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We caught up with Your Space Music Lessons online brass teacher and professional musician Chris Robertson in our series 'Teachers who Inspire'.  As an extremely self motivated and energised individual, Chris clearly likes to take every challenge to the max! 

What age did you start playing a brass instrument?

‘I was 10 years old and in primary 6 at a Scottish school in Carnoustie. Before that I didn’t do much music, I went to Sunday school where I did some singing and bought a guitar but never played it.  But then a man came into my school, Michael Robertson, and asked if anyone wanted to play a brass instrument and then it was like a butterfly effect from that moment.  It is the greatest single thing that ever happened to me.’
 
What instrument did you start on?
‘I had really big gappy teeth back then so he said you’ll be on a big instrument and I’m like OK!  So I started on trombone but I was really small and I just couldn’t reach out to the bottom positions or easily fit the instrument together, there weren’t plastic trombones back then either.  I just didn’t get on with it so that went away and I got a baritone.  Then unfortunately the baritone got ruined by me and my Dad mistakenly putting cooking oil on the valves (as I heard that’s what I should do -  No!!).  After the baritone got broken I got a euphonium, although both my parents and I had never heard of a euphonium, but that’s been my instrument ever since.‘
 
What makes Euphonium so special?
Chris Robertson online brass teacher'Because it’s not hard to play the euphonium is probably the hardest part, alongside solo cornet, in terms of technique, range, solos, stamina, tonguing.  So to play the euphonium in a brass band you need to be a fairly good player.  In fact I had a student who played Euphonium to 2 years before moving onto a tuba, and it made me realise that a lot of people should do that because your reading of music is so much sharper.'
 
Was playing for the Brighouse and Rastrick band always a dream?
'It wasn’t always but the deeper I got into brass playing it became the dream.  I was never the best at school, there were always other kids better than me and that inspired me to improve and be like them.  My view is you can improve in anything and if you can, then why wouldn’t you want to?'
 
What was your best gig?
'I’ve done loads of good ones but I had a particularly memorable one with the Grimethorpe Colliery band where we played the film score for Brassed Off in the Royal Albert Hall in front of over 5000 people.  It had to be perfectly in sync with the film.  I played principal euphonium and it was my first gig with the band so that was an amazing concert.'
 
Can you bring those experiences from performing into the lessons?
'It’s just experience of knowing ‘why’ you are doing it not just ‘what’ to do.  If you’re doing it all the time it is very easy to forget why. For me that’s the most important element, you can learn these phrases, the notes and the rhythm but if you add the experience of playing in the Royal Albert Hall and understand what impact your music can make, it takes on a completely different feel.  Music is very powerful. '

Do you have any Practise Tips

'I like to use sports to make practising much more visual for my students and to show them that exercises in music are just the same as going to the gym and exercising muscles.  We need to exercise the finger and hand muscles or it’s the lips or the tongue, which is one of the most important muscles we use.  I suggest things like if you were going to fire an arrow and if you don’t pull the string back very much it won’t go far.  But if you pull it right back then it will fly and that’s like the breath and blowing a brass instrument. It all comes back round to ‘why am I doing this' and this helps to follow a positive mindset in practising.'
 
Outside of music what do you enjoy doing?
'At school I did a bit of sport but I was never the best, I was small and I could never run.  Then I came out of music college with a music college body (I think that’s an extra large!) and fell in love with steps and walking.  I have a real addictive personality so if I see results, I’ll keep doing it. I started walking and then I started running and I haven’t looked back. I have just completed my first marathon, the Manchester Marathon.  At the same time I switched to being a vegan which has been really good for me as I love cooking and eating.  Music, Running and Cooking are a perfect mix!'

We are delighted to announce that online singing teacher Sarah Rowley will be joining the Your Space Music Lessons team from March 2022.  Sarah brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as an educator but also as a professional Soprano performing nationwide.  Her friendly and welcoming style will soon make new singing pupils feel at ease as they learn from the comfort of their own home online with us. 

