Emma Clayton Music Tuition

What if I can't read music?

Please don't worry if you cannot read music. If you are a complete beginner, I will use Tuition books with you, which gradually teach the reading of music alongside your instrument. You will be reading music before you know it and will wonder why you thought it would be so hard!

I am a retired person. Is it too late to learn music?

Certainly not! In fact I often find more mature people to be the better and more dedicated students!

How early can a child begin music tuition?

This depends a lot on the enthusiasm of the child! There is not much point trying to force a child to learn and practice music who does not wish to. Children often get frustrated when they cannot achieve the sound they want to straight away so much encouragement is required! Another problem children often encounter, especially when learning clarinet or saxophone, is that their hands are a little too small to cover holes or reach keys. On average, I would say that age 6 is o.k to begin to learn, especially an instrument like piano where small hands can be worked around more easily. Saying that, I previously received an enquiry asking for lessons for a 2 year old, which inspired me to design the Finger Wiggles learning scheme (see information in the website). Obviously, if you have a child aged 5 who is mature for his age, and has his heart set on learning an instrument, he will not be turned away! My lessons for small children involve games and composition as well as following a Tuition book, so are interesting enough to keep them on-task!

How long does it take to learn a musical instrument?

This depends purely on the individual as everyone is different. If you have previously learned another instrument, you may find your progress very quick. If you cannot read music or have a problem (e.g. small hands, arthritis...) you may find progress slower. On average, I find people can complete a tuition book or achieve a grade in a year. 

Something to bear in mind, if you have chosen the Piano for your instrument, this does in general take a lot longer to reach Grade 1 than many other instruments. This is because there is so much potential with the instrument, you can create music with much more difficulty than the Saxophone, for example. Therefore the ABRSM grades start at a much higher level. On average it can take children in particular 2-3 years to reach Grade 1 standard. (This relates to other findings on the internet, not just my teaching experience.) Some parents get a little frustrated that their children take a long time to reach this standard. Please realize though that, if your child has learned how to read 2 different clefs of music and can play piano with his hands together smoothly, this is a lot to achieve in a year so he is doing really well!

Why is my clarinet or saxophone making a horrible sound?

There can be many reasons for this but please remember, it does take a while to refine your tone. It is quite an art to learn exactly how to position your mouth and exactly how hard to blow! Some students expect to be able to make a perfect sound straight away and are often a bit disappointed. Please don't worry, you will get there. It is probably a good idea to learn to laugh at the squeaks, you will make plenty at first!

I work shifts! Is it still possible to have music lessons?

As long as I have free spaces available at the time, of course you are welcome! It is worth bearing in mind that I can only do the days and times stated on my Lesson Availability page as this is my timetable. Some weeks spaces may be free for a one off lesson if somebody has cancelled, it all depends who is booked in on that week. I usually don't find it a problem to find spaces for shift workers or any other student requiring flexible days and times.

I would love to join a band like Allegro Ensemble but would I be good enough?

A lot of people shy away from joining bands because they worry that they will not be able to keep up or play as well as everyone else but, in reality, most members of bands have felt exactly the same when they first joined! Nobody expects a new member of a band to be able to play perfectly straight away, it takes time to get used to the music and playing with other musicians. Members of Allegro usually find themselves hardly able to keep up during their first week, then a year on helping and mentoring new members! So don't be shy, give it a go. You will be pleasantly surprised, if you stick with it, just how much your playing in general will improve, and how much fun it is to play with other musicians!

I really want my child to take music exams but he just wants to play for pleasure. What can I do?

A tricky situation! On one hand you want your child to enjoy his lessons, but on the other you are paying for his experience of becoming a musician, and feel that he would be better with formal feedback and qualifications to work towards. As a teacher, I need to respect the wishes of the child student, but cannot ignore those of the parents who are paying for the lessons! Something you can do as a parent is find out the reason why the child does not want to take an exam. If he feels shy, I could probably put his mind at rest as a teacher. If the child worries that the music may not be to his taste, I would try to persuade him to work on one exam piece at a time, alongside music that he enjoys. Before he knows it, he will be ready to take an exam, so could be persuaded then!

What is involved with taking an ABRSM music exam?

Please don't feel daunted by the idea of taking an exam, it can be lots of fun! You first need to pick 3 pieces of music that you like, one from each category in the syllabus: A, B and C. There is a wide variety of pieces to choose from, many students are surprised by how much they enjoy working on them! For woodwind exams two of the pieces will need live piano accompaniment, which can be provided by me in the early grades. I usually suggest a professional for grades 5 and above. You will also need to learn some scales and arpeggios etc. and memorize them. The examiner will only ask to hear a few on the day but they can be any from the list you have learned so be prepared! The next part of the exam is sight reading, a very short extract of music. The examiner will give you a piece of music that you won't have seen before on the day. You will have 30 seconds to study this and play parts if you want to. The piece must then be played back. Don't worry, I do lots of practice for this with you in lesson times! The final part of the exam is the Aural tests, four very short listening tests that vary slightly through the grades. Some students are horrified by the idea of the singing one but again don't worry, this is not as bad as it sounds! The examiner will not be assessing how well you can sing, he/ she just wants to know if you can remember what you heard. The easiest way to demonstrate this is by 'la- ing' something back, which will only be a tiny part of the exam. Again, all aural tests will be covered in depth during lesson time.

There are 3 periods of exam times a year, Spring, Summer and Winter. We discuss together when you feel you are ready to take the exam, I will never enter a student for an exam unless he/ she feels comfortable in doing so. On the day you will have a warm up time, then you will be asked to go into a private room where the (very nice!) examiner will be seated. Very occasionally there may be 2 people but this happens rarely when someone is training to be an examiner. There is never another candidate in the room with you. Child candidates need to be escorted to the room alone but there will always be an approachable steward to put them at ease and show them where to go. For woodwind exams, the accompanist will be in the room with you while the 2 pieces that need live piano are played. The accompanist will then leave the room to give you some privacy whilst you complete the rest of the exam. Early grade exams only take around 10- 15 minutes! A few weeks after the exam I should receive email notification to my private account with the results and will be on the phone to you as soon as possible! Nobody else can view my student results, it is strictly protected and confidential. A few days later I will get your helpful feedback from the examiner and hopefully a certificate!

Any more questions, please get in touch and I will be happy to answer them for you!

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