Piano, Keyboard and Theory Tuition

Individual tuition from beginners to advanced – all ages

Practical, Theory and SQA examination preparation

All recognised grade and diploma examinations

Develop a greater understanding of music

Classical, Jazz and Popular styles

 

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Adrian Finnerty

BA(Hons), MMus, MA Ed, MSc, DipTMus, DipABRSM, ALCM, FISM

Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians

Member of the European Piano Teachers’ Association

and the Guild of Church Musicians

Member of the PVG Scheme

 

For further information contact: tuition@adrianfinnerty.co.uk

 

“Every day that we spend without learning something is a day lost.”

Beethoven

 

Click on the following links to find out more about:

 

·         Adrian Finnerty’s teaching experience and qualifications

·         Advice about looking for a piano teacher

·         Hints on practising

·         Why study other aspects of music?

·         Adrian Finnerty’s personal profile

·         Links to other websites

 

                        Click here to return to the top of the page.

 

Adrian Piano 3

 

 

Experience and Qualifications

 

Adrian Finnerty’s teaching experience has included teaching children and adults from beginners to advanced levels.  Areas of work covered have included performance (Classical and Popular styles, including Jazz improvisation, practical musicianship and accompanying), musical theory, compositional techniques, and all aspects of written coursework.  Examination presentation experience has included the full range of graded practical, theory and SQA examinations, and diplomas, with many students gaining distinctions and a number going on to study music at university or college.  He is Principal Assessor for Higher Music with the Scottish Qualifications Authority and has also been responsible for co-ordinating and delivering a variety of staff development activities, workshops and in-service courses for teachers, as well as giving lectures and presentations on a variety of music and education related topics.

 

Performing experience has included the following:

 

Solo pianist; with experience of playing Jazz and other styles of Popular music, as well as Classical.

Accompanist; accompanying instrumentalists, singers and choirs in concerts, recitals, festivals and examinations.

Organist; playing music for weddings and other special occasions, as well as regular Sunday services.

Conductor / Musical Director; with experience of conducting school orchestras, bands, Jazz bands, and a variety of amateur operatic, orchestral and choral groups.

 

Qualifications include:

 

BA(Hons):            Bachelor of Arts with Honours

MMus:                   Master of Music

MA Ed:                  Master of Arts in Education

MSc:                      Master of Science in Practitioner Research

DipTMus:             Diploma in the Teaching of Music

DipABRSM:          Diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in piano teaching

ALCM:                   Associate Diploma of the London College of Music in piano performing

FISM:                    Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians

 

Memberships include:

 

Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM)

European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA)

Guild of Church Musicians (GCM)

Protecting Vulnerable Group Scheme (PVG)

 

Click on the following links to find out more about:

 

·         Adrian Finnerty’s teaching experience and qualifications

·         Advice about looking for a piano teacher

·         Hints on practising

·         Why study other aspects of music?

·         Adrian Finnerty’s personal profile

·         Links to other websites

 

                        Click here to return to the top of the page.

 

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Looking for a Piano Teacher

 

Choosing a piano teacher is an extremely important decision.  A good teacher is someone who will motivate and inspire their students, displaying both knowledge and enthusiasm for music, and encourage their students to realise their full potential.  An effective teacher can also do so much to stimulate a young person’s lasting interest in music.  Private music teaching is not currently regulated in the UK.  It is possible, therefore, for anyone to set up as a music teacher, even if they have no experience or qualifications.  This guide provides some questions that might be considered when looking for a suitable teacher.

 

What qualifications does the teacher have?

Any professional teacher should possess some kind of recognised degree or diploma related to their specialised area.  A professional piano teacher, therefore, should possess some kind of recognised qualification in which piano playing or teaching features as a major component.  Passing a graded music exam, even at Grade 8, does not qualify someone to teach.  Music teachers who take an active interest in their own continuing professional development may also have additional qualifications or experience related to music or education.

 

Has the teacher been recommended?

Many people find a piano teacher by word of mouth.  If a teacher has been recommended, and has a good reputation, this is probably a reasonable indicator that the teacher is of a high standard.

 

Does the teacher have a professional manner and outlook?

A good teacher should be well-organised, knowledgeable about music and wider educational issues, and have good communications skills.  A well-organised teacher should also keep detailed records of students’ progress as well as providing encouragement and helpful feedback on how to improve.

