After being in Chennai for 3 weeks, I’m having a better understanding about South India, the food, the culture, the people are amazing. Even though there are not too many places that you can visit and not many things are happening around here, but it has been awesome so far with musee musical and seeing India in such a different perspective.
My school is based on individual learning and it is always taught on a one to one basis. The level of students varies but the majority lies between initial grade and grade 5. In the school, it is very common for the teachers to be teaching 2 or 3 children in different rooms at the same time. This way, children often only get about 20 minutes lesson and around 40 minutes of practice. I find every day challenging as I can always go to different students at different time and check upon their progress and not one day is ever the same. Going to a room where the student is practising alone help both the teachers and students as I will listen, give opinions, evaluate, and share my practising methods in order for them to know how they can practise efficiently at home.
It has been very rewarding by sharing my musical knowledge and teaching experiences with the teachers too. Some of them are working towards ATCL and we have been discussing about my past experiences, sharing opinions and forming new ideas on advance piano playing. This not only helps the teachers to progress but it also allows the teachers to pass on this information to each other as well as to their students.
At the moment, I’m working on a duet piece, a Slavonic Dance by Dvorak with one of the teachers in here, and I shall upload the video in here soon. I’m trying to help them understanding the benefits of playing duet pieces and how they can impose this onto the lessons with the students. And I can see how this is helping the teachers and students to learn, so thank you Nadia for introducing this in the Induction session!
The Paul Harris workshop was held in our school. It was great in terms of the new idea that the teachers can be used during their lessons and advices that will help the students to work on their sight reading techniques.
Some students have just finished their piano particle exams during last week and I have been trying to reinforcing the importance of sight-reading to all of them, and start off with some simple pieces that they can be able to play. Telling them different techniques that they can apply into their practice such as understanding the sense of rhythm, try not to look at your hands whilst playing, try not to stop or repeat the same phrases again, etc.
However, there is often a cultural issue and parents would like to push their child for grades and playing pieces that are too hard for them. It’s frustrating sometimes that they only play pieces that are on the grading syllabus and nothing more, so I’m also trying to introduce pieces that both students and teachers have never heard of before such as Bach Inventions. Also, seeing the students with a grade 6 book in next lesson just after doing grade 5 last week is fairly common too!
For these coming weeks, I’m planning to work on a short booklet that will provide some additional suggestions onto their daily teaching by going through most of the common problems that I have seen students have in here, from pedalling to hand postures, etc. Apart from this, I’m also helping the school to prepare pieces and songs that the students and teachers will be performing on their annual day in September!