Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you're enjoying the Christmas holidays and enjoying playing some great music while you've got lots more free time.
Good news: Musical Mr Fox has again - for the third year in a row - been ranked in the Top Three Music Schools in Rotherham!
Click the logo above to find out more.
Well done, everyone! 10 students sat 10 exams and 10 exams were passed: 1 Pass; 3 at Merit and 6 at Distinction including Grade 5 theory (ABRSM)! Congratulations everyone and keep up the hard work! Online video lessons are still going strong.
Photo by Jason Leung
Over the summer holiday ROAR kindly gave up their office so that I may move my tuition closer to the gallery space, away from the drama theatre and into a larger room: thank you so much for this!
Once we had moved everything over from the old studio space (it's amazing how much stuff collects after three years in the same studio space), my wife and I set to organising and arranging furniture. We considered how the space would be used in a post-COVID environment and beyond. The new space affords plenty of room for social distancing measures to be in place.
Please have a look at the studio as it is so far - there's plenty more to do and a lot has changed since these photos were taken.
I look forward to being able to get in there and start face-to-face teaching again when it is safe to do so!
I hope everyone's been making the most of the summer break and taking the opportunity to get out and about before the schools and colleges return to a more usual timetable in September.
I have moved into the new studio and feel great about the space but there is more work to complete, such as more painting and general tidying. I'm looking forward to seeing you down there as soon as is safe to do so.
After much effort and consideration I've decided to further postpone the return to face-to-face tuition until at least October half term. This will allow us to monitor how schools and colleges cope with the rigorous cleaning and social distancing measures, while bringing us closer to the winter weather which may have an undesired effect on the transmission of COVID-19. I have completed a full health and safety risk assessment which includes COVID-19 procedures and research into how the WHO suspect the virus is transmitted. This will be useful when reopening the studio at a later date. I understand this news may be disappointing to some of you but everyone's safety is my upmost priority and limiting the ways infection can spread is our social responsibility.
Please keep in mind that if I were to open for face-to-face tuition it would mean cutting down the number of students I could work with each week: I currently work with almost 40 students every week and there would need to be a lot of sanitising before/after each student, totalling over an hour each day. Besides teaching I have several other professional responsibilities I must manage.
I look forward to online lessons recommencing from the 1st September but I'm also excited for getting back to face-to-face tuition and making full use the new studio space when it is safe and viable to do so.
And last but not least...congratulations!
Congratulations to everyone who submitted a video exam or sat a face-to-face exam! I'm pleased to report a continuing 100% pass rate so far, with a large number of high-merits achieved (74%-89%) and quite a number of distinctions (90% upwards)! Well done to everyone who gave their best and worked really hard to achieve those top marks.
Please stay safe and enjoy continuing to play great music!
The summer term
I'm sure you'll agree it's been a rather unusual summer term. That being said, I'm very impressed with everybody who has continued to engage with their music education throughout lockdown and thank you to all for your continued support. I would also like to offer a welcome to new students who have started to learn with me over the passing weeks. Learning to play a musical instrument is possibly one of the most challenging yet rewarding skills we can develop at any stage in our lives so please keep up the hard work, everybody.
Taking music education online
I've been teaching face-to-face for over 18 years and until now I had not considered video tuition to be viable. It's meant making some adjustments for both you and I but the results of our efforts are clear to see.
As we move forward and September approaches I will:
• be taking a break from teaching for a few weeks in August and resuming fully on 1st September (Tuesday). I’ll only be teaching between 10th-14th August and then breaking until September
• continue lessons and support from September for all students willing to continue video-based lessons
• be working on protocols over my August break to start up face-to-face tuition at the studio as soon as possible
The new studio
I have some exciting news: I'm moving my studio...down the hall! I've been working with ROAR for over a year to secure a new studio space of similar size. Our new space is currently the ROAR office (to the right when you come up the stairs) but they are kindly moving their operations. I hope we can be in by September and will consider reopening for those wanting face-to-face lessons, but maintaining video lessons will likely remain the safest approach for a while longer yet.
Although I'll miss the view over Rotherham towards Greasborough, the new space should be better suited. Some bonuses include:
• having the waiting area right outside the studio door will make lesson transitions easier and quicker for us all
• parents/guardians can better hear the lesson content and progression of the student. I'm hoping this will assist with practise routines and student development away from the studio
• moving away from the drama studio means there will be far fewer distractions from the drama class, dance school or other activities and as it's a larger space I can look into sound-proofing
• I might consider trialling a doorbell at the top of the stairs. I can't make any promises but I hope this could cut down on waiting time
Exams with Rockschool
Although face-to-face exams were completely suspended, Rockschool were the first UK exam board to offer video-based examinations in lieu.
I've been working as a Music Examiner with Rockschool (a dream job!) since December and I absolutely love this work and how it keeps me sharp and up to date with modern music education practices. Many of you have bravely taken the opportunity to submit a video exam and we currently await the results - good luck to all!
Although this brought up unique challenges, you've all done very well. Face-to-face examinations are now taking place in the UK and Ireland.
It's likely we will see many more changes as the Autumn term progresses. I'm keeping my ear to the ground for any news from the government, Rockschool as well as the local schools and colleges. Once again, I ask kindly for your patience and understanding as I learn and work to maintain a strong and positive music education practice in this evolving environment.
Tuition in August 10th-14th only (online lessons as normal)
Full time tuition recommences from September 1st
(online lessons as normal, face-to-face TBC)
Please get in touch with me via email throughout August as mobile reception will be unreliable. You may not get a reply right away as I’m taking a break from working, but I will get back to you.
Enjoy the summer break and make the most of the time to be safe outdoors as well practising your music!