Teaching News & Diary

 

Winter Term 2021  

Hello again, I do hope that you have had a wonderful Summer and that you are rested, refreshed & all prepared for the coming term!

Here’s some News & Information for you - please keep as a handy reference.

I now offer weekly news, along with your lesson timetable, nevertheless I do think it helpful to offer this information for the new term.

MAIN POINTS FOR WINTER TERM

Lessons: will commence on Monday 6th September and will end on Saturday 18th December (last day of Private lessons). I know that some (mainly Private) Schools will have broken up the previous week but not all (including Norfolk County Schools, whose term will end on Friday 17th December).

Covid-19 Safety Measures: For the present I think that it would be prudent to continue with Covid-19 safety measures for f2f lessons, as these are not too inhibitive and do offer a measure protection from this virus (which has not left us). I am hoping that it will not be too long before we can relax these and will be guided by future Government & Educational Authorities notices.

SaxWorld: For SaxWorld rehearsals there will also be safety measures, similar to those that we operate within school. Masks kept on until seated to play and maintaining a reasonable distance between players. I shall be sending full information to all SaxWorld members soon.

Half Term Lessons: I do intend to offer lessons during Half term and will most likely hold these on Thursday 28th October. Half term break is one week long this term: 23rd – 31st Oct for most Schools (21st Oct – 2nd Nov for Norwich School). I shall be teaching on Saturday 23rd Oct and there will be SaxWorld sessions on that day also.

ABRSM Winter Term 2021 Exam Results: have all come in and once again we have achieved excellent results despite the pandemic, the need for Online lessons and little preparation with the Piano in some instances. I am truly proud to say that every pupil achieved a pass in their exam and a good number with either a Distinction or Merit. All results are on display (on the Notice Board here at my home and in M23, my teaching room at Norwich School).

A very well done to all pupils, I do know and appreciate how hard you work to achieve these results.

To keep future standards high (and to maintain that 100% pass objective) we do have to be fully prepared in all areas of the exam syllabus (particularly with regard to scales & arpeggios, sight reading & aural). Attending to each specific section of the exam syllabus will ensure success and protect you from the most exact or strictest of examiners.

ABRSM Winter 2021 Exams: For Norwich School pupils exams are set to take place at the Norwich School Music Department during the penultimate week of the School’s Michaelmas term (week of the 6th December). Please confirm at the beginning of term if you do wish to take your exam this Summer (including Jazz exams). The closing date for all exams is Friday 24th September (this date may be a little flexible).

Due mainly to the Covid pandemic it is no longer possible for Private Pupils to join Norwich School pupils for exams within the School’s Music Department. All Private Pupils took their exam at Anteros Arts Centre last term and this will be the likely venue for this term also.

If you do plan to take an ABRSM Grade this term I would prefer to book your exam for you as this would ensure that all pupils are grouped together, making it possible for me to accompany you for your exam. Online booking commences on Monday 27th September.

For full information I would recommend that you visit the ABRSM website, look at the pages and videos regarding Performance Exams, keep a regular eye on the ABRSM website and sign up to their mailing list for updates: www.abrsm.org

ABRSM Music Theory: essential for those wishing to go beyond Grade 5 Practical exams (and aim to reach up to Grade 8 standard of performance). Music Theory also helps in many ways to gain a greater understanding of music & will certainly assist those preparing for GCSE & A level Music exams.

Please let me know if you would like to receive Music Theory lessons alongside your Practical Music lessons & we can look at how best to proceed.

ABRSM Music Theory exams have moved to Online for the present and so for more information and guidance regarding booking your own exam please go the ABRSM Website for information and guidance.

Annual Pupils’ Summer Recital: I have held this popular event for many years, first of all at the King Of Hearts, then at the Narthex (Catholic Cathedral) and finally at Soul Church. For future recitals it is likely that we shall weave solo performances into planned SaxWorld end of term concerts, which I do hope will be at the end of each term – the first being Saturday 11th December at St Anne’s Church, Colman Road, Norwich. It’s early days yet, but I shall keep you posted as it becomes clear how best to proceed with the Summer Recital (likely to be a larger event). I am certain that we shall enjoy each of these events.

New Pupils: At this time of the year I usually have a number of pupils leaving me, some for University and others joining one of our finest Music Conservatoires. Therefore, this does open up a few spaces in my diary. So, if you do know of anyone who would like Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Piano or Music Theory lessons then I would invite you to let them know that at this moment in time as I do have some openings.

Lesson spaces do tend to get filled rather quickly, particularly as term commences. I have already taken on three new pupils during the Summer break.

New Fees/Lesson Agreements: I send to you a new Lesson Agreement for 2021/2022 and would ask that you read this through, please sign and then return a copy of your form to me during the first week of term (scan & email is fine).

You will see that I have increased my fees this year. This is the first increase of lesson fees since 2014! I have avoided this change in fees due to the build-up to Brexit & then the pandemic.

Although this is an increase of only £1 per lesson I am sorry for the need to ask this but the sheer cost of technology, instruments, music, music accessories & equipment, repairs and servicing and many other expenses have made this necessary.

To explain further, I measure my fees by what fellow professional teachers charge. Professional teachers are usually members of the Musicians Union and/or the ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians), registered though DDC or DBS (for the safeguarding of pupils) and offer the very highest standard of tuition. Some, like myself, come from many years of professional experience within the world of music, as performers and recording artists and who now teach (either privately or within County Music Services or Independent Schools music departments).

Apart from actual lesson time that is spent with each of my pupils I also have to factor in the expense of running my tuition practice, such as: many hours of lesson preparation, updating pupils’ records, marking music theory, writing reports, writing pupil references, interviewing prospective pupils (I always offer a free consultation/initial lesson), holiday periods, instrument purchase (maintenance & repair), continued study & research, various insurances, advertising & marketing, accountant’s fees, music books, CDs, stationary, various technology (that I feel does offer to each pupil a much better lesson experience), phones & internet, transport and all the usual property expenses (rates, heating, electricity).

