Bath Piano Lessons

Piano lessons in the city of Bath

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Piano Lessons in Bath 2018

Looking for piano lessons and a piano teacher in Bath? Do your children need extra piano tuition in addition to their school lessons? Or maybe you are looking for a new direction and inspiration for your piano playing?

I teach many pupils from a range of backgrounds and levels. I have a busy after-school schedule, teaching children of all ages from early years to A-level, where we work towards favourite pieces or more structured formats such as the ABRSM grades.

I also teach adult beginners, some who are complete beginners and have always wanted to play, and some returning to playing after having studied at school.

Whatever the reason, get in touch with me today to organise a lesson; there are currently a few spaces left for after-school lessons and I also have availability during the day, so if you are not working 9 – 5 hours, I may have a slot for you!

When I am not teaching, I write my own music for concerts and various other formats. So if you ever want to delve deeper into music, be it performance, composition, or the history of music, I am ready to share insights from my own practice and performance!

So get in touch today by clicking here!

Upcoming Events

As well as teaching piano lessons in Bath, I work as a composer pianist on a range of different projects. 2018 has already been a busy year with studio recordings completed for my latest work Cello Sonata No.1, which received its world premiere last year in Bath. This recording will be released as an EP in July 2018, with a launch show scheduled in Bristol.

There is also a highly anticipated show that forms part of the Bath Fringe Festival, scheduled for Saturday 9 June 2018. This will be a full program of new music plus eclectic selections from the repertoire, and tickets are available to book online now.

Bath Fringe Festival,  9.6.2018

St Michael’s Church, Bath BA1 5LJ

Tickets available through Ticketsource

EP Launch, 20.7.2018

Cafe Kino, Bristol, BS1 3RU

Tickets available through Headfirst

Piano Lessons in Bath for 2016

It was a busy end to 2015 and I was heavily involved in a number of tasks which saw me go off the blog radar a bit….. but all for worthy reasons!

Several of my students took piano exams and passed with great marks and comments from the examiner. There is still a wide differing of opinion amongst students, parents and teachers over the benefits of taking piano exams. The truth is, it depends on the individual. All I can say is that those who do commit themselves to taking an exam are giving themselves an opportunity to work towards something and gain valuable experiences from performing under pressure. Passing and getting a good mark has given all my students a renewed sense of confidence and purpose in their playing, which is sometimes easy to lose track of when you turn up to weekly lessons to practise the same three pieces.

In addition, the grade system does introduce new technical challenges with every step up, so there is a practical element there to progress your studies. All in all a very worthwhile endeavour for any piano student; I must also emphasise that I had an adult student pass with a great mark, so don’t talk yourself into thinking that piano grades are something you did when you were younger! You may find that your life is now allowing you the time to practise and you yourself are more focussed to practise the technical elements to perfection. It’s never too late 🙂

I was also involved in providing piano accompaniment for a colleague’s students taking flute and clarinet exams. This is extremely rewarding work, as you can take a step back as a teacher and focus on performing with someone. It’s amazing how much progress you see even between the rehearsal a few weeks before the exam, to the actual day itself. As a teacher, it’s easy to spot determination and hard work when it has been applied. It’s also easy to spot the combination of relief and delight, with having played better than your fears were telling you that you would. Personal development like this is, I believe, absolutely fundamental to any child’s education, and by learning a musical instrument you are forced into developing your skills, otherwise the music simply will not happen.

There was also a small matter of purchasing my first house. They say that the most stressful experience you can have in life is purchasing a house, and all I would say in response is that I wholeheartedly agree! But I can least look back on that process as something firmly in the past.

The new place only a few minutes from where I was previously living and easy to get to from London Road in Bath. There is also now a dedicated teaching studio which provides the right environment for practise and study. I still one or two slots available in the evening, plus more availability during the day, so if you are looking for piano lessons in 2016, get in touch with me here.

Piano Lessons in Bath for 2015

Looking for piano lessons in Bath? Do your children need extra piano tuition in addition to their school lessons? Or maybe you are looking for a new direction and inspiration for your piano playing?

Whatever the reason, get in touch with me today to organise a free introductory piano lesson. In January 2015 I will be going full time with teaching, and so will have many more early afternoon and evening slots available all through the week. I also have availability during the day, so if you are not working 9 – 5 hours, I may have a slot for you.

I teach many pupils at present, from a range of backgrounds and requirements. I have provided extra tuition for students already learning at school, providing alternative directions and ideas where existing tuition is heading into a rut. I also teach adult beginners, some completely from scratch who have always wanted to play but never had the time. It’s a wonderful experience to watch someone develop from nothing to playing a piece of music with both hands confidently.

