apologize’, which featured OneRepublic, transforming them into global stars.


Citing Daft Punk and Eric Prydz as influences, Avicii’s untimely death in 2018 closed the curtain on what had been a meteoric rise to the top for the Swedish producer. The song that launched his career into the mainstream, ‘Levels’, fused EDM and country music in a way that has been replicated by many artists since. This tune achieved Top 10 status in many European countries on its release, and topped the charts in Hungary, Norway, and his native Sweden.

David Guetta

David Guetta’s early days (and nights!) in music were spent DJing at nightclubs. He grew up in Paris and discovered house music in the late ‘80s, so his rise to being recognised as one of the biggest producers around was a gradual process. He received recognition from his peers, but really exploded onto the international scene in 2009 with two of the biggest songs of the decade. First was ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas. This became the most downloaded song of all time and topped the charts in 17 countries. The same summer saw the release of Guetta’s own track ‘When Love Takes Over’, featuring Kelly Rowland. His status was secured as one of the most sought after producers in pop.

Linda Perry

Linda Perry started from humble beginnings as a songwriter juggling multiple jobs when she moved to San Francisco in 1986. Fast forward to 2020 and she has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was nominated for the ‘Producer of the Year: Non-Classical’ Grammy award in 2019. P!nk released her second album, ‘Missundaztood’, in 2001, and it was Perry’s work on production and songwriting on this album that saw her stock soar. She went on to write ‘Beautiful’ for Christina Aguilera, and work with Alicia Keys on ‘Superwoman’, so there was no way we could ignore her when making this list!

Kanye West

Love him or loathe him, there’s no doubting Kanye West’s credentials as a producer. Hugely successful as a performer and writer in his own right, his production credits include the likes of Drake, John Legend, and Mary J. Blige, while he also worked with Alicia Keys and Ludacris in the early ’00s. In his own music he has more recently opted for a more stripped back approach, but this does not mean he has lost the meticulous, studious edge that made Kanye, Kanye.



Teaching Rockschool – Drums Debut | Guest Blog

January 31st, 2020 by

With the start of a new decade, we’re excited to invite a whole host of new Rockschool teachers to give their tips, tricks guides and advice for our Guest Blog series. This week, we’re introducing 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 loose 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.

Hi! 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.

The Grammy-Winning Album Produced in a Bedroom | Music Production

January 30th, 2020 by

Billie Eilish’s victory at the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday night was impressive for many reasons. Her age, the number of awards won (5, including the ‘Big Four’), and her distinct musical style all seem to defy the music industry’s status quo, but she is now impossible to write off as a passing fad; her haul of Grammys suggests she is here to stay.

Her immense success at such a young age may come as a surprise to some, but to those with their finger on the pulse it serves only to emphasise the importance of understanding music production to young musicians.

Billie’s ascension to the top table of pop music is testament to her hardwork and talent, but it is important not to disregard the work of her producer and brother, Finneas. His work on her debut album, ‘When We Fall Asleep Where Do We All Go?’, earned him recognition at the Grammys too, and he was quick to acknowledge how the album was largely produced in his bedroom at their family home.

Billie Eilish won five Grammy Awards this year, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Significantly, in an acceptance speech for one of their many awards, Finneas said “This is to all of the kids who are making music in their bedrooms today. You’re going to get one of these”. Proudly brandishing multiple Grammys might be the ultimate goal for musicians all over the world, but that level of success may well seem unattainable. So what’s the best solution for those who are taking their tentative first steps in music production?

“The laptop is the new guitar”

Long gone are the days when expensive recording studio sessions were the first steps in kickstarting a music career. Nowadays it is possible to create music on a laptop at minimal expense in the comfort of your own home. The wide availability of digital audio workstations (DAWs) coupled with the rise of social media and streaming services means that, with a helping of entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity, many artists can start generating their own music without holding out for a lucrative record deal.

When the RSL Team visited BBC Music Introducing 2019 back in November, we had the pleasure of listening to an entertaining talk between Laurie Vincent, one half of Slaves, and BBC Radio 1 DJ, Abbie McCarthy. In this discussion, Laurie boldly declared that “the laptop is the new guitar”.

Far from dismissing the guitar as a crucial instrument for songwriting and music-making, he was instead making the point that whereas the guitar used to be the go-to way for people starting out in music to write their own songs, it has now been replaced by the laptop because of its accessibility, portability, and malleability. People still play around with chords on the guitar and compose their own tunes just as before – the difference now is that these initial ideas can be developed into fully-fledged, recorded songs in an afternoon. Never before has it been easier to record, make beats, and produce your own homemade music.

