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Find out how Charity 'Music For All' Can Help Musicians in the UK

Chief Executive Paul McManus explains:

Music making is a life enhancing and life changing activity that should be able to be enjoyed by everyone.  Sadly, far too many people are not able to afford musical instruments or lessons to develop their talent. The cuts to budgets in schools put the teaching of music to the next generation under threat. Community music groups help break down cultural barriers and strengthen social unity, but most would benefit from a “helping hand” to fulfil their potential. This is where we come in!

Music for All exists to bring the world of music making to as many people as possible in the UK. Young, old, regardless of personal or life challenges, we truly want music to be for all.

Our charity is run entirely by volunteers who are all musicians, who know first-hand how the power of music changes lives for the better. We have minimal overheads and administrative costs, so money raised goes directly into helping the people, schools and projects that need us.

We are also fortunate to have a wide range of musical celebrities endorsing our charity. We are very proud to have Jools Holland as our Patron.

 

What do we do?

Music for All exists to bring the world of music making to as many people as possible in the UK.

 

1. We donate instruments and music tuition to individuals who need our help.

2. We make grants available to address the musical needs of community music groups and educational organisations.

3. We bring free of charge ‘Learn to Play’ experiences to people of all ages and backgrounds.

4. We promote the life changing benefits of music making.

 

www.musicforall.org.uk

In this digital age the opportunities to learn to play the piano have been revolutionised, and the search for a piano teacher doesn’t always lead where you would expect. 

Adult pupil, Jean said ‘I wanted to find some person to person piano lessons. But I couldn’t find one that was within my time frame after work and for certain dates I wanted. I didn’t want to travel too far and often I’m exhausted after working in the centre of London.’ In Jean’s case she was taking a term time group piano class with 11 other pianists in the building she works in but felt she would lose momentum during the summer break and wanted a solution to supplement her learning. Jean was open minded about trying new things and thought she would give live online piano lessons a go and booked her first three lessons to explore the opportunity.

Similarly, adult piano learner, James Williams found the time saving of learning at home an attractive feature after spotting an article about using Broadband for connecting and learning a musical instrument. ‘I finish work at 5.30pm and I can start my lesson at 5.30pm. Who else can say that?’ and his online piano teacher, Alex Chisholm Loxley sees the advantage for pupils like James, ‘when he’s got small children around and other stuff going on, he can just take half an hour out of the day to have a lesson and it keeps it all easy.’ And connecting virtually to a piano teacher outside of London was also a significant factor for James, ‘I think if I were to pursue this with the prices I have seen in my local area I may have not been able to keep up with it at London prices, £35 for a 30 minute lesson.’

8 year old Abi Johnston had a more stark choice when it came to a piano opportunity says her mum Lucie. When Abi’s ‘face-to-face’ teacher became unwell it became apparent what a barrier distance can be. ‘We live in the middle of nowhere. When we looked to get a new teacher the closest one was a 50 minute drive. So Abi would have had to stop or do online lessons. It’s been brilliant.’ Abi has gone on to pass an ABRSM music exam at her most local centre and really enjoys her online lessons, she says ‘I quite like how you don’t feel like there is someone watching you and judging you, like it can feel in face to face lessons.’

James’ passion for the piano and his regular contact with Alex has given him the skills to enter for ABRSM Grade 1 and 2 piano exams too, passing both with distinction, and he has a real vision to reach grade 8, although he does worry about learning online at that level ‘You worry that the quality would come across over to Alex. Can he hear my dynamics as much as I can hear them?’

This is an issue advanced online piano teacher, Mark Stawman, gets asked about a lot, ‘if pupils know the notes and you’re really working on the interpretation, the subtleties, the tone and the balance it’s worth investing in a good external microphone at grade 7 and 8’. USB Microphones can be purchased at £50 – 60 mark and used together with Skype or Zoom to enable the teacher to work at advanced level, but otherwise everyday laptop / tablet devices are generally fine for beginner and intermediate level players. Both Mark and Alex feel that online piano lessons have been ‘on trial’ but that everything that needs to be achieved can be done, so it’s been a massive game changer at all levels for people who can’t get to piano lessons, ‘Sharon’s grade 8 distinction was the moment of validation for me. We’re clearly not fooling ourselves that this works.’ says Alex.