 

What teaching experience does the teacher have?

A professional teacher will have experience of teaching beginners of different ages, including adults, and preparing students for examinations and performances at all levels.  Most qualified teachers will teach up to Grade 8 or diploma level.

 

What performing experience does the teacher have?

A good music teacher does not necessarily have to be a concert performer.  However, music is very much a performing art and any accomplished musician should have experience of performing in public, as a soloist, accompanist or ensemble player.

 

Does the teacher cater for a variety of styles and interests?

Every student is an individual: from the absolute beginner to the leisure pianist, to the aspiring professional musician.  A good teacher should take account of the needs and aspirations of all students.  This might include teaching Popular and Jazz styles as well as Classical, and also providing individual programmes of work in areas such as musical theory, composing, practical musicianship or improvisational skills.

 

Does the teacher provide performing opportunities?

Some students want to play a musical instrument purely for their own personal enjoyment.  Others, however, may respond well to the challenges of preparing for examinations, concerts or recitals.  A good teacher should provide opportunities and set appropriate challenges for all students, encouraging them to realise their full potential.

 

Does the teacher have experience of the school music curriculum?

More and more children are following music courses in schools.  Teachers in private practice, therefore, should have an awareness of the requirements of the school music curriculum, particularly with regard to the demands of certificated courses.

 

Is the teacher aware of the requirements of higher education?

Students who reach advanced levels in their musical studies may wish to pursue further courses of study in music at a university or college, and may even wish to enter the music profession.  A good teacher should be aware of the course content and entrance requirements of various institutions, and should be able to provide students with advice on preparing for auditions, interviews and entrance examinations.

 

Is the teacher a member of any professional organisations?

Membership of organisations such as the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) or the European Piano Teachers’ Association (EPTA) is generally an indication that the teacher adopts a responsible approach to their work and takes an interest in their own continuing professional development.

 

Is the teacher a member of the PVG Scheme?

Membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme is a way of confirming that those who have contact with children and protected adults, through paid or unpaid work, do not have a known history of harmful behaviour.

 

Click on the following links to find out more about:

 

 

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Practising

 

“Amateurs practise until they get it right: professionals practise until they can’t go wrong.”

 

In order to make any real progress in playing a musical instrument it is important that you try to develop a routine of practising in a systematic way.  Regular and thoughtful practice is important to developing musical skills.  Even practising for 20 minutes a day will be much more beneficial than practising for 2 hours once a week.

 

Here are some hints as to how you can make the most effective use of your practice time:

 

·         Make sure that your posture is good – that you are sitting up straight and that your hand position is correct on the piano keyboard.

·         Practise with separate hands to begin with.

·         Practise short sections at a time.

·         Make sure that you are using the correct fingering, and try to keep your fingering consistent.

·         Always listen to your playing, keeping the following in mind:

·         Keep the tempo consistent throughout.

·         Keep the rhythm and the phrasing even.

·         Take care to observe any dynamic or expression markings.

·         Be careful not to bump out notes in the middle of phrases.

 

Beginners may be encouraged to practise for about 15 – 20 minutes most days.  Pupils working at elementary to intermediate levels should be aiming at about 20 – 30 minutes per day.  Pupils working at intermediate to advanced levels should be aiming at about 30 – 45 minutes per day.  Advanced players should be aiming to spend about an hour a day, or more, practising.

 

In order to make full use of your practice time you should divide your time into small sections, covering the different aspects of playing.

 

The following table provides a suggested routine for practising, based on 30 minutes per day:

 

Musical Aspect

Minutes

Finger exercises / Scales / Arpeggios / Broken Chords:

As well as helping to develop technique, finger exercises, scales, arpeggios and broken chords provide a useful ‘warm up’ for the fingers.

 

5

Sight-reading:

Try to sight-read a new piece every day.  Select something that is challenging but also within your ability to play.  Play through the piece once or twice only, paying close attention to dynamics, expression, and the mood and style of the piece as well as the accuracy of the notes and rhythm.

 

3

Pieces:

You will probably be dividing your time between two or three pieces from different styles or periods.  Try to divide your time equally between the pieces.  If you are working on three pieces spend approximately 6 - 7 minutes on each and if you are working on two pieces then spend about 10 minutes on each.  Always start with the piece that needs most work.