Finally, I do not charge for accompanying pupils in their exams or for music festivals and concerts. Many teachers do not play the piano and so their pupils would need to be accompanied by a professional pianist and so therefore would have to pay for both rehearsals and the exam.

Please do pardon me for opening up the inner workings of my teaching practice once again. However, I do feel strongly that you deserve to know how and why I reach the fee amount that I do and wish to confirm, as ever, that I am committed to give you 100% continued value for your ongoing investment.

Paying Fees by BACS: just a gentle reminder to ask that you do please make sure that you mark your name clearly when setting this up: i.e. ‘James Galway’s Flute lesson fees’. Most do come through with absolute clarity and so thank you for your kind assistance. Remember, you do have the option to pay fees monthly if you prefer.

Gifts & Cards: I really would like to thank you for your various gifts, cards & messages each term. I am truly grateful for these, particularly when you go to the trouble of preparing something of your own making or design. You can be sure that I do treasure these items and do keep a good number of them – most in fact!

Address Book/Pupil Information: Thank you for keeping me updated me with your contact details. Please let me reassure you that all pupil information is treated in the strictest confidence.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

My best wishes to you for another good term,

David

 

Summer Term 2021   

Hello, I do hope that you had good & enjoyable Easter break in readiness for Summer term.

The last few weeks have certainly been a significant improvement, in particular the return to School and Face to Face lessons.

Here’s my news & information for Summer Term:

1. Private Lessons: will commence on Monday 12th April. (Summer Term will end on Wednesday 21st July – last day of lessons). There are Easter Holiday lessons this coming Friday/9th April & Saturday/10th April (these are now fully booked and those attending should have received an email giving times of lessons. I shall be setting aside lesson days during Half Term & the Summer Break.

2. ABRSM Spring Term 2021 Exam Results: have all come in and once again we have achieved excellent results. Due to lockdown there was so little opportunity to prepare in a One to One/F2F setting and so I am truly proud to say that every pupil achieved a pass in their exam and a good number with either a Distinction or Merit. All results are on display (on the Notice Board here at my home) and Mark Sheets have been mailed to all who took their exam this term.

Once again, a very well done to all pupils, I do know and appreciate how hard you work to achieve these results.

To keep future standards high (and to maintain that 100% pass objective) we do have to be fully prepared in all areas of the exam syllabus (particularly with regard to scales & arpeggios, sight reading & aural). This will ensure success and protect you from the most exact or strictest of examiners.

3. ABRSM Summer 2021 Exams: are set to take place at the Norwich School Music Department during the penultimate week of the School’s Lent term (week of the 28th June). Please confirm at the beginning of term if you do wish to take your exam this Summer (including Jazz exams). The closing date for all exams is Friday 23rd April (this date may be a little flexible).

At this stage I am unsure regarding the possibility of Private Pupils being permitted to join Norwich School pupils for exams within the School’s Music Department. As you know, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only a very small number of pupils were able to take their exams at NS during Spring/Lent term.

Also, at present, there are no opportunities to take Practical exams at one of the regular Exam Venues (including Norwich) and so the only other option, other than at Norwich School, is to take your exam remotely – this would be a recorded/performance exam.

For full information I would recommend that you visit the ABRSM website, look at the pages and videos regarding Performance Exams, keep a regular eye on the ABRSM website and sign up to their mailing list for updates, particularly as the situation is constantly changing: www.abrsm.org

I shall be in discussion with the Music Department at Norwich School and will keep you posted regarding exams this term.

4. ABRSM EXAM PREPARATION, DISCOVERING MUSIC & LEARNING APPS: As you prepare for your exam I do need to stress that should know all of your scales & arpeggios and have a comprehensive understanding of the required Aural tests before you apply to take your exam. You will also need to have your pieces & study prepared to at least pass standard (at the beginning of term). This coming term should be for revising & refining as well as for looking closely at sight-reading skills.

For Aural preparation I would highly recommend that you purchase & download the ABRSM Aural Trainer App (Gr 1-5 & Gr 6-8) and also investigate other ABRSM Apps such as ones for Sight Reading and Practice Planning.

You can find these in any App Store on most Phones, certainly for iPhone or be guided by the link on the ABRSM website.

Music Copyright: Remember also that there is a very strict rule regarding actual copies of music used for the exam. Original published editions must be used (and not photocopies). For all information relating to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music & exam requirements please visit: www.abrsm.org

Music is a very special Artform: & such a powerful means to express. It is also great fun! (particularly within the experience of Ensemble playing – which should be the goal of every musician, whatever the age or standard). Let’s hope that we shall return to playing together soon!

Music is also Science: (exploring Mathematical principles & logic). Therefore, to reach any standard of performance in music, there does have to be a commitment to Discipline and Application. Avoiding these or compromising certain areas of study will produce a superficial understanding of music and have an effect on our level of performance.

Music is good for the whole being – Mind, Body & Spirit: There is an ocean of information online for you to explore with regard to this theme and all of it positive. To get the most out of this beautiful gift it is best to immerse yourself!

Listen, attend Concerts (when possible), watch (there is so much on BBC4, BBC2 and Sky Arts – as well as on You Tube and other streaming sites). These days it is so easy for you to explore, to discover and to then be inspired to find your own unique place within this endless landscape of Music.

Do aim to set a program, a clear Practice Schedule with set objectives for each session. Don’t avoid the disciplines of Scales, Arpeggios, Sight-Reading and Aural – which I shall introduce to your lessons and include within your Practice Planner. These will underpin all that you do in music – reading, sight-reading & all performance skills. Work on the set Studies that I aim to include in your weekly lessons. These offer diversity of style and playing skills.

Practice Planner: This should be in the form of a visible planner or diary, so that you are reminded and encouraged to keep on progressing. I would encourage you to bring a small diary with you to lessons, write down key points and also RECORD your lesson so that you can listen back and use each of the objectives set and demonstrations given (by me) during the lesson and weave these into your private practice. If you record the lesson then you can share this too. You will love to listen back and hear how you have moved forward, week by week and month by month. So, bring something to record onto – most mobile phones have Voice Memos on them now. I used to record my lessons onto a Cassette – back in the day! I still have some of these can you believe.

5. ABRSM Music Theory: this essential for those wishing to go beyond Grade 5 Practical exams (and aim to reach up to Grade 8 standard of performance). Music Theory also helps in many ways to gain a greater understanding of music & will certainly assist those preparing for GCSE & A level Music exams.

Please let me know if you would like to receive Music Theory lessons alongside your Practical Music lessons & we can look at how best to proceed. ABRSM Music Theory exams have moved to Online for the present and so for more information and guidance regarding booking your own exam please go the ABRSM Website for information and guidance.

6. Annual Pupils’ Summer Recital: Looking very unlikely for this year… I was considering the possibility of an outside event but this is fraught with too many issues and therefore implausible.

So, my sincere apologies but it looks like we shall have to wait until 2022.

However, in the meantime, I am continuing to assemble this ongoing idea of other events under the banner of ‘SaxWorld’. There will be at least one recording to come for Summer term and as we approach the first live event I shall be mailing you music and tracks to work with, in readiness for our first gathering. More on this as things unfold and as I do secure our venue for these events.

7. Private Pupils & Norwich School: Since leaving NCYM my Private teaching practice has never been more active. My diary is looking very full at present and there has been a constant flow of enquires this last term. I have met with new applicants online and will be taking on one or two new pupils for this new term.

In the Autumn I shall be reducing my work at Norwich School even further and will only be attending lessons there one day a week. The School have been understanding and very supportive and I look forward to continuing my work there for the next few years.

Ultimately my objective for the future is to concentrate my attention and energy only on my Private teaching work – One to One lessons and Ensembles, starting with SaxWorld.

8. Face to Face/One to One or Online/Zoom Lessons):

What a few months it has been. We enter this term with so much more optimism and hope for the future.

I am confident that Face to Face/One to One lessons are safe, provided that we do carefully follow the Covid-19 Safety Guidelines.

F2F lessons are most certainly more fulfilling and enjoyable than Online. Nevertheless, Online lessons do remain an good option, for reasons of Safety or Peace of mind and also convenience, therefore I shall always offer this as an option.

For those wishing to return to F2F lessons I offer to you these guidelines and propose that we use these please:

1.      Face to Face (F2F) or Online? This is completely your decision. I have set all Private lesson times (with a 5 min break in between each one) so that there is flexibility. Your lesson time is on your accompanying Invoice copy.

2.      F2F lessons – Use Sanitiser on arrival & at the end of your lesson. I shall provide this but do bring your own if preferred.

3.      Always sneeze/cough into a tissue (keep these handy and ready at all times). I also have these available here.

4.      All surfaces to be wiped – I shall provide Anti-bacterial Cleansing surface wipes and sprays & will use regularly.

5.      Minimise contact between individuals & maximise distancing. Use ventilation & only allow one person at a time to enter the teaching room. I do have very effective air condition system in the Music Room.

6.      I shall use Transparent Hygiene/Partition Screens during lessons – for your protection and mine also.

7.      I shall keep a careful log (which shall remain confidential) of lesson attendance – should there ever be the need for Track & Trace in the event of a local outbreak of Covid-19.

8.      I would ask that Parents (or those accompanying Pupils) please wait in the Car during lessons and avoid entering the home (hallway/reception area). The hallway and music room should have only one Pupil at a time. I shall aim for a smooth transition between lessons.

I shall post a new Safety Notice to you, along with your first lesson timetable, and place this on my Notice Board here at home and also at the entrance of M23 – my teaching room at Norwich School.

9. Paying Fees by BACS: just a gentle reminder to ask that you do please make sure that you mark your name clearly when setting this up: i.e. ‘Charlie Parker’s Saxophone Fees’. I do still receive one or two ‘mystery’ payments but most do come through with absolute clarity and so thank you for your kind assistance.

10. Address Book/ /Pupil Information: Thank you for keeping me updated me with your contact details. Please let me reassure you that all pupil information is treated in the strictest confidence.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

My best wishes as ever,

David

 

Spring Term 2021 

A very Happy New Year to you!

I do hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas and that you are now rested & ready for the new term! 

You will have received my email regarding the need to remain flexible as we move within these various Covid-19 Safety Tiers. Whether lessons are Online or Face to Face I assure you that you will receive lessons that are purposeful, progressive and fun!

Here’s some news & information for you, do please read this through and keep as a handy reference (particularly the various dates):

1. Private Lessons: will commence on Monday 4th January. (Spring Term will end on Saturday 27th March – last day of lessons). There are also lessons this coming Saturday 2nd January (these are Christmas/New Year holiday lessons and are now fully booked). Those attending should have received an email giving times of lessons.

2. ABRSM Winter Term 2020 Exam Results: have all come in and once again we have achieved truly excellent results! Nearly all pupils achieved either a Distinction or Merit. All results are on display (on the Notice Board here at my home). Very well done to all pupils, I do know and appreciate how hard you work to achieve these results.

To keep future standards high (and to maintain that 100% pass objective) we do have to be fully prepared in all areas of the exam syllabus (particularly with regard to scales & arpeggios, sight reading & aural). This will ensure success and protect you from the most exact or strictest of examiners.

3. ABRSM Spring 2021 Exams: are set to take place at the Norwich School Music Department during the penultimate week of the School’s Lent term (week of the 15th March). Please confirm at the beginning of term if you do wish to take your exam this Spring (including Jazz exams). The closing date for all exams is Friday 15th January (this date may be a little flexible, particularly if we return late to School).

I do need to stress that should know all of your scales & arpeggios and have a comprehensive understanding of the required Aural tests before you apply to take your exam. You will also need to have your pieces & study prepared to at least pass standard (at the beginning of term). This coming term should be for revising & refining as well as for looking closely at sight-reading skills.

