Stepping Tones – New Classes and Free Trial Sept 14th

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Hi everyone
Hope you’ve all been enjoying the glorious summer weather! Here’s a little update on a project I’ve been working on for a while…

Some of you may know I’ve been very busy lately setting up my new company Stepping Tones. It really has taken a lot of hard work to get things this far. I trained for 3 years between London, Manchester and Canterbury, devised a company name, the logo, tagline, posters, website and found and booked a venue: now I am thrilled to announce some brand new classes, starting in September!

 


PRACTICAL MUSICIANSHIP

Music and movement (Dalcroze Eurhythmics) for primary-aged children. Most of you will be familiar with some of the movement exercises I include in piano lessons. These classes will be along a similar vein, with more space to move, more children to collaborate with, more singing, more games, more learning!
Saturdays at Derby Moor School.

9:30 – 10:15am – Ages 5-8 (£7),
10:30am – 11:30am – Ages 9 -12 (£9)

FREE TRIAL Saturday 14th September. To sign up, click here.

 

 

 

Relaxed written work classes for people who play or are learning a musical instrument. Learn to read and write music to improve your playing and to pass theory ABRSM exams if you need to!
Mondays at 12, The Hollow.
Provisional timetable – 4:30pm – Ages 7-11,     5:30pm – Ages 12 – 17,     7pm – Adult beginners (self taught musicians VERY welcome)
£9 per hour, per person, paid monthly in advance. Class times will be confirmed once I have enough people to run the class.


SONGWRITING AND COMPOSITION

Suitable for those who write music, or would like to start. I can help adults in bands, children who need to compose for GCSE, or for other exams, or anybody who plays any instrument, and would like to understand how to put together a piece of music.

 

 

 

 

 


My website www.steppingtones.co.uk contains details of all the class I’ll be running and Facebook users can like my page. Please share this email with other adult-musicians, pupils or parents who might be interested!

Finally, I’m looking for a few testimonials for my website. If you would like to send a short comment about the work I do, it would really help me out.

Thanks everyone!

Alex


Musicianship Classes at Déda and St Clare’s

I’m very pleased to say that I am in the process of planning some sessions based on my *training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. The first will be a trial at Déda – I’ll be working with a group of teenage dancers to guide them through new listening experiences. Among other things, I’ll help them use their bodies to respond to dynamics, to consider different layers in the music and to use new stimuli for improvisation and choreography.

The second batch of sessions I’ll be teaching are a series of workshops for teenagers at St Clare’s special school. Here, the work will help develop memory skills, concentration, team work, whilst enabling them to develop their own ideas and to be expressive in singing and movement.

*N.B.  I’ve completed the practical components of my Dalcroze Eurhythmics certificate training, but not handed in the written work or teaching practise video. Hopefully, these sessions will give me more opportunity to hone my skills, ready for assessment later this year, at which time, I can officially call myself a ‘Dalcroze Practitioner’. THIS is the holy grail for me!


Spring Into Song Concert 19th May 2013

Hi everyone,

Here’s the information for my next concert! Woohoo! Click on the picture to be directed to the Facebook event.

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Click to go to the Facebook Event Page

Current students can buy tickets when they come to lesson. Otherwise, you can pay for your tickets on paypal. Prices here are a few pence higher to cover Paypal’s admin charge.

Paypal - Buy Adult Ticket

 

Paypal - Buy child ticket

 

 

 

See you at The Voicebox!


Aims of a Dalcroze Teacher

 

Many people seem to be curious about my Dalcroze Eurhythmics work. I enrolled on the Dalcroze Society’s certificate course in Sept 2010, have completed my practical exams and have just to finish my coursework and teaching practise, before I can call myself a ‘Dalcroze Practitioner’. Already, the training is informing the piano lessons I teach, and forms a major component of the musicianship and practical theory classes I teach at Derby Music Centre. I’ve also taught Dalcroze sessions at Birmingham Conservatoire, The Voicebox and at St. Clare’s Special School in Derby.