Your Space Music Lessons Director Abigail Steele said 'Sarah encompasses everything we're about at Your Space Music Lessons, a friendly and warm approach together with expert knowledge and passion for music.  We strive for the very best people who will bring positive lesson experiences and we are thrilled Sarah is now part of the team'

Looking for online singing lessons?  Register for a free taster lesson and we'll be in touch.

Saxophone 'Extraordinaire' and Multi Instrumentalist Emily Neagle MMus | FRSM | BA (hons) has been teaching with Your Space Music Lessons for several years, we caught up with her recently to find out more about her love of music, her memorable gigs and her advice about learning to play.

Emily graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music and performs with the Momentum Quartet, a group of incredible like-minded professional saxophonists, and she is also part of the band 'Jazzmo'. As conductor of 2 wind bands at her local music centre in Christchurch, Emily really enjoys the thrill of working with young musicians who show enthusiasm and clear enjoyment of music. ‘I love seeing smiley faces both at the wind bands and in lessons and I think that learning a musical instrument really helps to grow social skills in everyone.’

Favourite Composer

‘When I was at university I was around at the time when composer Jenni Watson was there, and I really love her music. As part of Momentum we performed and recorded the piece ‘Tinged’. This is a fresh, modern and meandering stylistic piece which defies stereotypical saxophone pigeon-holing.'

Listen to Emily performing with Momentum Quartet Jenni Watson's piece Tinged: Watch and listen

Best Gig

'Got to be at the Royal Albert Hall with Momentum, a real stand out experience to play in such iconic surroundings. Although playing in Porto, Portugal for the World Saxophone Congress was also a wonderful experience’ Next Gig 'Jazzmo - 14th April at the historic Ringwood Meeting House, Hampshire.'

What do you like in a student?

'I love pupils who come into a lesson smiling and really engage in the session. It’s also wonderful when students practise regularly because it means we can keep moving forward and explore new things’ Why is playing good for you? 'Playing an instrument is good for everybody’s mental health, it stimulates the brain and helps with social skills if you get the opportunity to play with others. It’s also great to learn about the history of music and how genres of music evolved. Setting goals in learning an instrument is really important, so I would encourage taking music exams to help track your progress, when you progress through the grades it gives you a great sense of achievement.'

How to learn the saxophone as a beginner?'

It is tempting to think you can learn an instrument on your own, there's so many videos and apps around that give advice.  Not everything out there is necessarily good quality and you won't get technique support personal to you or feedback when you are doing things wrong. As a beginner it can be tricky to make a good sound in the initial stages so it's important to learn things in the right way and have positive feedback when you are on the right track.   With Your Space Music Lessons I teach in real time live online, it's interactive and I can see and hear everything to provide personal tuition tailored to you.  It's great not having to travel to lessons and being at home, it makes for a relaxed yet focused learning experience.

Emily's Tips for Practicing

'Small chunks of practising everyday is a good idea, even just 10 minutes. Listening to the piece you are playing is just as important, so find it online and make time to listen to it, it really helps to understand and interpret the music.'

Online Music School ‘Your Space Music Lessons’ have launched a brand new composing challenge on the theme of ‘THREE’.

The new competition will see their pupils writing music inspired by the ‘odd’ number, exploring the opportunities and new direction the theme will unravel in music. Your Space Music Lessons have a number of budding composers who have been taking part in regular challenges, who have received valuable feedback from a panel of musicians to help develop their musical ideas.

The theme of THREE opens up the imagination on many levels to explore the building blocks of music. Entrants could reflect the idea in melody, chords, rhythmic or harmonic styles; or consider dance styles both modern and traditional or use expression or tempo to represent ‘THREE’.

Pupils have 10 weeks to produce their music in recorded format, supported by their Your Space Music teacher, and the pieces will again be judged by a selected panel. There are 3 categories Junior, Teen and Adult, each with corresponding prize of £25 Amazon Gift, a Certificate and, if they can produce a score, their music will be professionally printed.