For Aural preparation I would highly recommend that you purchase the excellent study booklet (which comes with a CD) ‘Specimen Aural Tests’ - available from St George’s Music or online from the Music Room: https://www.musicroom.com/. I would also highly recommend downloading the ABRSM Aural Trainer App (Gr 1-5 & Gr 6-8) and also investigate other ABRSM Apps such as ones for Sight Reading and Practice Planning. You can find these in any App Store on most Phones.

Remember also that there is a very strict rule regarding actual copies of music used for the exam. Original published editions must be used (and not photocopies). For all information relating to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music & exam requirements please visit: www.abrsm.org

4. ABRSM Music Theory: essential for those wishing to go beyond Grade 5 Practical exams (and aim to reach up to Grade 8 standard of performance). Music Theory also helps in many ways to gain a greater understanding of music & will certainly assist those preparing for GCSE & A level Music exams.

Please let me know if you would like to receive Music Theory lessons alongside your Practical Music lessons & we can look at how best to proceed. At present Music Theory Exams and Music ‘Performance’ Grade Exams are all Online and so it is best to look on the ABRSM Website for latest information and exam dates: https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-booking/exam-dates-and-fees/

As an option to Music Theory you can also qualify to proceed to Grades 6-8 by taking and passing the Jazz Grade 5 practical exam.

For some pupils this is a preferred option. As a bonus you get to learn the language of Jazz with it’s wonderful and diverse repertoire and also improvisation opportunities. I am equally at home and well versed in both Classical & Jazz traditions and so willing and very able to assist you.

5. Norfolk County Music Festival (Monday 8th - Friday 19th March 2021) – This annual Music Festival was established in 1925. Exact times and dates will be announced shortly and the Festival Programme will be available (from St George’s Music and hopefully online). This will give a full listing of all those performing at the Music Festival.

To performers & those wishing to attend I would highly recommend that you do get full information right away. If you are wishing to enter and to perform at the 2021 Music Festival I would ask that you go online and complete your entry form and submit this as soon as possible please. Closing date for entry is early January.

For those who would like to consider performing in 2022 I would invite you to attend this year’s event so that you get more of an idea of the nature of the Festival and also the standard of performances. In my opinion this remains the most prestigious event of its kind within this region. There is a competitive edge to the performances and public adjudication is not to everybody’s liking, but I do believe that there are great advantages to a) playing in public & b) being open to comments made by our adjudicators (which should always be to assist & to encourage).

There are allocated accompanists for the Music Festival (full details in the Programme) but I am prepared to accompany you if you prefer. Please discuss your intended repertoire (piece or pieces) with me as soon as possible.

Full details & contact information are available from the excellent NCMF Website - https://norfolkmusic.org.uk/booking/

6. Norfolk Young Musicians 2021: This annual competition (which is open to post Grade 8 pupils, age 25 and under) will take place at the John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich on Sunday 21st March (performances will be between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm with prizes and awards being presented by this year’s visiting adjudicator at the end of the day). You are very welcome to attend whichever session is suitable and entry is free (there is a retiring collection, to support this unique event).

In past years a good number of my pupils have been awarded prizes at the NYM Competition, including three pupils winning the title of ‘Norfolk Young Musician’ (the most recent being Finlay McEwen - who is now a professional musician).

Other award winners have been Jasmine Smith - now in her 2nd year of study at the Guildhall School of Music, Jonathan Jolly - now in his 2nd year reading Music at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Reuben Selby – now in his 1st year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Michael Anning – in his 3rd year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and due to commence two years of study for a Masters Degree in Music Performance & Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, having been awarded a Scholarship very recently).

One pupil, at least, will be applying to perform in March and so if you feel that you might like to join them do let me know.

I would highly recommend that you make plans to attend this unique and prestigious Competition, enjoy the music and support these competitors who have worked so hard to reach this standard of performance.

If you would like more specific times for 2021 performances do please let me know and I shall get these to you (once these are confirmed and listed).

For more information please visit: https://www.academyofstthomas.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Revised-NYM-Entry-Form-2021.pdf

7. Music Ensembles

As you know I strongly advocate that every pupil might find a place within some kind of musical ensemble. To me this has to be one of the most rewarding experiences of being a musician, at whatever level of ability.

There are so many options that await the music student of any instrument and thankfully we live in a County where this is recognized and (at present) supported by local government (despite budgets being so severely cut) and through the dedication of those within the County Music Services (now called the Norfolk Music Hub, of which I am now an Associate Teacher).

Many of my pupils, past and present, have found being part of ensembles such as the Norfolk Symphonic Wind Band (who were invited to play for HM Queen Elizabeth II at Sandringham for her Diamond Jubilee. Each member received a silver medallion as a token of appreciation for their participation). This excellent ensemble, directed by David Stowell (ex-member of HM Coldstream Guards), has also performed at National events at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall. Others have also found Norfolk Students’ Jazz Orchestra, now directed by Geraldine Evans, hugely beneficial. NSJO draws aspiring young Jazz musicians from across Norfolk and is the best environment to learn, explore, develop and to truly enjoy learning how to play Jazz and to Improvise. Past and present pupils have found that being a part of these two ensembles has been an essential part of their own journey.

I have posted a few of these ensemble opportunities on the notice board for you but do please have a look at the Music Hub website and see if there is something that would interest you. There are ensembles for pupils at most levels of ability and so you could journey through these as your technical and reading skills progress.

For many of you there are great opportunities for playing in an ensemble, band or an orchestra within your own school environment. This is not the situation for all however and so do please examine these options and speak with me so that we can discuss your personal objectives and preference. I will then do all that I can to assist you to discover the joy & fulfillment of making music with others within the right ensemble.

Norfolk Music Hub: http://www.norfolkmusichub.org.uk/site/

8. NCYM (Norfolk Centre for Young Musicians): As you know, after months of thought and careful consideration, I made the decision to end my time at NCYM and left at the end of last term. I have truly enjoyed my six years at NCYM, working hard to establish two excellent Saxophone ensembles and building up the Jazz Ensemble (from only 6 members initially). The pupils have been truly wonderful and a joy to teach.

