My teaching philosophy has a lot to do with how I learnt when I first started. My first piano teacher was terrifying! She’d yell when I played a wrong note, slap my hands with a ruler she kept handy, and never seemed to smile. And not once did we seem to play for fun. It’s a miracle I ever continued.

Even my later teachers, some of whom I really loved, didn’t encourage me to be creative. We didn’t explore sounds and rhythm, I didn’t learn how to play chords so I could sing some songs, and no one ever suggested I make up my own music. These are all skills I now use—and enjoy—all the time, and make sure all my students develop from day one.

I come across many people who tell me they have no musical skill at all. They say they can’t sing to save themselves, or will never be able to play anything on the piano. In fact, some are petrified of even touching the piano keyboard. Despite this, they still have a strong urge to try. This is because we are all primed to be musical—to play and sing—even if we’ve forgotten how, or even when we’ve been told to forget all about it.

All of this means that in my lessons, my teaching philosophy is based on providing a warm, supportive, and creative environment for you to learn and grow and flourish. I specialise in making complex concepts easy to understand and implement. I’ll help you discover how amazing it can be to immerse yourself in music, even if only for the duration of a lesson. We will take things slowly and I promise I won’t make you do something until you’re ready. But from the very first lesson we’ll be making music. You’ll be playing or singing with me, and we’ll do as much without music notes in front of us as we will with it.

The five main areas of focus in lessons

Reading music is just one component of many in my lessons. The goal is to create well-rounded musicians who will carry the skills they learn and the confidence they gain with them wherever they go, creating a lifelong love of music. It’s with this in mind that I focus on these five broad areas:

Listening: listening to and working out rhythms, melodies, and simple harmonies; differentiating between genres

Singing: having the confidence and skills to open your mouth and sing by yourself, in two-part harmony and canons

Creating: feeling comfortable with the idea of exploring sound and rhythm and creating your own music, whether simple melodies and rhythms to be sung or played or more complicated harmony or chord progressions

Reading: having the skills and confidence to read music, including understanding what everything on the page means, why it is there, and how you might interpret it. This can extend from simple note reading through to advanced harmony, and can include understanding chord symbols and the many ways to play them

Writing: have the skills and confidence to notate music and rhythm patterns, from single lines through to more advanced notation; to notate your own creations

To learn more about piano, singing and musicianship lessons go to lessons

Dr Kate Paine at the Discovering Music studio

To read more about my teaching philosophy, as well as piano, musicianship, singing, and everything to do with the world of music, have a look at the free, weekly Discovering Music newsletter offering a creative path into the world of music, with resources, words, strategies, exercises, and encouragement.