Grades

News!

This week I would like to congratulate Mal on the near birth of his first child.  Mal has been having guitar lessons with me for 3 years.  We have covered some great songs and playing techniques, mostly electric guitar – based and rock style.  The most recent being the guitar solo and riffs from Whiskey in the Jar by Thin Lizzy.   Great solo!   Lots of fun.    Mal will be having a couple months break to become a new dad.

Here is his recent testimonial regards our lessons.

To anyone thinking of taking guitar lessons I’d strongly recommend Jo. I have found her one-to-one instruction and advice about my own guitar playing invaluable – much easier than trying to learn from a book or You-Tube video. 

Before taking lessons, I muddled on and off for years by myself without making any real progress beyond a few basic chords. I got into a bad habit of settling for easy to play songs and abandoning anything I found difficult.

 Learning songs I really want to play with Jo has made a huge difference to my playing. It has given me the confidence to attempt more challenging pieces which I previously thought were beyond my reach. When I’ve been struggling Jo has managed to work her magic with different suggestions and approaches. I wouldn’t describe myself as a natural guitar player, but Jo has the patience of a saint and has really helped me to steadily improve over the last three years. 

 

Another recent event and acheivement is the success of one of my other students Jamie in attaining a Merit of 78% for his Rockschool Electric Guitar Grade 2 exam.   I’m happy and proud and looking forward to starting his Grade 3 journey after the Summer. In the meantime we are spending some fun time polishing up Sweet Child of Mine and Enter Sandman!

 

Jo

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Categories: children's lessons, Goals, Grades, Jamming, Lessons, Playing Skills, rockschool, students, Testimonials | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

New Grade Success!

I’m very happy to belatedly congratulate my student Jamie on achieving an 80% Merit in his Rockschool Grade 1 guitar exam in December!

Jamie started having lessons with me 2 years ago after deciding the life of a rock star was calling.. now aged 10 with a nice list of benchmark riffs under his fingers (Sunshine of Your Love and Sweet Child of Mine firm favourites…) he’s on the quest of Rockschool Grades.

It’s really amazing for me to see this progress and smiles when young students are talking and getting excited about guitar. Even better when they put the work in and see themselves playing riffs they didn’t think they would be able to a few months ago.

The stage is calling! Turn up the amp….

Jo x

spinal_tap_-_up_to_eleven

 

Categories: children's lessons, Goals, Grades, Learning, Lessons, Playing Skills, rockschool, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations! University & Distinctions..

This week was my last guitar lesson with one of my long time students heading off to University.  Maisie began lessons with me at 13 years old and we have spent the last 5 years working together through RGT Acoustic Grades and ABRSM Theory, as well as some composition and learning songs.  The final achievement being her Distinction at RGT Grade 6 level.

I’m very proud and it’s been quite a journey. It has been very enjoyable for me to work with a student over that period of time, to see the development and get to take part in that. She now gets to begin the next chapter of her life studying for a Degree in Music. Exciting times.

Best of luck, it’s been a pleasure and thank you for the gifts!

maisie

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Grade 7 CONGRATULATIONS

I’m very happy to announce the well-deserved DISTINCTION attained by my guitar student Luke in his recent RGT Electric Guitar Grade 7 Exam.  Each grade always goes up a significant notch in exploring and developing a guitarists knowledge, expression and maturity of playing.  This is a great achievement.  I’m very proud!

Jo

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RGT Grade 4 success!

I have heard the news this week that one of my students has received a Distinction in her recent RGT Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar exam.  Super news for this time of year and a job well done.  All the hard work pulled off 🙂 Congrats to Maisie Scannell!

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Distinction!

Happy New Year everyone for 2014!

We jump straight back in at the deep end here and I’m very happy to announce and congratulate that my student Maise has passed her Grade 3 RGT Acoustic Guitar exam with a DISTINCTION.  Maisie took her exam just before Christmas, right in the thick of the time of year when nobody really wants to do any work!  Well, she did and it turned out fantastic.  Maisie really is turning into a fab guitarist!

I hope all of you have your new years resolutions in full swing and are enjoying the new energy.

Cheers
Jo

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Should I / my child work towards guitar grades?

To start off with this week I’d like to congratulate my student Luke on getting a Distinction in his Grade 6 RGT guitar exam.  It’s an inspiring and fantastic achievement and much hard work paid off.

Luke is 16 and he’s a great guitarist.  He plays a variety of styles of guitar and also other instruments and is hugely interested in music and playing music.  I’m a very proud guitar tutor 🙂

This brings me to the subject of my blog today…..

How important are grades for the guitarist?  Are grades essential?  And, what are my opinions on them?  

I am frequently asked these questions by my students and the parents of my students.  It is a subject not short on discussion amongst many a musician and on many a forum and it has as many varying viewpoints as people have opinions…

My story

To start off with, my story is that I passed my grade 8 guitar and my grade 5 Music Theory in college, whilst studying for a BTEC in Popular Music.  I then chose to go to University to study music. I’ve since gone into a career in music. Were grades essential for me? Yes.  They helped my theory and motivation. I felt encouraged by having certificates and benchmarks to work towards.  They contributed to me getting onto my University course.

The part to take note of is…

I didn’t ONLY do grades… the graded aspect of my guitar playing life was a very small percentage.  I was mainly out playing in bands (a lot!) and writing music, learning songs etc. The balance was very important for me and the grades complemented everything else.   I did the work but I also enjoyed playing.  That’s the thing to remember.  Work on feel and performance, play and creativity as well as theory….if that’s your thing it will all work together.

My opinion as a teacher?

As a guitar teacher my feelings have changed more than once and ultimately there is no overall fixed opinion for this subject.  Having taught many different styles/abilities/ages I can see that working through guitar grades is definitely the best choice for some and definitely not for everyone.   There are so many reasons why people enter into the world of playing guitar and it is here that will help you to decide whether working towards grades is relevant and/or useful to you or your child.

Ask yourself why you are playing guitar. 

The next step…?

What will grades offer you?

  • A recognised system of measurement for your playing.
  • A qualification regulated by Ofqual – grades contribute towards UCAS/A Level/GCSE points.
  • A structured and digestible progression. Discipline.
  •  A certificate from a recognised body – markers of achievement and deadlines for your learning.
  • Learning the theory and techniques to create an all round foundation for your playing.

If the above list appeals to you then I would encourage you to look into attaining grades a little bit further.  If it doesn’t appeal then maybe it’s not for you.  This doesn’t make you any more or less allowed to enjoy playing this awesome instrument 🙂

As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to follow the music education/career route then grades are most likely expected of you.   For children (and indeed adults!) who are motivated by achieving awards they will also be beneficial to you too.  Many people have the ability to self-discipline and can structure their own learning.  Others require help from an external source and hence look for a teacher.  This helps with focus, structure and an organised lesson with a deadline.

Each person has an individual need in this case and I would suggest if you have more questions after reading this then you should have a more detailed conversation with a professional (many professionals)…

please feel free to email me at:   jo@jobywaterguitartuition.com

Beware the myths…

Some people feel that working towards grades contributes towards making your playing ‘serious’ and ‘heavy’ or that it ‘stunts’ your creativity.  It doesn’t have to.   It is down to the person. Be a balanced player.

Have structure but ultimately remember how to play and have fun!  🙂

See you next time

Jo

RGT Grade books for Electric Guitar 

For those who would like to read further, here are links to the 2 main recognised popular guitar grading systems in the UK:

RGT

Rockschool

I teach grades where requested.  I’m happy to not teach grades. Guitar is about the individual.

Anybody who would like to add to this or comment by way of discussion please do.

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