However, there are a number of valid reasons why I felt that I had to leave. In my opinion, the move away from being a part of Norfolk County Music (who were in partnership with the Guildhall/NCYM originally) was unfortunate. Also, the departure of CYM/Guildhall School of Music Youth Academy Director (Stephen Dagg) was, again in my opinion, such a loss. Stephen truly was an enthusiastic and motivational presence and influence, visiting NCYM regularly. Since his departure, the landscape has changed considerably. Finally, since Covid-19 struck, I have also found Online ensembles to be increasingly frustrating, lacking in purpose or objective – due mainly to the fact that LIVE ensemble playing is at the heart of what these are about, playing and making music together.

9. A New Initiative for Norfolk: It is my intention to establish something new for Norfolk in due course – SaxWorld, which will consist of three Saxophone ensembles (Junior Saxology – for beginners up to approx’ Grade 4, Saxology – for players who are Grade 5 & above & Quartz – for advanced players). I have been directing Saxophone ensembles for many years now, within the School or Music School framework. I think that there is real scope to do this independently.

At present I am assessing the potential or need for such an initiative, planning things carefully and looking for the right location. Once we do see real signs that this Covid-19 Pandemic is over I aim to see these ensembles established. I shall keep you posted.

10. Annual Pupils’ Summer Recital was last held in 2019 at Soul Church (www.soulchurch.com) and was such a great success! As with each year’s Recital, we were treated to a wonderful variety of excellent performances from our soloists & various ensembles. The layout and design was set out in a ‘Jazz Café’ style and this was such a perfect environment in which to relax and to spend time together.

I am truly hoping that we might actually assemble again in 2021!

As well as being in discussion with a possible venue for SaxWorld I am looking at the prospect of moving our Summer Recital to the same venue (possibly King’s Community Church, Norwich – www.kingsnorwich.com or similar Church complex).

More on these plans to follow in due course… If you have any ideas or suggestions for the 2021 Annual Pupils’ Summer Recital do please let me know. These would be very welcome indeed.

11. New Pupils: Although I always have a busy teaching diary, for which I am always grateful, I do have a few spaces available (just a few). If you know of anyone who would like Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Piano or Music Theory lessons then I would invite you to let them know that I do have some openings at this moment in time.

Finally, thank you so very much for your gifts, cards and messages during the Christmas season, I do appreciate all of these so very much. I have quite a collection of cards, gifts & notes assembled over the years.

I look forward to seeing you soon. Please visit my website for ongoing news & information.

My best wishes to you for another excellent term.

Once again, a very Happy New Year to you and to all the family!

David

 

Winter Term 2020  

Hello again, I do hope that you have had a wonderful summer and that you are rested, refreshed & all prepared for the coming term!

Thank you to all pupils and parents for venturing out into the unknown (back in March) and being so willing to explore the regions of Zoom & Skype! I have found Online lessons to be enjoyable and also most beneficial. I have seen some amazing progress over these last weeks and months and a very well done to all pupils!

Here’s some News & Information for you, do please read through and keep as a handy reference.

Please pay special attention to notes on Covid-19 (Guidance & Instructions for F2F Woodwind lessons) and do please inform me as soon as possible which lesson option you prefer and intend to follow for this term: Face 2 Face or Online lessons.

I do intend to offer lessons during Half term and will most likely hold these on Friday 30th October. Half term break is a little longer this term: 22nd Oct – 1st Nov for most Schools (17th Oct – 2nd Nov for Norwich School).

Please feel free to start booking your lesson as soon as you are ready to plan ahead.

MAIN POINTS FOR WINTER/MICHAELMAS TERM

1. Lessons: will commence on Monday 7th September. Winter term lessons will end on Thursday 17th December (last day of Private lessons). I know that some (mainly Private) Schools will have broken up the previous week but not most (including all Norfolk County schools, whose term will end on Friday 18th December).

2a. ABRSM Winter Term Exams: As you know there were no ABRSM or Trinity music exams for Spring or Summer term. You have been receiving quite a lot of news from me (and also via the ABRSM website) – my apologies for that. These have been on-going updates and fresh information regarding the future format of exams, mainly caused by this current pandemic.

A major feature during this last term was the controversial decision by the ABRSM to offer exam candidates the option to avoid Scales, Sight-Reading and Aural - which is more in line with exam boards such as Trinity London.

I have expressed my disappointment to my friends at the ABRSM and they do appreciate and understand my concern. There has been a flow of correspondence between us, which shall continue.

In the final analysis, however, most of my pupils and parents do see the value of these necessary disciplines and so have made the decision to continue with a more comprehensive programme of study and have opted for the tried and tested ABRSM exam syllabus, including Scales & Arpeggios, Sight-Reading & Aural, which is respected worldwide.

This is my personal recommendation also.

There will be exceptions of course, particularly for those reaching the higher Grades and perhaps using the Performance Exam Grade (which is at present a continued recorded exam and not a live experience) as an introduction to the Dip ABRSM (Diploma in Music Performance).

I am willing to discuss and to explore all options as and when these arise. It is always worth examining these carefully and considering which are the most beneficial for each pupil.

Please see below some extremely helpful notes on music study and preparation for future exams.

Remember, to keep future standards high (and to maintain that 100% pass objective) we do have to be fully prepared & proficient in ALL AREAS of music study & discipline (particularly with regard to scales & arpeggios, reading skills, sight-reading & aural).

These, once mastered, will ensure success and protect you from the most exact or strictest of examiners. These disciplines will also equip you to be a rounded, secure and more fulfilled musician – for life!

2b. Music is a very special Artform & such a powerful means to express: It is also great fun! (particularly within the experience of Ensemble playing – which should be the goal of every musician, whatever the age or standard). Let’s hope that we shall return to playing together soon!

