Instrumental & Singing Lessons
New lessons for 2018:
- Duet playing
Practical piano learning always starts with the student, his or her interests, age and abilities to concentrate, so students, with lots of support from family in the lesson and at home for practising, can start from the age of 2 or 3 years. Whether a beginner, a returner or already playing at a high level, Catherine can offer a new, fresh approach to playing and performing. And her results speak for themselves. Students are currently working for music scholarships, high level grades for UCAS points as well as just for pleasure!
Catherine is encouraging students to pair up to play duets as well, for exams, for fun, to entertain others and to improve general musicianship. Catherine often uses sightreading duets as a great way to work on fluency without it being remotely stressful. And from 2018 there will be one lesson a term for those wanting to share in duet playing.
From September 2018 45 minute lessons will be offered as well as standard 30 minute lessons. These are available for current students who have discussed their requirement for longer lessons- for example those who have a lot of time to practise, current siblings sharing 30 minute lessons and need longer, those who are taking higher level exams or are working towards competitions, scholarships and university and college entrance. Please note if you commit to 45 minute lessons this is a commitment for an academic year and you must give 3 months notice if you wish to stop lessons. This is because it is more difficult to fill a 45 minute lesson with another student who is less likely to want a long lesson.
Once children start school they are already learning on focussing on activities and starting to become aware of reading and decoding skills, so this is a perfect age to start learning to play the piano!
Find out more Duration: 30 mins
If your child is in the junior part of primary school, they will be making good progress with school subjects, so learning the piano can be part of something away from the school day, where they can build up a relationship with someone other than their class teacher, and develop skills that perhaps others haven’t taken up.
Find out more Duration: 30 mins
Students at secondary school may be total beginners – a number of mine have now gone on to university having only started at secondary school and achieving grade 6, to obtain UCAS points or grade 5 to show what can be done in a short time with determination and ambition…
Find out more Duration: 30 mins
Whether you’re a total beginner, a returner after many years or have taken grade 8 or more and want to keep playing/keep working, it’s a joy teaching adults and hopefully it’s a joy to learn!
Find out more Duration: 30 mins – 1hr
Singing is always part of young children’s musical learning, and as they get older, their interests and skills can be focussed on a mix of styles or music theatre, general singing or pop vocals. Catherine was always an alto at school, as she was good at reading music, then auditioned for a semi-professional choir at the age of 18 and was told she was a soprano. She sang as part of her degree in music for her finals at Cambridge University, performed in numerous concerts and choirs over the years, and in a contemporary opera’s premier, she has commissioned composer friends to write specifically for her voice. Since having children she has found her voice has changed (which is quite common) and she now sings alto again. She runs The Skylarks Community Choir in Berkeley and Rodborough Community Choir which is for all from secondary school age upwards, and all students and families and friends are welcome at either!
Megan struggles at school because of her dyslexia. She is a bright but quite shy student who loves singing – together we work to overcome her difficulties which has led to her doing very well in her Trinity College singing examinations, as well as performing at school, at other activities she attends, and at my concerts.
Megan comes out of her singing lessons buzzing. Catherine gives her so much support - her lessons and methods give her a real sense of achievement. Megan struggles so much academically with her dyslexia but Catherine ensures that she always feels positive and can succeed!
Music Theory Lessons
Theory is part of learning and we incorporate it into our lessons, talking about the music, how it is written on the page, and students are encouraged to work through fun, age appropriate theory books (lots of colouring and stickers for younger children!) to take theory exams and to use their knowledge for composition. Once or twice a term we run a theory class for those preparing for theory examinations. It is only a requirement of ABRSM to pass grade 5 theory but we encourage all students to take some exams. It is also a great introduction to taking public exams, such as 11+ and GCSEs without the pressure they create.
Theory is often considered the boring, dull bit of music learning, but students realise it can be fun especially when we have group lessons where we can all learn from each other and together; it really enhances their understanding of music and can improve their performances and outcomes.
As my student, Millicent, said after a theory workshop:
...that was so much fun! And I learned so much!
As of summer 2018, Catherine is also offering beginner cello lessons (she led the cello section in the Jewish National Youth Orchestra as a teenager, played cello at Cambridge University and now plays folk cello. She has a number of cellos she can hire out, from 1/16 size to ¾ size. The method she uses for younger children is called Stringbabies, and like Dogs & Birds works with pre-readers and those with dyslexia but she incorporates methods from Colourstrings as well.
A number of students have played their own compositions in Trinity examinations, where the 3rd piece can be an own composition, each grade having specifications for what is expected and should be included, and young children often want to show the examiner and play their own compositions at Early Learning exams. Indeed, London College of Music examiners have mentioned to me I should encourage students to work towards taking LCM graded composition exams, so this is what students will be offered soon! There will be one composition lesson per term for those wanting to share their pieces and learn more. I am also considering entering students for the Victoria College Examinations in composition which are very user friendly for younger students and have a very good plan of development for young composers.
Regular concerts and opportunities to perform
It is always so good to share our love of music so from early on I encourage students to play to each other, even if it is at handovers at the end of lessons. However regular concerts, often including tea and cake, fundraising for charity and other events are something we all look forward to. Recently some students played at a fundraiser for the Red Cross in Syria and in the summer at Christmas we have a tea party and concert in a village hall. It’s always a fantastic afternoon, parents are proud, students feel good and we all eat too much cake and make the world a better place!
Catherine is a registered member of the following professional bodies: