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Taking Grade 2: Finding a teacher

8 months ago

Barbara Eifler

Chief Executive at Making Music

Barbara Eifler’s next step is finding a teacher, and time is ticking by inexorably. It’s May, so if she wants to do Grade 2 in 2017, finding someone who can help her is now urgent. In her second blog post, Barbara describes what happened next.

PART 2

The organisation I lead, Making Music, provides links to resources for finding teachers from its website. Back in March, I typed my postcode into one of these search engines. I emailed one of the teachers who popped up near me and explained I was looking for a teacher to work with me about once a month. (This is about as much time as I can carve out, and such spacing also allows for my, ahem, infrequent practising to actually lead to some progress before the next session.)

The teacher replied saying it was weekly lessons or nothing; I couldn’t possibly achieve anything by meeting just once a month. I could've emailed others and I’m sure would've found someone prepared to teach me at the frequency I wanted, but that email was quite demotivating and once again Grade 2 retired to the back burner.

The months are passing

I ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations of teachers, I mention my quest to people at work and in my networks. Names and contact details are passed on.

But somehow I don’t get round to emailing them. One sounds too high-powered, another too busy, and a third only vaguely connected to the person giving me their name. None of these are good excuses, you understand, but for whatever reason, they just don’t feel quite right.

Or am I just prevaricating?

Things are looking up

I’ve nearly forgotten my Grade 2 plans when Felicity Hayward walks into Making Music’s office as one of the project managers for Make Music Day UK. (This international event on 21 June each year was brought to the UK on a large scale for the first time in 2017 by Making Music and Music For All, alongside supporting organisations including ABRSM, who partnered in an amazing flash mob in London’s Paternoster Square!)

What else, I ask Felicity, do you do in terms of work? ‘I teach singing’ is the answer. This is clearly the sign I’d been waiting for. There's no doubt in my mind immediately that I should ask her if she'll give me the occasional lesson. She readily agrees.

What to do first?

Felicity finds out quickly that she has to start with the basics with me: breathing, warm-ups, general exercises. After session one, I know I’m in good hands and I have a clear idea how to get going.

We also talk about which songs to choose after I've finally listened to all the pieces. List A is easy and we agree quickly. List B still leaves me undecided but Felicity puts forward three options and her reasons for me to consider them. List C has almost too many songs I like, but we whittle them down to two potential candidates.

As I’m German, the traditional unaccompanied song for me always has to be a German folk song, so I'll bring some to the next session for Felicity to hear.

What next?

Now the real work starts – so far, it’s all been preparation! By session two, all songs are chosen and I have no more excuses: I can do some practising. 

Uh-oh, that’s the next challenge…

In Barbara’s next post: the highs and lows of practising.

Interested in taking a Singing exam? Find out what’s involved.
Making Music is a UK charity that provides advice, support and resources for leisure-time musical and music groups.
Make Music Day is a global celebration of music taking place every year on 21 June.
Music For All promotes the life-changing benefits of making music.

 

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