Music is also Science (exploring Mathematical principles & logic): Therefore, to reach any standard of performance in music, there does have to be a commitment to Discipline and Application. Avoiding these or compromising certain areas of study will produce a superficial or mediocre understanding of music and level of performance. This is why I love Music – this contrast between the wonder and the freedom to explore, to discover and to express alongside this day to day challenge of overcoming, this never ends for the musician. It is a lesson in life in many ways.

Music is good for the whole being – Mind, Body & Spirit. There is an ocean of information online, for you to explore with regard to this theme and all of it positive J To get the most out of this beautiful gift it is best to immerse yourself!

Listen, attend Concerts (when possible), watch: (so much on BBC4, BBC2 and Sky Arts – as well as on You Tube and other streaming sites). These days it is so easy for you to explore and to be inspired and then to find your own unique place within this endless landscape of Music.

Do aim to set a program, a clear Practice Schedule with set objectives for each session: Don’t avoid the disciplines of Scales, Arpeggios, Sight-Reading and Aural – which I shall introduce to your lessons and include within your Practice Planner. These will underpin all that you do in music – reading & all performance skills. Work on the set Studies that I aim to include in your weekly lessons.

Practice Planner: This should be in the form of a visible planner or diary, so that you are reminded and encouraged to keep on progressing. I would encourage you to bring a small diary with you to lessons, write down key points and also RECORD your lesson so that you can listen back and use each of the objectives set and demonstrations given (by me) during the lesson and weave these into your private practice. If you record the lesson then you can share this too. You will love to listen back and hear how you have moved forward, week by week and month by month. So, bring something to record onto – most mobile phones have Voice Memos on them now. I used to record my lessons onto a Cassette – back in the day! I still have some of these can you believe.

3. ABRSM Winter Exams: will be taken during the week of the 7th December (and are scheduled to be held at Norwich School). Please confirm at the beginning of term if you do wish to take your exam this term. The closing date for all exams is Friday 25th September.

I do need to stress the need for you to know all of your scales & arpeggios before you apply to take your exam and to also have your pieces & study prepared to at least pass standard. The coming term should be for revising & refining as well as for looking closely at aural & sight-reading. For further information and helpful advice do please visit the ABRSM website: www.abrsm.org

4. ABRSM Music Theory: essential for those wishing to go beyond Grade 5 Practical exams (and aim to reach up to Grade 8 standard of performance). Music Theory also helps in many ways to gain a greater understanding of music & will certainly assist those preparing for GCSE & A level Music exams.

Please let me know if you would like to receive Music Theory lessons alongside your Practical Music lessons & we can look at how best to proceed. The next Music Theory exams are scheduled to take place on Tuesday 10th November at 5pm (at either the Hewett School or ‘The Ark’/CNS). However, these may well switch to Online and so we do need to keep an eye on the ABRAM Website for updates. Perhaps you can alert me if you do discover something has changed all of a sudden! Thank you.

5. Annual Pupils’ Summer Recital: Is on hold at present… However, as soon as we have journeyed through this pandemic, reached a positive conclusion (and this thing being defeated by the finest medical & scientific minds in the world) we shall gather once again and celebrate!

6. Paying Fees by BACS: just a gentle reminder to ask that you do please make sure that you mark your name clearly when setting this up: i.e. ‘Jess Gillam’s Saxophone Fees’. I do still receive one or two ‘mystery’ payments but most do come through with absolute clarity and so thank you for your kind assistance.

7. New Pupils: At this time of the year I always have a cluster of pupils leaving me (sad but I am always excited for them), some for University and others joining one of our finest Music Conservatoires. So, this opens up a few spaces in my diary. If you know of anyone who would like Saxophone, Flute, Piano or Music Theory lessons then I would invite you to let them know that at this moment in time as I do have some openings. These do tend to get filled rather quickly as term commences.

8. Norwich School, Norfolk Music Hub & Private lessons (Covid-19/Risk Assessment & Guidance): I am thankful to Norwich School & County Music for giving some very clear guidance regarding future lessons at School and have incorporated their recommendations into those I have already gleaned from other sources.

Whichever option you do choose (F2F or Online) do please let me know so that I can plan your lesson carefully.

For those wishing to return to F2F lessons I offer to you these guidelines and propose that we use these please:

1.      Face to Face (F2F) or Online? This is completely your decision. I have given all Private pupils lesson times that can be used for either option. Your lesson time is on your accompanying Invoice copy.

2.      F2F lessons – Use Sanitiser on arrival & at the end of your lesson. I shall provide this but do bring your own if preferred.

3.      Always sneeze/cough into a tissue (keep these handy and ready at all times).

4.      All surfaces to be wiped – I shall provide Anti-bacterial Cleansing surface wipes & use regularly.

5.      Minimise contact between individuals & maximise distancing. Use ventilation & only allow one person at a time to enter the teaching room.

6.      I shall use Transparent Hygiene/Partition Screens during lessons – for your protection and mine also.

7.      I shall keep a careful log (which shall remain confidential) of lesson attendance – should there ever be the need for Track & Trace in the event of a local outbreak of Covid-19.

8.      Preferably I would ask that Parents (or those accompanying Pupils) please wait in the Car during lessons and avoid entering the home (hallway/reception area). The hallway and music room should have only one Pupil at a time. I shall aim for a smooth transition between lessons.

9. New Fees/New Lesson Agreements: I send to you a new Lesson Agreement for 2020/2021 and would ask that you read these through and if you are in agreement please sign and return this to me during the first week of term. Please do let me know if you would like a signed copy and I shall then make a copy of the agreement for you to keep for your own records. You will see that there has been no increase in my lesson fees once again.

10. Gifts & Cards: I really would like to thank you for your various gifts, cards & messages each term. I am truly grateful for these, particularly when you go to the trouble of preparing something of your own making or design. You can be sure that I do treasure these items (and do keep a good number of them – most in fact!).

11. Address Book/ /Pupil Information: Thank you for keeping me updated me with your contact details. Please let me reassure you that all pupil information is treated in the strictest confidence.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

My best wishes to you for another good term,

David

 

Summer Term 2020   

Hello, I do hope that you are having a good Easter break in readiness for Summer term.

