Blog

18 October

Beautiful Russian Music For Piano

We have been rehearsing and playing a lot of Russian music lately in lessons. The music is suitably moody and emotive to many of our current students – they seem to enjoy the somewhat dissonant sounds at times and the fun rhythmic patterns!

There are so many great composers who have come from Russia. Often we just hear about the greatest of the great – yet this Russian music series has broadened our horizons on the variety that Russian music presents.

Check out ‘Russian Music for Piano’ by Chester Music and enjoy some beautiful tunes!

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12 October 2017

National Curriculum at Schools in Uganda

As part of our current research project, we have been learning about the National Curriculum in Uganda. It is different to the model that we follow in Europe. It is based on a Curriculum Wheel that consists of eight Learning Areas. The Areas cover subject knowledge, but also general skills such as creative thinking and workplace behaviour.

Being a prominently Christian country, Religious education features in all primary and secondary schools. In addition to the usual subjects of language, science, mathematics, social science and physical education with creative arts, something called Life Education forms a part of the curriculum. This section focuses on life skills such as living healthily in the community and taking care of one’s personal health.

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Interestingly for us since we are specifically looking at music education in Uganda, music has been classed under Physical Education. What this entails is something that we are currently finding out and conducting a survey on current practices taking place – we will be sharing the interesting findings soon! In the meantime, you can learn more about the National Curriculum on the website of the National Curriculum Development Centre:

http://www.ncdc.go.ug/

25 September 2017

ool Term in Uganda

New term at our school in Uganda has got off to a good start. Children at the Mother Ann nursery school and music students at the Buna School of Music have been busy with their new lessons and curriculum for the autumn term, which is also their last term of the year since, in Uganda, the school year runs from January to November.

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13 September

Insightful Reading on Music in Uganda

This week we have been spending time on researching music in Uganda. Like other African countries, Uganda has a rich history in music. It has been particularly interesting to learn about different styles of music from different regions of Uganda – how the local languages, dances,tribal practices and singing styles have influences the current musical culture in Uganda.

For those of you who know more about academics and researchers in music, you might find it interesting to know that Peter Cooke collected vast amounts of recordings in Uganda back in the day! These can all still be found at the British Library.

For more in-depth reading and knowledge on this, we recommended the two books that you can see in the images below – they are very comprehensive and very interesting reading indeed!

08 September 2017

Post-doctoral Research Study on Music Education in Uganda

We are pleased to say that we have been awarded a scholarship to carry out an investigative study on the music education system in Uganda, East Africa. The scholarship was awarded by the Society for Education and Music Psychology Research (SEMPRE).

The research study will investigate current practice in music education across Uganda in order to identify challenges and potential ways forward in the field. The study will consist of data collection with local music education professionals in four regions of the country in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

We delighted to be starting work on this important topic and we’ll be reporting any findings here on due course.

30 June 2017

Mulago Development Group

Our school and consultancy in Kampala, Uganda, has been working in partnership with Mulago Development Group. The group provides education and health care to children in Ghana and Uganda. Their ethos is that no matter anyone’s background, everyone has the same right to a good life.

You can find more detailed information on the group on their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/SustainableDevelopmentCommunity/about/?ref=page_internal

A few weeks ago, the group rescued a baby girl who had been abandoned by her parents and left in a pit by a road. She has been doing well whilst being looked after by members of the group . Generous donation from our European supporters have helped to get basic food and clothes for her. At the moment she is receiving treatment for malaria, which is still a very common illness across Africa. Any donations towards her treatment and other basics are much appreciated – please get in touch with the group via their facebook page in regard to this.

Here you can see her sweet face and what an adorable girl she is despite the tough start to life!

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28 June 2017

Piano Cover for ‘Passionfruit’ by Drake

One of the things that I love about my job is that students introduce songs to me that I might not have otherwise paid much attention to, even if I had heard them on the radio. One such song is ‘Passionfruit’ by Drake. We worked on a piano cover for the song with a teenage student yesterday. What beautiful melody and catchy rhythm!

The Theorist on youtube has an excellent piano tutorial. There is also an option of downloading the sheet music – the link is below for you to enjoy!

26 June 2017

Glastonbury Inspiration

There is always amazing energy at Glastonbury, but it seems that this year it was even more electrifying. With all the upsetting events of late, people got together in the name of music and we could see all the great energy at the festival this year.