 

20

Aural work:

Look at the pieces you are actually practising, or sight-reading.  Try to sing part of a phrase, clap the rhythm of a phrase and identify some of the musical features present.

 

2

TOTAL

30

 

If, for example, you only have 20 minutes available on a particular day you could divide up your practice time as follows:

 

Musical Aspect

Minutes

Finger exercises / Scales / Arpeggios / Broken Chords

4

Sight reading

2

Pieces

12

Aural work

2

TOTAL

20

 

Players who are able to practise for longer periods of time can build a practice routine to suit their own needs.

 

Further advice about practising, as well as other music teaching issues, can be found in publications such as:

 

The Music Teacher’s Companion by Paul Harris and Richard Crozier (London, ABRSM, 2000)

The Music Teacher’s Handbook with a foreword by Mark Stringer (Faber Music in association with Trinity Guildhall, 2005)

Improve your practice! (various grades) by Paul Harris (London, Faber Music, 2004)

Improve Your Piano Playing! by John Meffen (Right Way, 2006)

The Art of Practising The Piano by Jeffrey Whitton (London, Stainer & Bell, 1993)

Teaching Notes on Piano Exam Pieces (London, ABRSM, 2008)

These Music Exams by Clara Taylor (London, ABRSM, 1982 and 1989)

 

Other publications that might be of interest include:

 

Improve Your Sight-reading! (various grades) by Paul Harris (London, Faber Music, 1994)

Improve Your Teaching! by Paul Harris (London, Faber Music, 2006)

The Art Of Teaching Piano by Denes Agay (New York, Yorktown, 1981 and 2004)

The Art Of Effective Piano Teaching by Dino P. Ascari (1st Books, 2003)

How To Teach Piano Successfully by James W. Bastien (Illinois, Kjos, 1973 and 1977)

Principles of Teaching by Enid Langley (Elkin)

Common Sense In Music Teaching by William Lovelock (London, G. Bell & Sons, 1965)

Aural Training In Practice by Ronald Smith (London, ABRSM, 1994)

A Parent’s Guide To Piano Lessons by James W. Bastien (California, Kjos, 1976)

Principles of Piano Technique and Interpretation by Kendall Taylor (London, Novello, 1981)

 

Some magazines and journals that might also be of interest include:

 

Pianist (Warners Group Publications) www.pianistmagazine.com

Piano (Rhinegold Publishing) www.rhinegold.co.uk

Piano Professional (EPTA UK) www.epta-uk.org

Music Teacher (Rhinegold Publishing) www.rhinegold.co.uk

British Journal of Music Education (Cambridge) www.journals.cambridge.org/bme

 

Click on the following links to find out more about:

 

·         Adrian Finnerty’s teaching experience and qualifications

·         Advice about looking for a piano teacher

·         Hints on practising

·         Why study other aspects of music?

·         Adrian Finnerty’s personal profile

·         Links to other websites

 

                        Click here to return to the top of the page.

 

Adrian Piano 3

 

 

Why study other aspects of music?

 

As well as practising pieces there are several other aspects of music that contribute towards the development of musical skills and insights.  These include practising scales, arpeggios, broken chords and technical exercises, as well as sight-reading, aural work, theory and improvisation.  Here are some common questions that are often asked, along with some suggested answers:

 

Why practise scales, arpeggios, broken chords and technical exercises?

Scales, arpeggios and broken chords are the building blocks of music making, and are a fundamental means of developing all aspects of technique and control.  This includes areas such as hand position, posture, co-ordination and balance, as well as developing a strong sense of key and pattern.  Important benefits include improved sight-reading, quicker learning of new pieces, increased aural awareness and greater familiarity with the geography of the piano.  So much music is actually based on scale and arpeggio patterns.  Technical exercises can also help to develop specific areas of weakness.

 

Why practise sight-reading?

The ability to sight-read fluently is arguably one of the most important skills that any musician can cultivate.  The obvious benefits of fluent sight-reading include:

 

·         The ability to learn new pieces quickly.

·         Increased confidence in learning and playing music.

·         Greater enjoyment from learning pieces more quickly.