I also work for The Piano Shop Bath, so I can advise you on getting the best piano for your budget.  And when I am not teaching, I am studying for my own advanced repertoire, as well as writing my own music for concerts. So if you ever want to delve deeper into the music, be it performance, composition, or the history of music, you will get plenty of information from me!

So get in touch today by clicking on the ‘Contact’ tab.

The Spring Student Recital

This post has been slightly delayed due my hectic teaching schedule, but I have finally grabbed five minutes to report on the wonderful student recital that took place in March. Back in December, I teamed up with Bath-based piano teacher Susanna Downes to organise a recital evening, where our students could play their pieces. You can read about this recital by following this link. It was a thorough success and this spurred Susanna and me to carry  on what we had started!

We decided to hold future recitals on a quarterly basis, to give a sense of momentum to both students and parents. Having these recitals on a regular basis will give the students something regular to work towards outside of music exams. In music exams, a large part of the marks are given to performance, and yet there is little guidance on how to work on this. This is because performing is something you have to do regularly in order to gain experience; you learn how to deal with the inevitable nerves and demands of concentration.

Creating a performance environment is not a simple task. From a teachers’ perspective it is potentially a logistical nightmare. I have tried to compile a to do list, which is not exclusive, and hopefully gives an idea of what is involved:

  1. Find a suitable hall that is large enough, has chairs on site and is easy to access for all your students.
  2. Coordinate with parents to find a suitable date and see if that is available with the hall.
  3. If there is no piano on site, you need to arrange for delivery, removal and tuning of the piano.
  4. Invitations/tickets for the recital and repeated confirmations/reminders with parents to attend!
  5. Arrange Drinks/refreshments.
  6. Arrive a good few hours before doors open to arrange the hall and for a concert performance.

As I mentioned, this is not an exclusive list and you need to be prepared for all the things that might go wrong! We had one or two minor things, but the main aspects of the recital were well prepared for and as a result it went smoothly.

Organising an event like this provides little financial return for the teacher, and requires a great deal of organisation on top of regular teaching commitments. So why did we go to all of this effort? It was, of course, all for the students and their musical development. I still remember getting an unnecessary amount of nerves in music exams, simply because I was not used to performing outside of the exam room. As a consequence, any fun I could have derived from playing the music was diminished, because I was a bundle of nerves.

The only remedy is regular performance practise opportunities, which conditions your mind and body to the unique situation of performing music to an audience. At the heart of our student recitals, we try foster an atmosphere of support from the audience (who are anyway family and friends) giving the student something to feed off and help settle them into the music. When you can do this, you start to enjoy the music and performing to an audience.

St John’s church hall provided the setting; a medium-size hall, with excellent acoustics, and the essential kitchen area for serving tea and squash! We also continued our proud association with The Piano Shop Bath, who sponsored the evening and really spoilt us. The Piano Shop Bath supplied a Yamaha C7 concert grand, professionally delivered by the the delivery team and expertly tuned by Stephen Cooper. You can see from the pictures how good it looks, but more importantly it has an exceptionally balanced action and tone. As a pianist, I can tell you that having a quality instrument beneath your fingers inspires good playing, as you are not wasting effort worrying about certain keys that are getting stuck, or an action which is too heavy for all those delicate passages you spent hours practising. So many thanks once again to The Piano Shop Bath and the team for making this possible for the students.

A performance on the Yamaha C7 grand piano

A performance on the Yamaha C7 grand piano

As performers and families arrived, it quickly became clear that this event was going to be a sell-out! A fantastic turnout ensured rapturous applause for all the players, all of whom excelled in their performances. The occasion was clearly motivating everyone to play their best; I could tell my students had nerves, but they were clearly rising to the occasion and bringing out polished performances. My weekly teaching advise of ‘remember to keep counting’ was definitely being utilised, to my relief. And it was a very proud moment for me, to see students who I had taught from a point of not knowing a piece, to performing in a recital with such confidence. To answer an earlier question, this is why we put in the work to organise the recital.

Certificates being awarded at the Spring Recital

Certificates being awarded at the Spring Recital

All the players were awarded a certificate for their efforts, and seeing those previously nerve-wracked faces replaced by beams of confidence and pride, was a very touching moment. The question soon being asked was, ‘When is the next one?’ Susanna and I have already begun organising the next recital for summer, and I look forward immensely to see how the students have progressed.