THE PROBLEM: it’s so difficult to define in words. So, those who haven’t seen it just can’t quite fathom what is it I do!

Is it a dance class?   No! Movement to music is the largest aspect of Dalcroze, but it is not dance.

Is it some kind of hippy, interpretative dance thing? No. It’s actually quite technical as well as creative, and focuses on very specific aims.

Is it just a load of fun? Yes – it’s fun. But it’s not ‘just’ that! It’s actually meant to educate people and has been taught at the Royal Ballet school and at Music Conservatoires around the world, to ‘professional’ musicians, teachers, adult amateurs as well as to children and pre-school ages.

What are the aims of a Dalcroze teacher?

-Giving notes their full rhythm and life

- Being able to develop a sense of flow/ line (rather than thinking only vertically).

- The ability to sustain a continuous steady beat.

- Good tone quality. Sense of spring and rebound, release, weight.

- Dynamics. Using muscles to create energy or to restrain energy (eg. loud and quiet)

- Being able to respond quickly through looking, listening or feeling

- Being sensitised to working with other people

- Posture, good alignment, balance, body awareness. To feel secure. Alleviation of parasitic tension.

- To have a sense in our heads of what we’d like our performance or composition to sound/ feel like. 

Aims of Dal Teach


Frost on the Flower

Woah – 20cm of snow forecast tomorrow! I thought it might be apt to upload this Wintery song I had lying around. It’s a poem I set to music as part of my (as yet unfinished) Dalcroze coursework. I wrote it for 3 voices and piano.

The lyrics are a poem by Charles Causley:

Frost on the Flower

 


Hummingbird

I wrote a new song recently and recorded a demo at home. Hope you like it – please share if you do!

I have seen the sky turn green

It’s so envious of the ground

Because on the ground he treads – left right left

And his footsteps down the corridor resound

 

Find a penny pick it up

We need a bit of luck

And now we’re dancing

Take my hand so much to say

Every word seems to find a way

 

To unpick our tapestry

To loosen your grip on me

And so thread by thread and word by word

What’s left of this hummingbird?

 

I have heard a hummingbird

Break a vow of silence to call his name

And although he heard he never said  a word

That’s his way – an elaborate game

 

Find a penny pick it up

We need a bit of luck

And now we’re dancing

Take my hand so much to say

Every word seems to find a way

 

To unpick our tapestry

To loosen your grip on me

And so thread by thread and word by word

What’s left of this hummingbird?

 

I have seen the sky turn green

It’s so envious of the ground


More Positive Feedback from Derby Music Centre

I had a lovely email this week from the parent of an 11 year old boy I teach. It’s so wonderful to know that people enjoy my work!

‘My son, ___ has theory classes with you at Derby Music Centre on Saturday mornings.  He thoroughly enjoys these sessions, and comes home full of excitement… He was amazed about how much he had learned in a short space of time, and he commented on how much he enjoyed the way you teach also.’

Maybe we should all take more time to express our appreciation when others make us happy. It’s so lovely to receive praise!


Musicianship and Theory Classes at Derby Music Centre

Saturday’s Musicianship and Theory classes at Derby Music Centre are going well. Some feedback:

“My daughter …. is really enjoying the classes and likes the fact that there is a practical element to it rather than just being out of a book. She also likes the all round musicianship and the fact that aural is brought into the classes too.”

From January, this is my provisional timetable for Saturday mornings:

8:30 -9:15 Grade 6 to 8 Aural

Using elements of Dalcroze and Kodály (solfa) and instrumental improvisation to help students work towards the listening components of their instrumental and vocal exams (Trinity and ABRSM covered).

10 – 10:45 Level 1 Theory and Musicianship


Using elements of Dalcroze, instrumental improvisation and Kodály (solfa) to help students work through ABRSM Grade 1-2 theory, whilst also building practical skills in recognising how these written elements sound.