·         Achieving higher standards in the sight-reading element of examinations.

 

While some musicians will sight-read quite fluently there are others who do find it more difficult.  It is important, therefore, to adopt a systematic approach to the development of sight-reading skills in order to gain confidence in sight-reading.  The choice of music used for practising sight-reading is also very important.  The ideal sight-reading piece should really be:

 

·         Musically attractive, so that it provides the player with something that is both interesting and enjoyable to play.

·         Challenging, in order to stretch the player and make them think about what they are playing.

·         Manageable, providing the player with a task that is achievable and will help to develop their confidence.

 

When practising sight-reading:

 

 

Why practise aural work?

Aural work is about developing the ability to listen carefully and perceptively to your own playing, and the playing of others.

 

The obvious ways in which highly developed aural ability is of benefit to a musician include:

 

·         Playing more evenly, sensitively and musically.

·         Memorizing music more easily.

·         Sight-reading music more fluently and accurately.

·         Gaining greater understanding and enjoyment from listening to, and playing, music.

·         Achieving higher standards in the aural elements of examinations.

 

Why study music theory?

A knowledge of music theory is essential to fully understanding music.  Some knowledge of musical theory is required to play even the simplest of pieces.  You will not be able to play a piece of music correctly unless you have the basic knowledge enabling you to understand:

 

·         How many beats are in every bar.

·         What notes to play.

·         How long to hold the notes on.

·         Whether or not there are any flats, sharps or other accidentals.

·         Details of tempo, character or expression in the piece.

 

With a greater knowledge of music theory, the performer is able to gain deeper musical insights, and a better understanding of:

 

·         The structure of a piece of music.

·         Characteristics of different musical styles and genres.

·         How to perform a piece of music with a greater sense of style.

·         How to fully interpret and communicate the composers’ intentions.

 

Why study music history?

Composers have often written music in response to personal circumstances or specific events.  A knowledge of music history provides performers with an understanding of the circumstances surrounding musical compositions.  This can be very valuable in terms of informing our performance practice, especially when performing music from different styles or periods.

 

A knowledge of music history helps to develop a greater understanding, and appreciation, of:

 

·         The circumstances in which pieces of music were composed.

·         How to fully communicate the sense and meaning of a piece of music.

·         How to interpret music from different musical periods or genres.

·         Stylistic aspects of music from different musical periods or genres.

·         The social and cultural influences on music.

 

Why work on improvisation?

Improvisation is a skill that allows players to develop their own creative potential.  It encourages musicians to develop:

 

·         Aural, technical and musicianship skills.

·         Self-expression and imagination.

·         Increased general musical awareness.

·         A greater understanding of creativity and compositional skills in music.

·         Confidence in musical performance.

 

An accomplished performing musician will have developed important practical skills through practising scales, arpeggios, broken chords and technical exercises.  However, the development of sight-reading and aural abilities, along with a good knowledge of musical theory and confidence in improvisation, contributes towards a well-rounded and insightful musician.

 

Click on the following links to find out more about:

 

·         Adrian Finnerty’s teaching experience and qualifications

·         Advice about looking for a piano teacher

·         Hints on practising

·         Why study other aspects of music?

·         Adrian Finnerty’s personal profile

·         Links to other websites

 

                        Click here to return to the top of the page.

 

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Links to other websites

 

Clicking on the links below will take you to other websites that might be of interest:

 

eptalogosmallinverted2    ISM logo      same_logo3

 

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Music teachers

 

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The International Piano Teachers Group

 
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musiclessonsonline

 

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SMC

 

Click on the following links to find out more about:

 

·         Adrian Finnerty’s teaching experience and qualifications

·         Advice about looking for a piano teacher

·         Hints on practising

·         Why study other aspects of music?

·         Adrian Finnerty’s personal profile

·         Links to other websites

 

                        Click here to return to the top of the page.

 

Adrian Piano 3

 

 

 

Adrian Finnerty

BA(Hons), MMus, MA Ed, MSc, DipTMus, DipABRSM, ALCM, FISM

Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians

Member of the European Piano Teachers’ Association

and the Guild of Church Musicians

Member of the PVG Scheme

 

For further information contact: tuition@adrianfinnerty.co.uk

 

To find out more about Adrian Finnerty just click on Personal Profile