I had my first music lesson for almost 20 years at the weekend, courtesy of the great folks at http://www.dailyfrail.com. Pat (A.K.A Dear Old Dad) met up with me via Skype for a slot we had arranged earlier in the week and we had a good chat, and worked through some tunes. Pat was very kind and helpful, offering me some really excellent nuggets of advice. He had very thoughtfully already checked out my playing on some of my YouTube clips and so was prepared with some ideas that would be useful for me.
Not having a lesson for 20 years is not entirely true… I guess as musicians we are constantly learning from those around us. Every gig or rehearsal is a lesson in some way or another and I guess part of graduating to becoming a musician is your formal learning transforms into continual informal learning through experience.
Spending the time with Pat at the weekend made me consider how we learn, and how we teach. Having taught music for many years now, both in the classroom and in private instrumental lessons, I have learnt how to overcome musical problems and how to impart this to others. I know how to work out exercises to overcome technical difficulties. Unless there is some technique I don’t actually understand, or physically am not capable of, then issues are simply a matter of time and determination to overcome. (Some things take more time and energy than others though…) For pupils who have been learning for some time lessons are much more about coaching and encouraging. The pupils know inside what they need to do, they just need somebody to push them to do it! Expression and performance is a matter of experience. Go and see performers play, and watch what they do, listen to recordings, analyse, transcribe and learn. You just need a willingness to self analyse, and determination to improve.
So what is the point of the teacher?
I am very glad I met with Pat. Having seen him many times in his videos it was so nice to chat and play alongside him in real time. It was wonderful that he could give me confidence in what I was currently doing, and what I needed to work at. I kind of knew these things, but I feel better about what I am doing having talked it through with another person. The lesson did help me and I have improved because of it.
So what next?
Well Pat has suggested we hook up for a ‘Skype jam’ at some point, which sounds great, not sure if i trust the laggy internet for this yet, but it would be a great thing to do, jamming with another guy thousands of miles away sounds like a great experience, so I may have to take him up on this!
Pat (and son Patrick) are offering all their knowledge for free through their Daily Frail videos, as well as currently setting up lessons via Skype to those that ask for it. (Please check out their website at http://www.dailyfrail.com ) I trying to work out how I can pass on my musical skills in a similar fashion. Being able to teach in order to share positive experience sounds like such a marvellous ideal, but how could I do so in my community? I need to work past my experience that my musical skills are a commodity that have to be sold, to a place where they are something I can share with others.
I haven’t got a plan yet… but I’m working on it…. Anybody need a music lesson in Sussex?