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It’s Not Just About the Piano – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

“He gets so much more from this time than just piano.”

Oh, such wonderful music to my ears!

Yesterday I was having a conversation with the mother of one of my students, discussing our musical goals for her child. It was such a blessing to hear her say the words above, because that is exactly what I aim for when I teach. I love spending time with my students, watching them blossom, learn new skills and gain confidence. In fact, last week I was so excited when a teenage student finally (and beautifully) grasped a technique with which she had been struggling, my gleeful reaction gave her a wonderful chuckle! And a lot of pride :). I don’t want the only thing your child walks away with to be the basic piano know-how – these are the notes and this is where they are on the keyboard etc.

My hope is that the environment I provide in my Wallsend studio is encouraging, yet relaxed. I want my students to enjoy coming to their lessons and to know that I will guide and support them to meet the goals we have developed together. I am strict with technique, because I want my students to be the best they can be. Good technique translates to ease of playing, which ultimately will make it easier for them to simply enjoy what they are creating at the piano. But it’s about so much more than that.

Following are just some of the benefits I hope my students will take away from their time with me:

  • Increased confidence – learning to play the piano is hard work and requires dedication from the student. With each song they master, your child’s self-esteem will increase. Learning that mastering a new  skill is a patience-requiring process helps kids then approach other tasks in their life with a similar level of confidence instead of frustration.

  • Theory/musicianship – when learning to play an instrument, good theoretical knowledge is a vital skill that goes hand-in-hand with the practical playing. It’s not just about learning the concepts, but how those concepts fit in to what they are playing. Not just how to do something, but why you are doing it. Understanding how music is constructed not only helps with understanding music that is already written, but also aids greatly with improvisation and composition.

  • One-on-one attention – let’s face it… who doesn’t need this every now and then? Life today seems to be so busy, even for children. Their lesson is an opportunity for everything to be about just them. I enjoy learning about their lives and other interests so I can better understand them and how their minds operate but to them, this time is simply about them being special.

  • Critical and creative thinking – reading a piece of music requires a large dose of focus. The student needs to interpret both a rhythm and a note and translate that into what their hands will do on the keyboard, also considering technique. Then they need to immediately move on to the next one! A whole page of that can be rather daunting, but pianists develop these complex thought processes they will then take into many other areas of their life.

  • Music appreciation – through playing the piano, students are exposed to a range of music they might not otherwise encounter, from classical through to jazz and pop. I think it is important to be not just playing music, but immersing yourself in it and learning to appreciate the way different styles make you feel. Most people will identify a style of music they like for relaxation or for concentration, for example. I find Baroque is great for studying, but when it’s time for the housework, I need a good beat!

So it may not be that every week your child (or yourself, because this also applies to my adult students) comes home with a new piece of music to practise through the week, but they will have spent their lesson time immersed in music, feeling special, developing skills and absorbing more than they realise.

If you are considering music lessons for your child, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.

piano teacher Wallsend NSW

Sight Reading Tips – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

Sight reading is such an important skill for any musician to master. As a teacher, my ultimate aim is to teach my students the skills they need to be able to pick up a piece of music and play it on sight. No stress, no struggle – just enjoyment.

For examination students, it is also a component of the exam (for grades beyond Preliminary), so is certainly a necessary skill.

But sight reading doesn’t come as easily to some as it does to others.

The following article was written in consultation with educators who specialise in the skill of sight reading, hoping to make it less scary and more enjoyable 🙂

Piano lessons Wallsend NSW

 

10 Tips for Sight Reading Music

 

 

If you are considering music lessons for your child, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.

Piano Teacher Wallsend NSW

10 Stretches for Musicians – Piano Teacher in Wallsend, NSW

It is easy to underestimate the physical demands placed on our bodies when playing music. To prevent common injuries, we need to develop endurance, control and overall flexibility. Instrumentalists use their arm, hand and finger muscles extensively while performing and practising, making them vulnerable to a range of injuries.

Our bodies were designed to move, not hold static positions for a length of time as we do when playing an instrument. Added to this, musicians have the general problem of often spending these lengthy periods in far-from-natural positions.

Good posture is important whenever possible, so the body experiences correct alignment, therefore placing minimum stress on the body. Because the inevitable reality for musicians is a less-than-ideal posture that can lead to imbalances in flexibility and strength, it is imperative to keep our bodies flexible.

We can prevent injuries, relieve tension and ease arm and hand pain by integrating stretching exercises into our routine.

The following helpful article lists ten essential stretches for musicians. We warm up our instruments, so we should warm up our bodies as well.

Piano lessons Wallsend NSW

 

 

10 Essential Stretches for Musicians

 

 

If you are considering music lessons for your child, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.

Piano lessons Wallsend NSW

Why sit for an exam? – Piano Teacher in Wallsend and Lake Macquarie, NSW

Some students prefer the structure of working towards an exam, while others prefer to play just for enjoyment. Both options are perfectly good.

At merri bell music all students are taught the skills and techniques required for an exam even if they are learning for their own pleasure. I believe these skills will help them to play better, thereby increasing the range of music they are able to play and consequently enhance their enjoyment.

For those who are sitting on the fence about exams and don’t know whether to take the plunge, the AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) has recently published an article that lists five great reasons for sitting an exam. Rather than me repeating all the information, please click on the following link:

Why take an exam?

If you are considering music lessons for yourself or your child, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.

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Why are music lessons so important? – Piano teacher in Wallsend and Lake Macquarie, NSW

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, “I would teach children music, physics and philosophy; but more importantly music; for in the patterns of music and all the arts, are the keys to learning”.

Plato certainly had a point. Music uses both sides of the brain, a fact that makes it valuable in all areas of development as it affects the growth of a child’s brain academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Many studies conducted around the world have concluded there are benefits to children of learning music, with just a few examples listed below:

  • Music is to the brain as physical exercise is to the human body. Music tones the brain for auditory fitness and allows it to decipher between tone and pitch.
  • Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
  • A Swiss study of 1200 children showed how playing music helped children’s reading and verbal skills by improving concentration, memory and self- expression.
  • A Hong Kong study found that adults who had music training before the age of 12 years were better able to recall spoken words than adults who had little or no training in music.
  • A US study discovered that children aged 5–7 years who had been lagging behind in their school performance caught up with their peers in reading and were ahead of them in maths after seven months of music lessons.

We are emotional beings and every child requires an artistic outlet. Music is emotional and is an art form – it may be your child’s vehicle of expression.

Music is for life. Most people won’t be still playing soccer or netball at 70 or 80 years of age but they can sing. And they can play the piano or some other instrument. Music is a gift you can give your child that will last their entire lives.

If you are considering music lessons for your child, please contact me to discuss the options. Piano lessons are conducted at my studio in Wallsend, NSW or mobile lessons are available in the eastern suburbs of Lake Macquarie.

 

Piano lessons Wallsend NSW

Mobile lessons in Lake Macquarie, NSW

 

 

2014 Term 2 Information – Wallsend and Lake Macquarie Piano Teacher

How quickly is this year going?

As term 1 is ending this week, it’s time to think about term 2. The term 2 dates for NSW public schools (and the dates followed by merri bell music) are:

Monday 28 April – Saturday 28 June

This a a short term, being only nine weeks. I will shortly be sending out an email to all existing students (or parents) regarding term 2 details.