The Day Before

the-viola-diaries-blog-home startSo. All is good. My Home Start donation page is set up. I have the viola set up to the best of my abilities. The tailpiece is in place with the bridge installed. The strings are spread out enough to make it so that I can play it properly. The bow is coated in rosin and I have everything I need for the Grade 1 exam. I have printed off the vocal part that I will be singing in the choir tomorrow. All in all, I am pretty much all prepared.

I will also be doing some stuff to help with the brass lessons in the morning and am looking forward to working with the Grade-1-athon (or GOAT) staff.

How does it feel to be starting again?

I am a little apprehensive about the whole thing and this is why this is such a good challenge. It is a great opportunity to raise money for Home Start. Also, as a teacher it can be easy to forget the different things that the people we teach go through on a regular basis. Remembering that some people feel a bit nervous or afraid that they are going to mess up is, quite frankly, easy and fairly obvious.

What is not so obvious though is the feeling that some students encounter. The feeling of being the only one who might not be able to do things right. I know that I see this and I know what this looks like, or how it manifests itself if you will. But the actual feelings. The way in which your body reacts and the things that happen physiologically are not something I have remembered or experienced for a while. It is these feelings, these reactions and emotional states that my students go through that have really been highlighted through the start of this challenge.

I have no doubt that this will be amplified and will feel very real tomorrow during the first lesson I have on the viola. But I am also certain that the people I work with in the morning will most likely be experiencing similar feelings or concern or anxiety.

Teaching Pedagogy

Taking this knowledge and awareness and adapting my approach inline with this could prove to have far-reaching and positive impacts on those that I interact with tomorrow. But, and more importantly, these changes to my approach in teaching and delivery could profoundly improve the experience that my current students have.

the-viola-diaries-blog-home start

As I am writing this I am waiting for a rehearsal to begin. I am fortunate enough to be sat outside a beautiful church in the most glorious sunshine. I am not anxious about playing tuba today and have no real sense of concern about the music I am going to be given.  This is such a far cry from the feelings I have regarding tomorrow.

I am not too apprehensive about the choir stuff as I will have done that loads. However, I know that there will be some people that will find the prospect of this intimidating. I am quite apprehensive about the actual lesson part and am concerned about the following things:

  1. What if I mess everything up?
  2. Will anyone laugh at me?
  3. What if I can’t make a decent sound?
  4. Will I be much worse than everyone else?
  5. Will there be anyone I know?
  6. How will people judge me if I really struggle with this?
  7. What if I just can’t do it?

Thoughts & Feelings

These feelings are entirely irrational. They are based on a pattern of negative thinking. If these are focused on too much they can be the cause of real anxiety. Following this, a sense of nervousness and eventually the possibility of clamming up and going into a downward spiral where nothing works.

I have seen this begin, and I have watched it happen on far too many occasions. Thankfully this is happening less and less but to be honest, just a single time is one time too many. There are many things I have developed and changed about my approach to teaching and some of them have happened without me even noticing.

Moving On

I am planning to develop my understanding of my current teaching approach and my awareness of potential concerns and worries. Not so that I can pander to them. This is so that I can develop strategies so that these concerns or worries are not highlight (or accentuated). I can then ensure that they are effectively dealt with in a way that enhances the work I do and the results my students achieve.

Thanks for reading. Watch out for more pictures and practice posts!

Home Start

In the mehome-start-oxfordan time, click below to donate to Oxfordshire Home Start. An amazing charity that does so much fantastic work to support families in an hour of need. Just click here to make your donation.

Shaun Humphries Administrator
Shaun is currently involved in developing a Music Theory Course that will help people of all ages gain a greater awareness of the building blocks of music. Shaun began playing the cornet at the age of seven. He joined the Salvation Army Junior Band and obtained his grade 5 by the age of 10. It was at this time Shaun was truly inspired by an amazing teacher at school who made a real difference – way beyond what he could ever have imagined. Shaun moved onto tuba during his last year at secondary school. He joined Swindon Pegasus Brass and then the NYBB a year later under the direction on Colin Shiner. Shaun read Music at Anglia Polytechnic University, majoring in composition and performance under the direction of Alan Bullard and Michael Clack. He taught for a year at Wells Cathedral School as a practice supervisor, and was conductor of a number of small ensembles. Shaun continued his studies and achieved his MA in Music Performance, under the direction of Nicholas Hitchin (ENO) at Colchester Institute School of Music. Shaun has worked as a peripatetic brass teacher for a number of years with the Swindon Music Co-operative, Wiltshire Music Service, Bath & North East Somerset Music Service, and Northamptonshire Music Service. He has performed as a tuba player within a variety of ensembles including the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, West London Sinfonia (as principal tuba), Swindon Pegasus Brass, and MK Brass. Shaun is regularly asked to perform as a deputy tuba player for Trinity Camerata, Aylesbury Vale Symphonic Wind Band and Towcester Studio Band. As principal tuba with NOW, Shaun was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall and Central Park in New York, and worked with Andrew Hall, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine as an Associate Musical Director for the opening of the MK Dons Stadium. Shaun has been heavily involved with music in Buckinghamshire and has worked as a director with a number of bands including Towcester Studio Band, MK Brass (as a deputy conductor), MK Development Band, Secklow Brass (as a deputy conductor), Great Horwood Silver Band, Wolverton Band, Brackley Wind Ensemble and is a founding member and conductor of Fantini Chorus. Shaun is currently principal tuba with Banbury Symphony Orchestra and Musical Director of Hook Norton Brass Band. Shaun has been Musical Director for a number of shows, including productions of Calamity Jane, Little Shop of Horrors (With Buckingham University), Grease, Joseph, and Footloose. He has recently performed as the Director (and Musical Director) for Honk! Junior. After studying for a PGCE at Oxford Brookes University, Shaun has worked as Head of Department in a number of secondary schools in Milton Keynes, Rugby, Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire. He is now a peripatetic music teacher offering lessons within his home studio or via Skype if required. Shaun is also a certified Life coach, a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and a Certified Hypnotherapist. He enjoys working with and helping individuals increase their self awareness, develop focus and improve productivity. With his past experience he is able to help you to develop greater resilience, confidence and self belief within your workplace or home life. Through developing thinking strategies, breaking through barriers (such as limiting beliefs and thought patterns) and developing new behaviour patterns Shaun can help you realise your true potential!