The challenge deadline is 28th April 2022.

More details and to upload your entry visit the competition page.

 

Space Music Lessons are offering an extra opportunity for pupils and the wider public to learn about Music Theory in 10 weekly sessions. The courses will cover the entire content of each grade from 1 - 5 giving opportunities to complete test papers at the end. The courses are led by a Your Space Music Lessons Teacher and will follow the ABRSM Workbook available here

As a guide each course will cover the following topics:

Grade 1

  • Basics of notation in treble and bass clef
  • Some simple time signatures
  • Some major keys and scales
  • Terms and signs

Grade 2

  • More basics of notation including triplets and triplet notes groups
  • Grouping of notes and rests
  • More simple time signatures
  • Extension of the stave up to two leger lines
  • Some relative major and minor keys
  • More terms and signs

Grade 3

  • Compound time signatures and the grouping of notes and rests
  • The demisemiquaver (32nd note) and its equivalent rest
  • Extension of the stave up to three ledge lines
  • Transposition at the octave between treble and bass clefs
  • Scales and key signatures of all major and minor keys up to and including four sharps and flats, in both forms of minor scales
  • Naming of intervals including type and number
  • Further terms and signs

Grade 4

  • All simple and compound time signatures and the grouping of rests and notes
  • The breve and its equivalent rest, double dotted notes/rests and duplets
  • The alto C clef and its transposition between clefs
  • Enharmonic equivalents, double sharp and flat signs
  • Scales and key signatures of all major and minor keys up to and including five sharps and flats, and the construction of the chromatic scale
  • Technical names (tonic, supertonic etc,)
  • Intervals between any two diatonic notes
  • Triads and chords in root position
  • More terms and signs including some French terms

Grade 5

  • Irregular time signatures and the grouping of notes and rests
  • The tenor C clef
  • Transposition at the octave between clefs and transposition to concert pitch of instruments in Bb, A or F Scales and key signatures of all major and minor keys up to and including six sharps and flats
  • All diatonic and chromatic intervals, and compound intervals
  • Root position, 1st inversion and 2nd inversion forms of the tonic, supertonic, subdominant and dominant chords in any of the keys set for the grade Identification of perfect, imperfect and plagal cadences
  • More terms and signs including Germans terms

Dates and Times of the Courses

  • Grade 1 with Erin Sproston - Saturday mornings starting 5th March at 10.00
  • Grade 2 with Olwen Macleod - Thursday evenings starting 3rd March at 18.40
  • Grade 3 with Matthew House - Tuesday evenings starting 1st March at 18.00
  • Grade 4 with Olwen Macleod - Thursday evenings starting 3rd March at 19.20
  • Grade 5 with Emily Neagle - Friday evenings starting at 4th March at 19.15
 

To book a place please register on the Workshops and Courses Page.

 

 

With such a wealth of talent amongst the Your Space Music Lesson team, we felt this year we should produce a piece together. Silent night is a wonderful carol that translates all around the world at Christmas time with scope for broad instrumentation, such a simple tune that everyone can enjoy. We commissioned Your Space teacher Kacie Rickells to arrange the carol for all the instruments that are taught at the school and for all teachers to receive their own personalised score for the piece, to be played precisely at 90bpm. What resulted was a wonderful warm sound full of interest across all instruments. We are proud to be able to bring our teachers together in such a way to showcase their expertise and our community. We hope you enjoy listening to it!

Professional pianist, composer, educator Alex Chisholm Loxley will be leading 2 special workshops at Your Space Music Lessons in November.  Firstly a piano sight-reading workshop for those looking to improve their technique and break down any mental blocks.  Alex will provide helpful tips about the process in a friendly and insightful session. 

