Welcome to the pupil section of the Ealing Music Service website. This part of the website is filled with useful information to help you become an excellent musician.
Here are some sites with musical games – some are more educational than others – all are great fun!
|BBC cbbc games
As your instrumental skills progress, understanding music theory and becoming a well-rounded musician becomes increasingly important in helping you to perform with sensitivity, understanding and confidence.
Music Theory exams aim to give students a thorough understanding of the building blocks of music, starting with the basics of rhythm and notes, and going on to cover harmony and counterpoint, composition, and a broad knowledge of western music, including composers and their works, structure, style and period.
The Grade 5 is the only music theory exam which it is compulsory to do before attempting the higher grades (6 and above) with the ABRSM. They make Grade 5 theory compulsory, because if you want to become a fully-rounded musician you need to know about theory. It is, of course, possible to be a great performer without knowing how to construct a dominant triad in the key of Ab major. But if you can construct a dominant triad in Ab major and can also recognise them in the music you are playing, you will have a deeper understanding of what you are playing – you will be an even better performer!
Speak to your teacher about when you should start learning theory.
If you choose to take graded music exams on your instrument or voice you will be required to do “Aural Tests” as part of the exam. These test your musicianship and understanding of how music works.
Your teacher will take you through the tests required for your exam in your lesson. However, you might find this app useful: ABRSM aural-trainer
If you study music at A2, AS or GCSE, here are some links that might help:
|BBC Music GCSE bitesize
TES Music GCSE
|Revision Books – amazon.co.uk
For some, taking a music exam for the first time can be quite a daunting experience. The ABRSM are on hand with lots of advice on their website (www.abrsm.org).
Here is what they say about NERVES:
“Parents, teachers and candidates should remember that these feelings are entirely normal. Accepting signs of heightened preparation for the activity to come is half the battle and using the extra adrenalin to good purpose is the next step. It takes experience to deal with nerves. Most performers, especially if given plenty of calm support beforehand, learn to cope. Talking the situation through with the teacher can help and playing or singing to informal groups is also useful. Allowing plenty of time on the day, so there is no last-minute panic, and taking a few deep breaths are tried and tested ways to help the situation.”
Practising your instrument or singing is the only way to improve and progress. Here are some pointers to help you practice better:
1. Little and often
Practising for shorter amounts of time daily will more productive over time. Provided you practice at least 5 days each week, most students will progress nicely with about 15 minutes’ daily well-organised practice for every two grades of progress.
2. Warm Ups and Finger Exercises
Never forget to do warm ups or finger exercises at the beginning of your practice session to avoid injuries and painful cramps.
3. Slow Practice
Once you can play all the sections of the piece, practise it all the way through slowly, gradually increasing the speed as you get more confident. Get yourself a metronome so that you can practise the difficult sections at a slower speed. There are many free apps for phones and tablets – take your pick!
4. Short Sections
Practise the bits you find the most difficult first in short sections then gradually stick them together to build up the piece.
5. Designated Area for Practice
By creating a designated area for your practice that is easily accessible, comfortable and clean, you will feel more encouraged to practise and consequently be more productive. Do not practice: in your bedroom, anywhere too cold, in a room with not enough space or with other distractions going on (i.e. your brother playing video games).
6. Designated Practice Time
If you plan and schedule a designated practice time, your practice will be less stressful and you will be more engaged in the time you spend practising.
7. Have Fun!!!
It’s the whole point of learning a musical instrument!
• Learn to take music to pieces. Playing a piece all the way through and then putting the instrument away is not practice. Only very rarely should you play any piece all the way through. Pick a shortish section, and say to yourself “today I’m going to practise this section, and tomorrow the next”.
• When you find a place that always goes wrong, decide which note or notes are the problem. Play that note or those notes several times. Then add the note before, several times. Then add the whole bar before several times. If it goes wrong again, go back to the beginning of the process. If it goes right, try the whole section again and see what happens. If it still isn’t right, make a mental note to do the whole thing again, perhaps not next day but the day after.
• Be patient, and forgive yourself. Everybody makes mistakes. Most of us make the same mistakes over and over. It’s very frustrating, but you don’t have to be perfect straight away. You can be perfect next week.
• Don’t ask too much of yourself. Set yourself targets that you know you can achieve. Don’t say “I’m going to play this whole piece with no mistakes at all”, but “I’ll play the third line four times over, and then I’ll stop even if there are still mistakes”. But before you put your instrument away, get your notebook and write down “Still wrong notes in bar 16 – practise this tomorrow”.
• Practice can be very tedious. Don’t be embarrassed to play silly games with yourself to make it more bearable. If you’ve decided to play one passage four times, for instance, play it once normally, then once standing on one leg, then once looking out of the window and once with your eyes shut. Or get a packet of sweets and give yourself rewards: say to yourself, “I’ll have one sweet when I have played this bar once without a mistake, and then I’ll have another when I’ve played the whole line, and another when I’ve played the first two lines..” and so on.
• However boring and pointless they may seem, scales are of vital importance. On string instruments there is nothing else that establishes finger-patterns quite so well, and on all instruments you are practising patterns of notes that will occur over and over again in all sorts of music. Once you really know your scales, you’ll be pleased you took the trouble.
• Treat scales (and arpeggios when you get to them) just like pieces: don’t just play them a couple of times, but take them to pieces and work on the difficult bits over and over before putting them back together again. And if they’re still not right, don’t curse and take up knitting instead – just patiently do it all over again tomorrow.
• Routine is valuable for most people. Do things in the same order every time you practise, and try to do your practice at the same time every day.
We all know that one of the hardest parts of learning a musical instrument is the scales. They are a very important part of learning to master your instrument, so here are some links to sites that have ideas for making it a little bit easier…
Do YOU have any pointers, thoughts or comments that fellow students might find helpful? Post a comment below and tell us your ideas.