Back to the beginning

Well, I did promise to report back on my experience as a beginner.  I have now had two carillon lessons, and it has been fascinating to see how I fall into all the habits that drive me to distraction in my own students!

  • I play everything better alone; when the teacher is listening, mistakes happen.  (Even worse, if I’m playing well and my teacher says, “Good,” then I immediately stumble!)
  • I play much faster than necessary.  I know that the chances of success are much higher if one starts slowly, but I want to show off for my teacher, and I want to sound good.
  • I try pieces all hands and feet together, when I know that my chances of success are greatly improved if I learn things hands/feet separately first and then slowly add a component.
  • I know that practising 15 minutes a day is preferable to doing 1 hour’s practice the day before the lesson, and yet this is what I do (although in my defence, I have to make a journey to the carillon, so it is more difficult that picking up an instrument at home).


Already, this experience is giving me more insight into my students, and hopefully it will increase my patience when students exhibit any of the above tendencies!

Carillon selfie

Me at the Sydney University practice Carillon…. am I the only one who thinks that it looks a little like a medieval instrument of torture?!

Why we’re different

Music teachers are a special bunch, and here at Stellar Music School we look for especially wonderful teachers.

I believe that the teacher can often be a major factor in a student continuing with their musical studies.  Who of us doesn’t remember a particular school teacher who believed in us when others didn’t, or who gave us special responsibilities when others might not have, or who we loved just because?

At Stellar Music School we make sure that all of our teachers are great professionals who are active performers in the musical world, but we also look for tutors who are inspiring, fun and dedicated.  We believe that music lessons are about teaching music elements, of course, but they are also about the relationship between the student and the teacher.

And that is why we treat each student as a whole person.

Last week I had a small student who was being quite naughty and disobedient, but who had never given me trouble before.  She was briefly separated from the rest of the class to cool down, but then I thought to ask what was going on for her.  Turns out that she was rebelling about having to come to piano lessons.  Someone had recently visited her school and played the violin for the class, and my little student was now wanting to play violin, and not piano.

Sometimes bad behaviour is simply because afternoon tea involved unaccustomed (and from my perspective, unwelcome) consumption of chocolate.

Other times it is explained by knowing that a family member is currently fighting cancer, or knowing that the family is dealing with a death.

Generally we know about all of these factors, and are able to adjust the lesson accordingly.

We also know which students need to be pushed or encouraged to reach higher, and which children might need to just talk and cry for one lesson.  We are there to teach piano (or violin, or clarinet, or singing) but we appreciate that we are dealing with a human being who might have significant other things going on in their lives.

We do believe in discipline, hard work and perseverance, and we need to teach a generation who are coming to believe in instant achievement that many worthwhile pursuits take time to achieve.

But we teach individuals, and we meet each student as a unique, interesting, special, individual.