So how do online piano teachers meet a high teaching quality benchmark? 

When it comes to things likes posture and fingering on the piano, the camera angle on the pupil becomes vitally important ‘you can frame the camera so you ensure you can advise on posture and hand position, and for the beginners a laptop with everyday broadband can be all that’s needed. Plus, all our teachers have a professional microphone and camera set up’ says Olwen Macleod, Teaching Director at Your Space Music Lessons, who specialises in teaching the piano online to beginner adults and children. ‘Everything is taken step by step as if the teacher is sat next to you. And we build positive motivating relationships to develop confidence in all our music students.’

The flow and focus of online piano lessons is an advantage thinks Mark ‘If I explain a passage I can demonstrate it quicker than if I have students in the room otherwise I have to say 'move out of the way’. You have to be really good at communicating, but I think that makes you a better teacher.’

Music teaching academics are increasingly reflecting on the activities of online music schools, ‘as a piano teacher at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow I have always been cautiously interested in the idea of online teaching but perhaps giving more thought to the potential problems rather than the potential advantages. Clearly the lessons are having a beneficial impact on the learners, both children and adults, and they are also without doubt enjoying their teachers’ 1 to 1 lessons with a similar ease of communication and enjoyment as they would have in ‘real’ life. My main concern has always been about sound quality and this is where our new digital age shines brightly and is a major factor in it’s recent success.’ says Isobel Anderson, Lecturer at RCS.

There’s still some way to changing the perception of online learning for something so personal and practical, as Jean says ‘Yeah people do think it’s strange. I think it’s the concept of it. It’s like how? how?’ and Online piano pupil Sophie Durrant still remembers chatting to other students in the ABRSM waiting room before her exam ‘They were really surprised as none had actually done it before, I was one of the first people to go in there having had skype lessons. Not many of them knew about it.’

Pupils drawn to online learning include those less at ease with mainstream learning. Alex concurs ‘I think my student Rebecca is a bit of a success story because she is clearly very passionate about piano, despite her learning disability, but this doesn’t hold her back at all. She had a face to face teacher before but has chosen to stick with my online lessons because she feels comfortable at home and this allows for a calm, controlled learning environment for her.’

The teacher / pupil relationships that develop in live online lessons are undoubtedly an important part of the learning process, and many pupils feel motivated and empowered by that agrees Sophie ‘If you have a teacher who says you did that really well and can tell you how to improve in a nice way it makes a big difference.’ and Jean also values the balanced learning relationship ‘it is quite good to communicate to your teacher ‘’let’s try something new’’ and we do.’ 

For aspiring musicians with barriers to accessing tuition, being open to live online piano lessons linking them to experienced good quality piano teachers can be a genuine solution, especially as the medium is producing equivalent results to traditional learning. Live online piano tuition enables positive human interaction to absorb learning, gives you the motivation and feedback you need to progress, whilst being in control in your own space to feel relaxed and comfortable.

'I didn’t intend to sign up for online piano lessons…but it works really well for me’ – Jean, London.

www.yourspacemusiclessons.com

Your Space Music Lessons teacher, Alison McAusland, offers valuable advice on trying to access the register notes for the first time:

A large number of my clarinet students are trying to access the register notes for the first time so this blog post is designed to help you. It is around the transition from ABRSM Grade 1-2 where you start playing notes over the break. Moving from the first register (chalumeau register) and the second register (the clarion register) can be frustrating at first – for both the player and anybody listening too! Sometimes the notes don’t sound at all and at other times they squeak. This is a point in a clarinetist’s journey which can undermine your confidence and you may even consider giving up. But don’t fear! Here are some tips designed to help you…

 

1. Check your embouchure (mouth position). A quick review of the basics can reveal why you are struggling to achieve notes in the second register. You need your bottom lip slightly tucked over your bottom set of teeth. Turn sideways and ask a friend or parent to check that you are doing this.

