Tuition is given in the necessary skills needed to become a competent pianist and instruction is given in all aspects of technique and interpretation. Pianists work from books and other materials under tutorial guidance, working at a pace that is comfortable for them. Tuition in music theory is given, as this enables pianists to read and write music with fluency, accuracy, familiarity, and with understanding. Examinations are available in both practical and theoretical subjects for those who require them and these are creative goals. For pianists, these consist of eight graded exams (Grades 1 – 8) followed by the diplomas of the accredited examination boards of Trinity College London and/or The Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music. All these examinations can be taken under Michael’s experienced tutelage with excellent results. Exams, however, are not compulsory: learning simply for pleasure is always encouraged and supported, as any playing for pleasure can only come from playing with pleasure. Exam syllabi, while useful, are not a curriculum per se and exams will not be enjoyed or of benefit to every student.
- Enjoyment of the lessons and learning to play are the most important aspects of piano tuition
In teaching the piano, all styles are acknowledged and other styles as well as classical are used. Training is a mixture of learning pieces, practising various aspects of technique, music interpretation, musicianship skills, and learning music theory. Pianists have their lessons using the piano in the tutor’s home teaching studio.
- Interesting, varied and structured piano tuition
When learning the piano, or any instrument, regular practice to build and acquire musical skills – technical, emotional and interpretational is essential in order to make progress and gain musical and personal satisfaction. A piece of piano music is more than a series of notes in a rhythmic framework or musical structure. As well as general note accuracy, learning to read and play music and the development of a musical ear allowing recognition of musical features is important; students should also aim for good tone and phrasing along with appropriate musicality. When first learning a piece, it is good if expressive details can be included as early as possible as it is more difficult to add these expressive indications at a later stage. Whilst practising a piece of piano music, rather than a sole concern for accurate notes and rhythms, a small amount of time spent focusing on technique and the way the piano is played physically can produce enhanced results with the development of pianistic and musical skills, thus in turn increasing the pianist’s enjoyment and reward. Posture, height of the piano stool, hand and arm position, lateral and rotary movements, forearm rotary freedom, arm weight and flexibility, security, stamina, finger strength, pedalling, fingering and velocity and what should be practised between lessons and how, are all important. Moreover, playing is for pleasure, practice is for progress. Practising is work, but it is interesting work. Making an effort daily generally produces some good results.
- Practice makes progress rather than perfection
Students learn both technical, musical and notational concepts by playing, hearing and sometimes improvising with technique, rhythms, reading, note playing and artistry. It is important to take time to lay the groundwork of overall musicianship before moving students into the exam system if they so wish.
- The holistic approach to learning in this teaching practice is where students become visually musically literate with their eyes and aurally musically literate with their ears. Musical learning comes from listening, understanding, manipulating, relating patterns to other pieces, and creating music – not just from learning to read notation but understanding music aurally and to express it artistically. A fusion of keyboard competence and musical understanding.
Teaching the technique of the piano and teaching music through the piano
Tutor Dr Michael Spacie
Independent – Innovative – Individual – Inspired – Inclusive