For anyone looking for music inspiration this week, here is coverage from the festival that can be viewed outside of the UK as well:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ec584f/live/cvv9mb

15 June 2017

This week we have been busy getting ready for grade exams. In the midst of business, we have managed to play some relaxing jazz music. One favourite for this week has turned out to be Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’.

You can find a good piano cover and tutorial here – it’s a nice listen on it’s own too!

7 June 2017

Coping with Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is very common – most musicians and music students would report to have suffered from it at some point in their lives. Even very seasoned musician admit to feeling very nervous before performing – for example, Rita Ora, the singer and recording artist, has admitted feeling extremely nervous before going on stage to the point where she feels like throwing up. She said that the only way for her to cope with it is to keep telling herself that she can only be as good as she possibly can and to do her best.

Now is the time of Grade exams and so many students are struggling with nerves.
There are some simple tricks to coping with performance anxiety – for some handy ideas, check out this list from http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/stage-fright-performance-anxiety#1:

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Performance Anxiety Treatments

Here are some tips to help you overcome your fears and shine on stage, on the field, or at the podium:

1. Be prepared: practice, practice, practice.

2. Limit caffeine and sugar intake the day of the performance. Eat a sensible meal a few hours before you are to perform so that you have energy and don’t get hungry. A low-fat meal including complex carbohydrates — whole-grain pasta, lentil soup, yogurt, or a bean and rice burrito — is a good choice.
Shift the focus off of yourself and your fear to the enjoyment you are providing to the spectators. Close your eyes and imagine the audience laughing and cheering, and you feeling good.

3. Don’t focus on what could go wrong. Instead focus on the positive. Visualize your success.

4. Avoid thoughts that produce self-doubt.

5. Practice controlled breathing, meditation, biofeedback, and other strategies to help you relax and redirect your thoughts when they turn negative. It is best to practice some type of relaxation technique every day, regardless of whether you have a performance, so that the skill is there for you when you need it.
Take a walk, jump up and down, shake out your muscles, or do whatever feels right to ease your anxious feelings before the performance.

6. Connect with your audience — smile, make eye contact, and think of them as friends.

7. Act natural and be yourself.

8. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, and live a healthy lifestyle.

Keep in mind that stage fright is usually worse before the performance and often goes away once you get started.

17 May 2017

Piano Cover of Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’

Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ is a piece that has become very famous over the past 100 years. Although initially composed for a full orchestra, it is equally beautiful on single instruments and for smaller ensembles.

We have been working on this with different students on and off for the past year. Recently, we rediscovered it after a teenage student heard it on the Alton Towers TV advert and wanted to learn it.

We discovered a couple of excellent tutorials on youtube – see below and have a go a home! The piece is highly addictive so be prepared to get hooked!

16 May 2017

This week we are working on Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’. The piano cover of it is very beautiful – the melody lines come out nicely with a strong baseline in the left hand. Once again, Peter PlutaX has an excellent piano tutorial on youtube:

11 May 2017

Piano Tutorial For John Legend

John Legend has some very beautiful songs – and as we all working with the piano know,he also loves featuring his piano playing skills in his videos!

For our all time favourite John Legend song ‘All of Me’, go on youtube and search for Peter PlutaX – he has an excellent youtube channel on piano tutorials – here is a direct link to his piano tutorial on ‘All of Me’:

27 April 2017

Practice Makes ‘Perfect’

When you are learning to play a musical instrument, as with any other activity, practice is key. It takes time not only to learn to read musical notation but also for muscle memory to develop. Students new to learning always ask us how much time they should be dedicating to practicing and how many hours a week they should be spending playing their instrument of choice.

As with any practice, consistency is key. We often advice students to do some practice every day, even if it is just 10 minutes. At least this way our brains and muscles do not have too long a break in between practice sessions and are more likely to develop quicker than if more time is left in between practices. What often happens is that students spend longer than the 10 minutes practicing anyway – once you start playing and enjoy it, you feel like doing more of it! More advanced students often find that even half an hour is not enough – with longer pieces and technical exercises, time goes by very fast.

Rather than focusing on time spent practicing, students should focus more on the enjoyment they find in playing and the outcome of their practice – it is a great feeling when you have learn a new piece and can play it fluently from the beginning to the end.

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24 April 2017

Grade Exams for all Instruments

We receive many inquiries and questions about the graded instrumental exams that have become very popular nowadays – not only for assessing someone’s level of music education but also for gaining extra points for getting places in institutions such as secondary schools. Anyone can register for such an exam, which are organized and monitored by an independent examination body. Passing the exams gives a more formal and clear idea on one’s ability to play a specific instrument as well as their overall musical ability.