2. How much of the mouthpiece should be in your mouth? The answer is to have as much of the mouthpiece of your clarinet in your mouth as you can until the sound starts to change and it feels uncomfortable and you may start to squeak – experiment and find what feels right for you! Then the corners of your mouth draw in around the mouthpiece but being careful not to bite.

3. What should you do with your tongue? It might seem like a strange thing to think about but the tongue should be high up in the mouth when you blow a high note (as if you are saying ‘heee’). This will allow the high note to really sing. Remember to give the note enough air support or it won’t sound (see tip 5!). 

4. The strength and brand of reed you use can make a huge difference. If you are playing a reed that is too soft you will struggle to achieve the higher notes. I recommend beginners start on Vandoren strength 1.5 reeds because it is easier to achieve a good sound without feeling like you have to blow really hard. However, high notes require more air support and resistance and therefore you will find you need to move up to a Vandoren 2 or even a 2.5. The best reed to use varies between individuals. It’s your first time learning, but I’ve seen lots of people go through this – ask my advice before making a change. If you’re reading this and you’re not my student, then have a talk with your teacher. And if you don’t have a teacher, get in touch ! 

5. Air support for high notes is very important. You need great air speed to produce notes in the upper register. Imagine you had a hose pipe; turning the tap on stronger would make more water come out. That’s like blowing harder – it makes a louder note. But here you want better notes no matter the volume... so instead of turning the tap on, imagine squeezing the hosepipe at the end so you get a small, fast jet. It’s weird but if you picture this in your head you often get the result. Fast air is not just blowing harder but directing the air with control and at speed. 

6. Don’t tighten up. Lack of confidence in your own ability to produce the higher notes can cause jaw tightening. This tightening can prevent you from achieving your high notes. When you get nervous as you play (knowing that the high notes are coming up shortly) we tend to tense. This tension is felt throughout our bodies. Our shoulders rise up and our chest, jaw and throat all tighten. This can also lead to a firmer mouth position and even biting of the reed. Biting the reed reduces the vibrations and makes it more difficult for the notes to sound and you will squeak. Try dropping your shoulders, relax and then your throat and jaw are more likely to relax.

7. Check your finger positioning on the key: especially youngsters who have smaller hands can struggle here. There are two things to watch out for here. Firstly, covering the holes fully. Have you noticed that the holes on the right hand are bigger than those on the left? If you are not precise the notes will not sound properly, and the note might feel resistant. Try standing in front of a mirror and look at your fingers when you are playing. Are they any holes leaking air? Keep your fingers round and arched and you will get a feel for where your fingers need to be.

8. Watch out for your left thumb positioning! You should be rolling your thumb to hit the register key not removing it and placing it down. Also, check that when you roll your thumb to the register key that you are not moving your whole hand, as you will bump other keys. If you go through these tips and use it as a checklist then there will definitely be some things to work on. I would be really amazed if your troubles didn’t stem from one or more of these points. 

Finally, a note for people reading this who aren’t my own students. Beware that if you have already practised far enough with bad habits, making a change can seem like a step backwards and you might start to struggle or squeak morefor a little bit. But if you follow these guidelines, you will soon start to sound the notes more easily and with a sweeter tone.

Good luck, and happy practising!

Beaumont Park are hosting a make music day event on Saturday 22nd June when full facilities are available from 12 – 5pm.  Soloists, instrumentalists, choirs, bands and groups (all ages and abilities) are invited to perform on the iconic Beaumont Park bandstand in a relaxed family friendly environment.  Details of performers and schedules will be updated here and is subject to extension if more musicians wish to perform.

Encore – Songs from Musicals 12.00
Since Thursday 12.30
Chloe Reynolds 13.00
Fishing for Compliments 13.30
Longwood Amateur Operatics society 14.00
Whispering Jim 14.30
Your Space Jam 15.15
Jade Maguire 16.00
Hoots 16.30

 

Contact [email protected] should you reuire more details or would like to perform (spaces can be made available)

 

Win 10 online music lessons, a music stand and 2 tutorial books (worth £200)

Your Space Music Lessons is a live online music tuition service.  Add your email address below to be entered into the draw to win 10 x 30 minute lessons on an instrument of your choice (subject to availability), a music stand + 2 tutorial books.  Enter before 22nd April 2019 to qualify and the winner will be notified on 23rd April 2019. 

