Information About Cress - Cheltenham teacher
This is how 2 referees rated Cress:
So you live in Cheltenham and want piano lessons? Great!
Maybe you’re an adult beginner, or you’ve been playing for years but want to try something new. Perhaps you gave up as a child and would like to start again. Or maybe you’re a teenager or child who wants to play….
Whether you’re 8 years old or 80 years young-at-heart, I can help!
Am I the right teacher for you?
YES if you’d like to be able to sight-read AND play by ear.
YES if you’d like to build a repertoire of your favourite pop, jazz, blues, or classical tunes that you can play anywhere, with or without the music in front of you.
YES if you’d love to be able to improvise or make up your own tunes but think it’s impossibly hard. (It isn’t!)
YES if you’d like to take exams, but want to take ones that will develop you as a musician and not just teach you to read notes on a page.
YES if you dislike taking exams, but still want to feel a sense of progress and accomplishment.
I began playing the piano when I was ten (a LONG time ago!). My piano teacher was a wonderfully kind old man named (appropriately enough) Mr Sharp. He often said I was a ‘great little sight-reader’. And indeed I was because…. it was the ONLY THING I COULD DO! Without the music in front of me I couldn’t remember a thing.
I loved playing the piano, but as I grew up I secretly longed to be ‘one of those people’ who could play without the music in front of them. Whether they were remembering written music, doodling around on a favourite tune, or inventing ones of their own. I knew people who could do it, but unfortunately they were the self-taught types who couldn’t really explain what they were doing. A bit like the centipede at the Ugly Bug Ball – they couldn’t teach anyone else their moves!
So for years I was left thinking that improvising and playing by ear were for the gifted few.
HOW WRONG I WAS!
In my thirties and in the spirit of ‘now or never’ after the death of my parents, I was determined to try again. I discovered the Jazz & Blues exams thanks to another lovely teacher named Bob Holland. I learnt to do all the things I’d dreamt about. I learnt to sit down and PLAY, to pick out a tune by ear, improvise over chord changes, play with other people, accompany them singing, make up my own stuff and have FUN. After so many years of simply sight-reading, it was as if I’d taken off a straight-jacket.
I began teaching the piano eight years ago after studying for the ABRSM Jazz & Blues exams. After learning to do what I’d believed couldn’t be taught, I was inspired to pass that knowledge onto others. I’ve been spreading the word ever since!
My teaching method has two main focuses:
1. To teach the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal School of Music) Jazz & Blues Grades 1-5, and the LCM (London College of Music) Jazz & Blues Grades 6-8. This includes all scales, aurals and sight-reading components.
2. To enable students to build up a repertoire of music they love.
More details below:
1. Exam Material
You don’t have to be a Jazz fiend to get enjoyment from the Jazz & Blues grades. There are many melodic and beautiful tunes to choose from. Fly Me To The Moon, Inchworm, Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby… to name a few!
Mastering the Jazz & Blues exam material will give you targets and a sense of accomplishment whether or not you choose to sit an exam.
I have decided to teach the Jazz & Blues grades rather than the Classical grades for one important reason: the Classical grades teach you to sight-read, but the Jazz & Blues grades teach you to sight-read AND play by ear. If you follow the Jazz exams you will learn to sight-read well enough to play classical music. If you restrict yourself to the Classical exams you will never know the freedom that comes from playing by ear.
Note to parents: The Jazz & Blues exams have equal weighting to the Classical exams with regards to UCAS points. Also, if you follow the Jazz & Blues syllabus you’re not required to take Grade 5 Theory in order to progress to Grades 6 – 8. They are especially suited to musical children or teenagers who feel restricted by solely sight-reading and would enjoy making their own music. I have a 100% student pass rate in the Jazz & Blues exams.
2. Your Repertoire
Right from the start I will encourage you to build up a body of music that you can play confidently without the music in front of you. Wherever you go, and wherever there is a piano, you will always be able to play and never have to say, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve left my music at home!’
You choose the music that goes on your repertoire. It can be tunes you’ve always wanted to play, or ones I’ve introduced you to that you particularly enjoy. Or maybe ones that you’ve composed yourself! I give you regular opportunities to learn new pieces for your repertoire as well as the time to keep up with the ones you’ve already learnt.
I make this an important part of the learning process because I feel that too often piano students spend a long time learning a piece of music only to forget it when they move on to the next piece. Besides, if you haven’t got a body of music that you can sit down and play for your own pleasure, then frankly, what’s the point?!
In a nutshell, learning an instrument involves both practice and pleasure. The exam material provides the practice, the repertoire provides the pleasure!
Tutor Resources: (free to download)
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Availability: Weekdays (all times)
References Available: Yes (✔ On File)
- Royal School of Music (2005) - ABRSM Jazz & Blues Grades (Other) (✘ Not On File)