A skill in its own right

Getting started can be as simple as opening up a DAW and hitting record, but mastering the many skills that make up music production is a complex process that takes dedication and talent. The application of techniques is likely to vary significantly from genre to genre; producing a track recorded by a jazz trio for an album will require a very different approach to producing an EDM track for DJs to play in a club.

At RSL Awards we believe that music production is crucial to supplementing your progress on an instrument. We also think that it is very much a skill in its own right. Our Music Production syllabus recognises this and is unique in having a range of assessment that stretches from grades 1 to 8 in order to prepare students for the wide range of roles within production.

More and more people are acknowledging the merits of studying Music Production as part of a well-rounded music education. Who knows, maybe it will open DAWs for you just as it has for the likes of Billie Eilish and Finneas…



10 Easy Steps to a Better Teacher Registry Profile in 2020

January 24th, 2020 by

We think our Teacher Registry is great, even if we do say so ourselves. It’s easy to create a profile, and very straightforward to upload all the relevant information. Best of all, it’s a completely FREE way to advertise your teaching services to thousands of potential students across the UK.

As our Teacher Registry continues to grow, teachers face more competition to get their profile noticed. At RSL we thought it would be good to give you some handy tips to improve your profile, get noticed, and stand out to potential students in 2020!

1. Upload a good quality image that reflects your teaching business

Make sure you choose a good quality photo that reflects you and your teaching business when creating your profile. Your photo doesn’t have to be a shot of you teaching someone, or a photo from a crazy angle at a gig; a photo that clearly shows your face is suitable. Of course, you may wish to include a picture of you with your instrument – just ensure it’s good quality and clear!

2.Use testimonials

RSL doesn’t officially endorse or affiliate itself with anyone on the Teacher Registry, so it’s always good to have someone else’s opinions on your teaching publicly available for others to see. Testimonials can be only two or three sentences in length but they go a long way in giving your profile credibility to someone who is not familiar with you.

Make sure you choose a good quality photo that reflects you and your teaching business when creating your profile.

3. Only upload relevant socials…

Social media is a great tool for a musician. Visibility across several platforms can be really useful, but it can get difficult to keep them all up to date. So, when uploading your profile, only choose the ones you feel accurately reflect your teaching persona and busy schedule. Your Instagram may consist of music related posts, but if your personal Facebook profile is full of dog pics then feel free to omit it from your Teacher Registry profile to maintain professionalism!

4. …and don’t create socials just for the sake of it

Although there are social media profile fields on the sign-up form, they aren’t compulsory to sign up for the Teacher Registry. There’s no need to create accounts just to fill out the fields on our form. Your teaching business might be more suited to some platforms than others, so don’t worry if you’re not on Instagram or LinkedIn – just include the most pertinent social media accounts that you feel best represent you as a musician and teacher.

5. Choose appropriate rates

Musicians are highly trained specialists, so don’t sell yourself short when choosing how much you charge. Unlike other teacher registries and tutoring websites, we don’t charge a commission on how much you earn – you get to keep ALL of your hard-earned cash without a middle man interfering. Therefore, adjust your rates to whatever suits you and your workload. However, do bear in mind that if your fees are too steep you may deter potential students. Check out ISM’s advice here.

6. Include an accurate website link

As a musician, you can really benefit from having your own website. Your own personal space on the web is perfect for posting performance clips, gig dates, and appropriate contact details. In order to optimise access to your website for students, ensure that your website address is preceded by HTTPS when signing up to our Teacher Registry. Doing this makes your site secure to access and means that we can fast-track the moderation process to get you up and running in no time!

7. Use a full link to your Twitter profile

Another common mistake is that teachers who apply to us include their Twitter handle in their Twitter section. Unfortunately our website isn’t able to link directly to Twitter handles yet, so do be sure to include a full URL link to your profile to ensure there aren’t any hitches in the moderation process.

8. Use the Additional Information section

Filling out the additional info section is not compulsory when signing up, but doing so accurately and succinctly will set you apart from other teachers and give your profile a polished look. Keep it brief, but personal. Use this box as a chance to let potential students know which instruments, grades and areas of music you specialise in, as well as what your teaching methods are likely to involve.

9. Include which instruments you teach

Potential students can filter by instrument when looking through teachers, so in order to appear to as many students as possible, be sure to include the instruments you are comfortable teaching. Remember, you can also include Music Theory and Music Production as topics for you to teach, so there are plenty of avenues for you to pursue.

10. Take pride in your profile

RSL’s Teacher Registry is a great resource that puts you, quite literally, on the map. This list should help you make the most of advertising your services and put you in a great position to secure new students and spread your love of music. We can only take you so far – now it’s up to you to sign up and submit an awesome profile that shows you at your best!