Prize details:

10 x 30 minute online music lessons delivered (by Your Space Music Lessons)

A music stand courtesy of Duet Shop rent to buy instruments

2 x tutorial books recommended by your teacher. 

 

Terms and conditions

1.  To enter the competition the entrant must subscribe to the Your Space Music Lessons mailing list between 28th March and 22nd April 2019
2.  The competition deadline is midnight on 22nd April 2019. 
3.  The prize is 10 x 30 minute online music lessons with a professional music teacher from Your Space Music Lessons to be booked and taken before 31/12/2019, 1 x music stand and 2 tutorial books (which will be sourced following notification of the winners instrument of level of playing).
4.  The recipient must have access to a computer / laptop or tablet in order to receive online lessons via Skype or Zoom.  To receive high quality lessons the recipient should have at least 2Mbps upload and download Internet speed. (test at www.speedtest.net).  The winner will be required to download meeting software Skype or Zoom on to their device to take lessons.
5.  There is no alternative prize or cash alternative.
6.  One winner will be randomly selected and notified by email on 23rd April 2019.

 

Add your email address to enter the competition

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Drumming lessons has been one of the last core instruments we have added to our instrument profile due to the complex nature of being able to to teach this instrument online.  However this is all about to change!  Since leaving the UK in 2015 and moving to Utah, Chris Livingstone has been itching to get back in front of drumming students in the UK and has set up a fantastic multi camera kit to teach students and deliver fun and interesting lessons via Zoom or Skype.  Chris is now up and running and ready to take new students as part of the Your Space Music Lessons network and free taster lessons are now available.  We are delighted to be able to partner with a passionate music educator who can offer the high standard of online music tuition we have set for Your Space Music Lessons.  Chris is able to teach the Rockschool syllabus to the highest level and / or teach individual pieces of music and programmes with varying styles.

 

Register for a free taster

We welcome Chris Robertson to the Your Space online music teaching team. Chris teaches brass, guitar and ukulele and is currently Solo Euphonium player with the reputable Brighouse and Rastrick band, as well as a member of the A4 Brass Quartet who perform around the world. A graduate of the RNCM (with first class honours) Chris has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to pass to budding musicians of any age.  Find out more and register for a free taster lesson with Chris 

We had a great time being interviewed by Claire Jackson for Country Life Magazine in the 2nd January 2018 edition. Claire even experienced a flute lesson with online flute teacher Ellie Haines to get a full understanding of how easy it is to connect with a teacher online.

 

Trust is a big factor when considering a music school and we know that a recommendation is often helpful for people looking for lessons. If you enjoy your lessons we hope you will tell others of your positive experience. Our new Trust Reward campaign is a £15 cashback reward to any pupil who recommends Your Space Music Lessons AND a £15 cashback payment to your friend or family member when they book their 1st regular priced lesson following a set of introductory lessons. The Trust Reward is valid for new recommended pupil registrations in 2019. Please make sure a new pupil mentions you during the registration process, which starts with a free taster lesson. The reward payment will be paid directly into a nominated Paypal account.

Snap Your Musical Instrument in the Best Christmas Photo Ever!  

UPLOAD A FUN CHRISTMAS PHOTO WITH YOUR MUSICAL INSTRUMENT TO OUR FACEBOOK OR TWITTER PAGE

We want to build a picture of musicians across the globe celebrating Christmas in their own way, so this year we are looking for the best Christmas Photo featuring a musical instrument.

Post your photo on our Facebook page here:  https://www.facebook.com/YourSpaceMusicLessons/

or tweet your image to us @yourspacemusiclessons

Don't forget to add #yourspacemusiclessons and #yourspacephotocomp with your entry to qualify & follow us to make sure you don't miss the winning photo.

Entries close midnight 8th December 2018. The winner of the best photo as judged by the Your Space Music Lessons team will be notified by 10th December 2018.

By entering the competition you give permission for Your Space Music Lessons to feature your photo on our website, on our social media channels and emails.  A £40 Amazon Gift Card will be sent to the winner as an e-gift via email.  The judges decision is final and  there is no alternative prize.  

 

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