10:45 – 11:30 Level 2 Theory and Musicianship

Using elements of Dalcroze, instrumental improvisation and Kodály (solfa) to help students work through ABRSM Grade 2-3 theory, whilst also building practical skills in recognising how these written elements sound.

12:15 – 1 Intermediate Theory and Musicianship (further details to be confirmed)

Using elements of Dalcroze, instrumental improvisation and Kodály (solfa) to help students work through ABRSM theory, whilst also building practical skills in recognising how these written elements sound.


The Final Fortnight!

Just under two weeks til my Solfa exam! Today I’m working steadily through a few tasks: I’ve now received a ‘pack of stuff’ which I have a fortnight to prepare for the exam. On Saturday I created the skeleton of a song based on a poem from a selection I was sent. First I sang the words and found a good rhythm to match the poem, then I found which chords to play. Next, I’ll write down the whole thing, including a proper piano part (rather than just chords).

Today, I’m practising conducting a song for three voices (or groups of voices). For my exam, I’ll have to conduct a group of people singing this. I figured my first job is to learn the piece, so I’ve multi-tracked myself singing each of the three parts so I can hear them all together. Now, my job is to listen back, pretending my choir is in front of me and work out which parts come in and where. I’m working on the conducting first because this is the thing I have least experience in and am a teeny bit worried about.

If I have time before work today, I’ll start work on the ‘sing and play': I’ve chosen 1 from the 3 pieces sent and have to play a piano part whilst singing and independent line over the top. That shouldn’t be too tricky really – I’m quite used to singing and playing at the same time. But, I would imagine that they are some deliberately tricky bits in there, given that it’s an exam!

The last thing I’ll be working on today are my ten folk songs, two verses of each to be learnt from memory. I’ve learnt eight of them but just need to keep going over the lyrics to make sure they’re embedded. I tend to do this work in the car whilst driving – the car is a great place to sing!

When the exam is over, I’ll upload some of the songs I’ve been working on but I imagine it’d be a breach of exam conditions to do so now!


The Solfa Cram Session Starts (know your veg)!

I’m coming to the end of my Dalcroze certificate course. I’ve attended 14 of 16 weekends in London since September 2010 and now my exams are looming. First up, Aural Examination on Sunday 1st April in Manchester.

The Aural Examination is largely based on sol-fa, which is a method where we sing songs and technical exercises using the syllables ‘doh re mi fa soh la ti’. (We jokingly call these syllables ‘vegetables‘, after a joke told by a teacher a very long time ago.) By doing this, we develop our skills and knowledge about pitch, intervals, scales, harmony and tonality so we learn to recognise all sorts of musical details by ear. For example, those trained in solfa can listen to a chord sequence or a tune and know exactly what it is – they can sing it back perfectly and play it back perfectly. It teaches people to fine-tune – so they are better able to play non-fretted string instruments, or to tune their guitars for example. Not only that, but they can improvise their own melodies, and deliberately shift key, change metre etc. It’s basically a tool to learn how to listen better and more actively.

Today I’m starting a daily practise schedule for singing. Here’s what I’m doing:

- Vocal warm up

- Scales, arpeggios and melodic sequences in solfa  eg ‘doh mi soh mi doh, re fa lah fa re’, etc just to make sure I’m practising my ‘vegetables’

- Continuing a tune from a given opening, changing key and then returning to the original key – this is all done spontaneously, by ear. I get marked on making up a good tune, being able to modulate and being able to return to my original key.

- Improvising a melody to a given rhythm: I get given a written down rhythm and I have to sing a tune to it, using solfa. I get marks for creating a good melody and for correct use of solfa names.

- Sight-singing in solfa.

- I also have to learn 2 verses each of 10 folk songs from memory.

The exam itself contains lots of other bits and bobs but the above list is what I’m going to try to do daily from now on. Generally it’s all quite fun to do, although the sight-reading kills me because I don’t really have much of a working memory! The hardest bit for me is motivating myself to do it every day. So, that’s why I’ve decided to blog about it – it motivates me to think others are following in what I’m doing!


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