Book Recommendations for Early Learners of the Piano

There are many books available for young piano students of 5 – 8 years of age; it is a lucrative and highly competitive market, and choosing the right book for your child can be a minefield. It is also a difficult age range to write for, as a child grows and develops at an amazing rate, coming out of the pre school environment into one where they are being thrown numerous new concepts and skills to learn.

No two children are the same, one may respond well to one book while another may hate it. There will be trial and error in the process. I would like to share a couple of titles that I have found to be effective and yet fun for the learner. I have found these books work well primarily because the design is uncluttered and inviting, with advancing steps in technique and theory made at a steady pace. These books proved themselves through the trial and error process, so hopefully it will give you a head start.

One of my guiding principals has always been ‘can I understand the book easily’. You do not have to know anything about music to notice when a book has cluttered design and layout, or jumps from reading notes to sharps and flats within the first two pages.

Most children need to grasp the initial concept of associating a dot/line on the page with a key on the piano, and this is seldom easy. When that is comfortable, you then need to introduce how the appearance of the note also indicates a rhythm (crotchet, minim etc). When finally bringing two hands together to play, you have introduced three distinct skills that need to be performed simultaneously, before you can even consider musicality. That is already a lot of concepts to introduce to a young learner. Children are like sponges and do have an amazing capacity to take on many concepts, but this nearly always has to be done in a logical way that makes sense. So if you are struggling to understand the book, chances are your child will struggle too.

You can find the titles easily by searching on Amazon or Google. They are in no way a definitive guide, merely my current favourites that I have been using for the last few months. If you are unsure, you can go into your local music shop and compare them with other books, perhaps finding an alternative title that could work better for your child/student.

Me and My Piano, Fanny Waterman & Marion Harewood 

This is a great series because the book pages are colourful and uncluttered. The order of introducing a new note on the piano and gradually introducing the left hand is logical and there are no big jumps in theory concepts between sections. There is a gradual increment in difficulty level that is easy to adopt.

The Harewood & Waterman series also provides a series of test papers called ‘Monkey Puzzles’. These are a fun way of tackling pure musical theory, never the highlight of any piano lesson. However the ‘puzzles’ always relate the theory back to the keyboard and feature a points system to encourage concentration. The final paper of snakes and ladders through music theory has proved very popular with my students!

Poco Piano for Young Children, Ying Ying Ng & Margaret O’Sullivan Farrell

This was a revelation for me, as I was searching for a book that was super simplified in layout and technical progression. Many books for this age range tend to drop the learner straight into the deep end with key signatures and two octaves by page five. This book is  greatly staggered, simply working with a new note per page. The corresponding space or line on the stave is also colour coded, helping to highlight the new element being learned.

The design is clean and fresh, with imagery that is inviting while seamlessly incorporating the music stave into the overall picture.

It also has stickers. It will come as no surprise to most parents that young children respond well to stickers, as they are a form of reward. Here the stickers actually correspond to the answer of a question being asked, for example, a question on the treble clef would have a sticker showing the symbol for that clef. I have yet to come across a young learner who does not take to a small reward like this, and indeed learning should have a constant element of reward to create a sense of achievement.

Final Thought

I hope this helps, at least in getting started. Do not be surprised if you try one book and later end up buying another one from a different author. This is all part of the learning curve for student, teacher and parent.

Bath Piano Lessons – First Blog

This is the beginning of hopefully a regular blog on my piano lessons in Bath, UK.

Teaching piano offers a unique insight into people’s development as pianists. In my own piano studies, it is easy to get lost in endless self analysis and criticism. Hours of finessing legato lines and running octaves can narrow one’s outlook on learning, so teaching is a really good way to learn more about the instrument and the difficulties people can encounter with it.

I have a range of students from the youngest at 5 years of age to mature adult beginners. Each one presents challenges, as no two students are the same. We are all individuals, learning at different rates and responding to different teaching methods.

The two keys to teaching I have discovered so far are patience and empathy. Empathy is probably the most important skill of all. If I have a student who is losing concentration, I need to immediately ask myself ‘if I were in their shoes, why would I be losing concentration?’ This is especially pertinent for young beginners and I have found that this lovely summer weather can be a major distraction! So mixing up the lesson plan, trying new exercises and even just taking a 30 second breather can really help to find that focus for the last ten minutes of a lesson.

That’s it for now, but I hope to keep a more regular posting of teaching observations, my own studies and music life in Bath in general!

If you are looking for piano lessons in Bath or near by, then please do get in touch via my contact form!

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