The last few weeks have been difficult, particularly for those on the front line of this Covid-19 pandemic.

For my colleagues, particularly those committed to only performing and recording music, the immediate future remains uncertain.

For myself and my colleagues within the Teaching world it has been a case of doing whatever we can to preserve a professional standard & service for our Pupils and Parents and to offer continuity and encouragement by utilizing the very best facilities available to us via the Internet.

I do hope that you are finding Online lessons enjoyable, fun, engaging and yet still progressive and goal directed. I do have a firm eye on the future and keep a focus on the fact that this wretched virus will be defeated, ultimately, and that we shall return to our Schools and Music Academy (NCYM) in due course.

For the present I will continue to offer a mix of music (a continuous stream of all kinds of themes) for my Pupils to enjoy and to explore but will also keep a watch on the next objective – which will most likely be an ABRSM or Trinity exam but also to return to ensemble playing and to enjoy making music with friends and fellow students once again.

ONLINE LESSONS

I shall be looking for ways to further develop my Online lessons – using efficient technology & equipment and making excellent use of fast broadband (I have Virgin here at home, which has a Download Speed of 219.80 Mbps). This means that ZOOM is most certainly the best Platform for Online lessons, provided that Pupils have a similar Download Speed.

To test your Internet Speed I would recommend that you check this via a Speedtest App. If your Broadband is slow then Skype would be the better option perhaps.

Also find ways to improve your Internet connection – with either a Booster to your Router or Ethernet Cable. These would be good places to start. Also, be sure to have your Music lesson in the same room as your Router and avoid other Streaming whilst you are online.

ABRSM & TRINITY EXAMS

I am hoping that there will be exams at the end of Summer term. To that end I am assisting Pupils with their exam preparations and am in constant touch with both the ABRSM & Trinity. I am hoping that either Norwich School or a Norwich Exam Centre will agree to hold these exams. I shall of course keep you posted.

SUMMER TERM NEWS & INFORMATION

Here is some news & information for you; do please have a read through and keep this as a handy reference.

Lessons: Private lessons will commence on Monday 20th April.

NCYM lessons are scheduled to start Saturday 25th April.

Norwich School For this Summer term I shall amalgamate my NS Pupils with my Private Online lessons.

Do please look at the lesson dates & your lesson time on your Invoice.

I am going to offer Weekday lessons at these times:

MON – FRI: 9.00 am to 1.00 pm & 4.00 – 8.00 pm

SATURDAYS: 9.00 am to 11.55 NCYM Pupils Lessons and 12.00 – 1.00 pm Private Pupils

So, if you would like to move your lesson do please let me know and I shall respond by sending you options that are available.

PLEASE DO CONFIRM WHICH ONLINE PLATFORM THAT YOU PREFER – Zoom or Skype.

SUMMER TERM

Summer Term lessons will end on Wednesday 21st July (last day of lessons, when Norfolk County Schools commence their summer break).

I shall be offering lessons during the Summer break, on the Friday and Saturday morning (at least) of each week that I am here (dates to follow).

ANNUAL PUPILS’ SUMMER RECITAL

It is unlikely that this shall be held this year. However, I shall keep an eye on how things develop and will most certainly put something together at short notice should this be permissible and also that a good venue is available to us (I already have the Sanctuary in mind for this and have already spoken with them).

Our Summer Recital is such a great way to end our Summer term and so I shall be in touch in due course with further information should we be in a position to organise this.

Don’t forget to visit my website for ongoing news & information.

I very much look forward to seeing you soon. 

My best wishes to you for another excellent term, 

David

 

Spring Term 2020  

A very Happy New Year to you! 

I do hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas and that you are now rested & ready for the new term!  

Here’s some news & information for you, do please read this through and keep as a handy reference (particularly the various dates):

1. Lessons: will commence on Monday 6th January. (Spring Term will end on Wednesday 1st April – last day of lessons). There are also lessons this coming Friday 3rd January (these are Christmas/New Year holiday lessons and are now fully booked). Those attending should have received an email giving times of lessons.

2. ABRSM Winter Term Exam Results: have all come in and once again we have achieved excellent results! Most pupils achieved either a Distinction or Merit. All results are on display (on the Notice Board here at my home). Very well done to all pupils, I do know and appreciate how hard you work to achieve these results.

To keep future standards high (and to maintain that 100% pass objective) we do have to be fully prepared in all areas of the exam syllabus (particularly with regard to scales & arpeggios, sight reading & aural). This will ensure success and protect you from the most exact or strictest of examiners. 

2b. Music is a very special Artform & such a powerful means to express. It is also great fun! (particularly within the experience of Ensemble playing – which should be the goal of every musician, whatever the age or standard). Music is also Science (exploring Mathematical principles & logic). Therefore, to reach any standard of performance in music, there does have to be a commitment to Discipline and Application to feed and to enhance your natural gifting & musical ability.

Music is so good for the whole being – Mind, Body & Spirit. There is an ocean of stuff out their online to explore with regard to this theme and all of it positive J To get the most out of this beautiful gift it is best to immerse yourself! Listen, attend Concerts, watch (so much on BBC4, BBC2 and Sky Arts – as well as You Tube), be inspired and then find your place within this endless landscape.

Do aim to set a program, a clear Practice Schedule with set objectives for each session. This should be in the form of a visible planner or diary, so that you are reminded and encouraged to keep on progressing. I would encourage you to bring a small diary with you to lessons, write down key points and also RECORD your lesson so that you can listen back and use each of the objectives set and demonstrations given (by me) during the lesson and weave these into your private practice. If you record the lesson then you can share this too. You will love to listen back and hear how you have moved forward, week by week and month by month. So, bring something to record onto – most mobile phones have Voice Memos on them now.

