The Leeds-based cello pedagogue explains why it’s important to encourage students to relax
How do you structure your lessons?
I always plan ahead and know what I’m going to do. Whatever the level of the student I start with a scale, then move on to a study or at least part of one. Depending on time, I move on to a piece or two – or bits of them. I concentrate on a particular weak point, usually a technical problem, for about seven or eight weeks at a time, using different tunes and exercises to help correct it. Technique and repertoire should always join together. The studies you teach should match the repertoire you want your students to play. For example, if a piece requires thumb position, you should set a thumb-position study. At the end of a lesson I always let students know what we’ll do next time.
What advice do you give your students about practice?
I’m quite free with how my students practise, but I do try to look into the amount of time they have and plan accordingly. I also give them clear guidance depending on their skill, such as: practise slowly and really listen; pitch every note in your head in advance; play just one octave of the scale; or try different bowings.
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