The exams are carried out three times a year in the autumn (October-November), spring (March) and summer (June-July). Generally we encourage students to do a grade per year of learning, though at times it might be possible to do two grades per year. The exams can give one focus and motivation to practice and learn; however, they should not be the sole focus and other materials in addition to exam pieces should also be played and practiced in order to develop as an all-rounded musician.

If someone has been playing an instrument for quite some time and hasn’t yet done any grades, it is possible to start on later grade. For example, go straight to grade 2 or 3. Your teacher can assist you in understanding your level of playing in relation to the graded exams.

For further information, for booking an exam, ordering exams books or any other details, please see:

http://gb.abrsm.org/en/about-abrsm/

 

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20 April 2017

Music Lessons and Social Class

The United Kingdom is the last country in Europe to still hold onto its class system. There is still much talk and division between the so-to-say upper class, middle class and working class. These divisions apply to taking private music lessons as well.

What we have noticed over the past five years that we have worked closely in the field is that the middle and upper classes are more likely to take private music lessons. Initially you might think that it has to do with finances – taking private lessons is costly on long run. However, a study by the examination board for musical learning found that, in fact, money was not an issue but rather a general interest – people from working class were simply not interested in learning to play an instrument.

Now this raises questions on whether it was purely a lack of awareness and opportunities, whether working class folks simply never really thought of learning to play an instrument as it was simply not presented to them and it was not in their culture and lifestyle to do so?

As in any field, awareness is key – which is why we are setting up workshops and information events in more working classes areas of London in order to engage those who might otherwise never thought to do so. This way more people will not only learn a new skill, but also have a chance to relax through engaging in music, let music influence other areas of their lives (such as increase their level of concentration) and have a hobby that can prove to be a great way of releasing stress and ‘letting off steam’.

15 March

Our friend  and colleague Ann Rich is currently in Uganda and has successfully fundraised £500 through Gofundme in order to foster 4-month old Faith Grace who is an orphan.We are beyond delighted to receive these news as this means that baby Faith will now be in safe hands and won’t fall into poverty and abuse.

Thank you to every single one who donated!

1 March

Our friend and colleague Ann Rich from the Mother Ann Foundation has been in Uganda for some weeks now. She has been busy working on her own nursery school project, but has also kindly kept us up to date on the work of our educational consultancy.

The consultancy has been doing many orders of school books and teaching materials for schools across Uganda. Ann performed an independent evaluation of the quality of the materials and the results have been outstanding. The consultancy is being widely acknowledged and it is gaining a great reputation in the field. We are delighted that this branch of work has gotten off to a great start and we hope to continue on such track.

Ann has also been busy decorating the classroom for her nursery kids where music lessons are currently also being held. Below you can see the charts, posters and fresh paint being used for decorating the room. For more details on her work, please visit https://motherann.org.uk/

20 February 2017

Corruption and dishonest politics in many African countries are causing the poor to become even poorer. Our friend and colleague Ann Rich from the Mother Ann Foundation has been in Uganda for some weeks and she has given us daily reports on how things are over there. Unfortunately, the political situation hasn’t been good over there and it’s affecting people’s lives negatively. Below you can see the headlines of newspapers in the country.

If this doesn’t put things into perspective, then what does?

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31 January

Our friend and colleague Ann Rich has been in Uganda for a few days and already has done many wonderful things for the local kids. For now, she is in Kampala where she is checking on the progress of her nursery school, as well as our music school and educational consultancy. Thanks to some amazing donors, the kids received some new story books, which they enjoyed listening to.

26 January 2017

Photo Updates from Uganda by Ann Rich

Our longstanding and dear friend and colleague Ann Rich from the Mother Ann Foundation has just arrived in Uganda. She is planning on spending 10 weeks over there, visiting projects and taking photos of the development of the each project. She is involved in many projects in the country, including her own Mother Ann Nursery School. Ann will take photos of the music school and consultancy and we’ll be showing you updates soon.

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17 January

NEW WOMEN’S COMMUNITY PROJECT

Our Educational Consultancy and Music School  with the Mother Ann Foundation and Nursery School in Kampala, Uganda, has partnered with a new project that aims to empower and educate women in the local community. The Mulago Development Group aims to empower and educate women through offering them educational initiatives and providing them with chances to earn an income from their handicraft. An additional aim of the group is to educate women on their choice of family planning and when to start a family, as well as how many children to have.

