After using Rockschool to learn the guitar, Ed decided to pass on his expertise as a teacher at the tender age of 15! Ed kindly took a moment to answer some questions about how he manages his time as an educator, session musician and solo artist.
Why did you decide to start teaching music?
I started teaching at the age of around 15 to the children of my mums friends. At first, I found it quite daunting but it was also a really enjoyable challenge to have. I stuck with it and I quickly warmed to it once I started seeing results. Music has been my passion from a young age, so to get the opportunity to share that passion with people of all ages, children and adults alike, and hopefully inspire them to learn is now a great privilege.
Why did you decide to teach using Rockschool?
I used Rockschool when I was growing up and thoroughly enjoyed the syllabus, so teaching it to others just seemed like an obvious step. All the pupils I teach want to learn everything about contemporary music, which Rockschool perfectly caters to, so it’s an ideal resource for what my students want to achieve. Prospective pupils have been able to find me online through the Rockschool Teacher Registry and start lessons straight away as well. It really helps that they’re aware of the material and why it’s the right choice for them before we even start.
How have your lessons changed over time?
I have learnt that all pupils are unique and that some take longer to learn certain things than others. I have also learnt that it takes time to get certain aspects of the Guitar sounding perfect, and thus that a lot of early guitar playing doesn’t need to sound perfect, it’s about getting that student to really focus on the technique itself. For me, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all teaching method, I approach each pupil’s syllabus differently and endeavour to steer lesson content towards the individual. The fundamental elements will always remain the same, but how people navigate those topics can vary a lot.
We saw on Instagram that you supported the Stereophonics! How did that come about?
I work as a session guitarist alongside my teaching business. Last year I was playing guitar for singer/songwriter ‘Ten Tonnes’ and one of the tours was supporting the Stereophonics! It was an incredible experience.Ed (far right) on tour with Ten Tonnes
You also write and release your own original material – can you give us an overview of your work as an artist up to present day?
I have two solo projects. One as a folk/acoustic singer-songwriter, for which I have released two EPs (one live) and three singles. I have performed at a number of festivals across the UK and support slots in London, and have been played regularly on BBC Introducing Merseyside (I am from Chester originally). My second project is as a producer under the name ‘edbl’, which is more R&B/Hip-Hop orientated and features a number of guest vocals. I have released three singles all of which have been played on BBC Introducing London and one BBC Radio 1xtra. Teaching is a really good option to fit around personal projects like this. I’d advise any musician to take a look into taking on their own students as it’s a really fulfilling way to pass on your knowledge and earn some money in the process.
Last year must’ve been super-exiting given that you toured with George Ezra and Ten Tonnes – how was the whole experience?
Last year was the most live shows I’ve done in a year – over 100 in total. It was incredible! With Ten Tonnes we did three support tours back to back at the beginning of the year, then UK festival circuit throughout the summer, which led into a bus tour supporting George Ezra in the UK and Europe. The whole year was amazing and it was such a great experience to do so many shows, to so many different crowds of music fans in the UK and abroad. Hopefully my students see that as something they call also achieve themselves if they put the hours in.
You’ve had some of your music played on BBC1 extra and BBC radio London. Could you give our followers an idea of the journey from recording a track to having it played on the radio?
I record everything in my home - I have a basic setup: monitors, interface, mic etc, and I use Logic for mixing/producing. Once the tracks are ready I use AWAL – a distribution service – to get my songs onto streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. I also upload each track to the BBC Introducing uploader, which actually led to playing at the BBC Introducing events in both London and Merseyside. The 1xtra play came about because I emailed my track directly to Jamz Supernova and she very kindly got back to me, said she liked my stuff and played it! A lot of the time with these things it’s about taking advantage of as much as you can, whether that’s networks supporting young artists or a radio producers email address someone has passed onto you.
How do you balance life as a musician and a music teacher?
I find that the two complement each other nicely. The teaching occupies my time on weeknights for which I am usually free. If I am touring then I always have the flexibility to come back to teaching once the trip’s over. You’ve obviously got to be organised and respectful of your students’ time, but I’ve always found it works really well.
What advice would you give to any young musician now who might see this and think about teaching music themselves?
I would definitely say: get into teaching now! If you’re passionate about music and proficient on your instrument (or instrument!) then there is no reason not to pass it on. It’s a great way to meet people who share your enthusiasm for creativity, and it also provides regular income which is really important when you’re starting out.
Would you like to give our readers an update of any upcoming projects?
I have one more single coming out under ‘edbl’, featuring a rapper called Kofi Stone. Other than that I would just say please feel free to check out either of my projects (Ed Black/edbl) and let me know what you think!