As a prolific composer Alex will also be covering Piano Composition for pupils looking to engage in music writing on this instrument.   As a stand alone workshop, or as a support to the new Composition competition, Alex will provide interesting ways to develop your ideas and themes into a complete piece.

Piano Sight-reading Workshop

Monday 8th November at 6.30pm - pupils should contact us to express interest  

Piano Composition Workshop

Monday 15th November at 6.30pm - pupils should contact us to express interest  

Please click to find out more and register for workshops and courses 

We have teamed up with Normans Musical Instruments to provide a range of entry level beginner instruments to rent.  Our passion at Your Space Music Lessons has always been about accessible music tuition and we appreciate the cost of an instrument at the outset can be a barrier for some.  Together with online lessons, which can be taken at home, and the availability of affordable musical instruments we hope this service will help families looking to encourage and nurture musical talent.  Your Space Music Lessons has worked with Normans Musical Instruments on a number of occasions and can wholly recommend their instruments and service.  To take up a rental scheme you will need to apply the Your Space Music Lessons school reference:NRYSPL

For more details visit our instrument rental page.

 

Our very own Peter Edge and one of his Your Space pupils are performing in a fundraising gig on Sunday 27th June! As a new member of the UKs National Youth Music Theatre, Charlie is encouraged to fundraise for other children to have bursaries and to help pay towards the cost of theatre productions.

He is being brilliantly supported with his band Crows & Arrows and Peter. After 10 hours of online auditions, Charlie has been offered the part of Billy in Billy The Kid with the National Youth Music Theatre company!  He will be performing in August 2021 at the Michael Croft Theatre, Dulwich, UK.  

Charlie was encouraged to audition for the theatre company back in March which initially required 3 self tapes of him singing. Round 2 was a 5 hour workshop audition having learnt various scrips, songs and dances for Billy the Kid and a new commission called Henrietta. He was delighted to be asked to final rounds which required self tapes of more singing and dancing followed by 2 separate audition workshops.  During these he was tested not only for what he had prepared but also impromptu performance skills in singing, dancing and acting.  Whilst a huge amount of hard work and effort, Charlie says he loved the auditions as they were both fun and relaxing!   He is now learning the script and preparing the dances and songs ready for the 2 week residential rehearsals in Seven Oaks and a week in London just before the 4 night show is staged.  

Here's a little teaser to get you in the mood.... 

And most importantly.... Here's how to tune in

Date: Sunday 27th June Time: 3.25pm
 

TO WATCH THE LIVESTREAM 

There are two ways to do this:

1) By clicking on this YouTube link.... https://youtu.be/gUZrB8SZ5B8

2) By going to our Crows & Arrows YouTube Channel (please subscribe to us!) using the link below, where you will see all our videos posted, including the Livestream when it starts. 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClFkUlqwG_FP7v0eie5C8Xw


TO WATCH THE RECORDING AFTER THE EVENT

After the stream has finished it will also be available on our channel to watch later. You can use either of the links above to do this.

And finally, it's not too late to donate! You can do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/crowsnarrowsgitg4nymt

The recent Mars landing has been incredible to watch and has inspired us to launch a new composition competition - ‘Perseverance'

The ingenuity of the NASA team and the latest robotic technology involved will allow this rover mission to discover the hidden secrets of the red planet, which has already brought new images, videos and sounds to Earth for us. What else will they find, what will the atmosphere be like, will they find signs of life?

The theme of ‘Perseverance’ can be used in many ways for our composition competition. You could explore the 273 million mile journey of Perseverance from Earth to Mars, and describe in music, the very final stages of breaking through Mars’ atmosphere and the critical moments of landing the rover primed for exploration. Perhaps if you participated in our Moon Rabbit composition competition you can continue and develop your musical theme as you move to another planet? Or perhaps you would like to use the theme Perseverance to musically describe your experiences of living through a Pandemic and imagining the moment you experience social freedom again.

The way you represent the theme is entirely up to you, you can be as creative as you wish to let your imagination run wild in your music.

Find out more here

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