3. ABRSM Spring Exams: will take place at the Norwich School Music Department during the penultimate week of the School’s Lent term (week of the 16th March). Please confirm at the beginning of term if you do wish to take your exam this Spring. The closing date for all exams is Friday 10th January.

I do need to stress that should know all of your scales & arpeggios and have a comprehensive understanding of the required Aural tests before you apply to take your exam. You will also need to have your pieces & study prepared to at least pass standard (at the beginning of term). This coming term should be for revising & refining as well as for looking closely at sight-reading skills. 

For Aural preparation I would highly recommend that you purchase the excellent study booklet (which comes with a CD) ‘Specimen Aural Tests’ (which is available from St George’s Music or online). I would also recommend downloading the ABRSM Aural Trainer App and also investigate other ABRSM Apps such as ones for Sight Reading and Practice Planning. You can find these in any App Store on most Phones.

Remember also that there is a very strict rule regarding actual copies of music used for the exam. Original published editions must be used (and not photocopies). For all information relating to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music & exam requirements please visit: www.abrsm.org

4. ABRSM Music Theory: essential for those wishing to go beyond Grade 5 Practical exams (and aim to reach up to Grade 8 standard of performance). Music Theory also helps in many ways to gain a greater understanding of music & will certainly assist those preparing for GCSE & A level Music exams. Please let me know if you would like to receive Music Theory lessons alongside your Practical Music lessons & we can look at how best to proceed. The next Music Theory exam will take place on Wednesday 4th March at 5pm (at the City of Norwich/CNS or Norwich School).

As an option to Music Theory you can also qualify to proceed to Grades 6-8 by taking and passing the Jazz Grade 5 practical exam. For some pupils this is a preferred option. As a bonus you get to learn the language of Jazz with it’s wonderful and diverse repertoire and also improvisation opportunities. I am equally at home and well versed in both Classical & Jazz traditions and so willing and very able to assist you.

5. Norfolk County Music Festival (Monday 2nd - Friday 13th March) – This annual Music Festival was established in 1925. Exact times and dates will be announced shortly and the Festival Programme will be available (from St George’s Music and hopefully online). This will give a full listing of all those performing at the Music Festival. To performers & those wishing to attend I would highly recommend that you do get full information & programmes right away.

If you are wishing to enter and to perform at this year’s Music Festival I would ask that you go online and complete your entry form and submit this as soon as possible please. For those who would like to consider performing in 2021 I would invite you to attend this year’s event so that you get more of an idea of the nature of the Festival and also the standard of performances. In my opinion this remains the most prestigious event of its kind within this region. There is a competitive edge to the performances and public adjudication is not to everybody’s liking, but I do believe that there are great advantages to a) playing in public & b) being open to comments made by our adjudicators (which should always be to assist & to encourage). 

There are allocated accompanists for the Music Festival (full details in the Programme) but I am prepared to accompany you if you prefer. Please discuss your intended repertoire (piece or pieces) with me as soon as possible.

Full details & contact information are available from the excellent NCMF Website - http://norfolkmusic.org.uk

6. Norfolk Young Musicians 2020: This annual competition (which is open to post Grade 8 pupils, age 25 and under) will take place at the John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich on Sunday 12th January (performances will be between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm with prizes and awards being presented by this year’s visiting adjudicator at the end of the day). You are very welcome to attend whichever session is suitable and entry is free (there is a retiring collection, to support this unique event). In past years a good number of my pupils have been awarded prizes, including three pupils winning the title of ‘Norfolk Young Musician’ (the most recent being Finlay McEwen, who is now a professional musician). 

Two of my pupils performed at last year’s competition – Jasmine Smith (Alto Saxophone) & Reuben Selby (Alto Saxophone). 

Reuben is now a very accomplished young musician, has been awarded a place at the National Youth Jazz Collective (www.nationalyouthjazz.co.uk) and is to commence full time study at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in September 2020  (http://www.bcu.ac.uk/conservatoire).

Jasmine was awarded 3rd place in the 2019 Norfolk Young Musician Competition, which is a true accomplishment as all performers who enter for NYMC are so very impressive each year. Jasmine, who was a valued member of NCYM and is now in her first year of study at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

So, do please come along, enjoy the music and support these competitors who have worked so hard to reach this standard of performance. If you would like more specific times for Reuben’s performance do please let me know and I shall get these to you. For more information do please visit: www.academyofstthomas.com (and follow the link to Trust) 

7. Music Ensembles

As you know I strongly advocate that every pupil might find a place within some kind of musical ensemble. To me this has to be one of the most rewarding experiences of being a musician, at whatever level of ability. There are so many options that await the music student of any instrument and thankfully we live in a County where this is recognized and (at present) is supported by local government (despite budgets being so severely cut) and through the dedication of those within the County Music Services (now called the Norfolk Music Hub, of which I am now an Associate Teacher).

I have posted a few of these ensemble opportunities on the notice board for you but do please have a look at this excellent new website and see if there is something that would interest you. There are ensembles for pupils at most levels of ability and so you could journey through these as your technical and reading skills progress. For many of you there are great opportunities for playing in a band or an orchestra within your school environment. This is not the situation for all however and so do please examine these options and speak with me so that we can discuss your personal objectives and preference. I will then do all that I can to assist you to discover the joy & fulfillment of making music with others within the right ensemble.

Norfolk Music Hub: http://www.norfolkmusichub.org.uk/site/ 

8. Annual Pupils’ Summer Recital was held for the first time at Soul Church (www.soulchurch.com) and was such a great success! We were treated to a wonderful variety of excellent performances from our soloists & various ensembles. The layout and design was set out as a ‘Jazz Café’ style and this was such a perfect environment in which to relax and to spend time together. So that more pupils, parents, friends & families might be able to plan ahead and join us next year I have decided to once again hold this event at the end of Summer term. This will avoid conflicts with end of term school events and concerts. Our summer recital is a rather lovely way to end our Summer term I feel. 

I am hoping that we shall return to the Soul Church (they would certainly like us to return) but am looking an another venue also (possibly King’s Community Church, Norwich –