Currently, our premises in Kampala are being used by this group in order for the women to have a space where they can make note books for schools. The new school year in Uganda starts on the 6th of February – hence the ladies are hoping to sell the note books for pupils and teachers in order for the to have new books for the school year.

Anyone interested in learning more about this initiative or in purchasing any note books made by these women, please get in touch with us at: tiija.rinta@gmail.com..

11 January 2017

Additional Group Music Classes Starting January 2017

We are excited to be able to add more group classes to our schedule this term. Groups classes are proving to be popular as they are more social and interactive, as well as more affordable for many young learners. In particular for younger children who are at the beginning of learning an instruments, they are a more fun way to learn the basics whilst making new friends.

If you are interested in group music classes in East London, do drop us a line at tiija.rinta@musicalbeginningseast.co.uk..

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19 December

We would like to thank everyone who has taken lessons with us this year in London (UK) and Kampala (Uganda) – it has been a very fulfilling year and we hope that you all enjoy your holidays before we start with new lessons in 2017!

6 December    

Happy Holidays

It is the end of the school year in Uganda, and so all of our wonderful students have graduated and are off on a long Christmas holidays break. They will return in January when the new school year starts. We hope that they all have a wonderful and refreshing break, and thank them for studying with us this school year!

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29 November 2016

Holiday Study Packs for Christmas Holidays in Uganda

Holiday study packs are now ready at our offices in Kampala, Uganda. Over the next week, they will distributed to schools and pupils in time for the month long break that will start on the 9th of December. This is the longest break in the school year, with pupils currently sitting their end of year exams and getting ready starting in the next year group in January.

For many, in particular those in more rural areas, the break is long and they can feel lost without having much to do over the holidays. Some are drafted into doing farm work or helping around the house a lot. Many complain about not having enough school materials to keep them focussed and busy. As we know, being idle can lead to mischief and trouble.

We are hoping that these study packs can help fill the void and keep kids busy over the holidays.

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24 November

CHRISTMAS SHOEBOX APPEAL FOR KIDS IN UGANDA

Mother Ann Foundation has been working in Uganda for many years. They have helped hundreds of orphans, underprivileged kids and barely-coping parents by providing the kids with basics such as  food and clothes but also by educating them. Currently the Foundation runs a nursery school in Kampala, the capital city. The nursery school serves orphaned and poor kids who would otherwise not be able to attend school.

The Foundation is appealing to locals in the UK to make a shoebox for Christmas that can be sent to the kids in Uganda. Many of them do not have the resources to celebrate Christmas and so such a shoebox can really make all the difference, in particular if it is filled with useful items such as toothpaste and clothes.

For more information on how to make such a box and then how to get it to the Foundation, please see the link below. Any donations are greatly appreciated and in turn you will receive a gift and photos from the children in Uganda.

http://motherann.org.uk/motherannfoundationchristmas-shoebox-appeal-2016/

21 November                 

Research Project on Climate Change in Uganda

Climate change is a widely talked about topic and its derive effects are not fully known. We can all tell that our weather patterns are changing, no matter where we are in the world. In more developed countries, people have the resources to deal with such changes; however in the developing world, it is a different story.

In Uganda, heavy rains have been causing havoc lately. Over there, the year is split into dry and rainy seasons, with the dry season expected to start at any time now. However, very heavy rain has caused flooding, muddy roads that are hard to drive on, and even natural disasters such as landslides and flooding of rivers.

Staff at our consultancy in Kampala are  currently undertaking research into how such climate change affects the occurrence  of landslides and deforestation in rural parts of Uganda near the Mount Elgon. Historically, the area has been badly affect by landslides and there is much fear that climate change and heavy rains will make the problems worse.

We are keen to finalise the report on the research and then present it to the relevant Government Officials.

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8 November 2016            BOOKS IN THE MAKING FOR MOROTO

These lovely school books are nearly on their way to Moroto in northern Uganda. Teachers and pupils are eagerly waiting for them in this unstable region of the country where school supplies are scarce. Our staff at the consultancy has been delighted to work with the schools in the region and hope to continue this partnership in the future.

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7. June 2015 June 2017Piano Cover for ‘Passionfruit’ by Drake

One of the things that I love about my job is that students introduce songs to me that I might not have otherwise paid much attention to, even if I had heard them on the radio. One such song is ‘Passionfruit’ by Drake. We worked on a piano cover for the song with a teenage student yesterday. What beautiful melody and catchy rhythm!

The Theorist on youtube has an excellent piano tutorial. There is also an option of downloading the sheet music – the link is below for you to enjoy!

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