Q and A with Robin Thornton

Robin Thornton MMus, BMus (Hons.), ATCL (Dip.) teaches Singing, Guitar, Piano, Bass Guitar Drums and Music Theory. Music Tuition – either in the studio or online.

– Which subject(s) do you teach?

I give lessons in Singing, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano, Drums, Composition and Theory. Lessons are given on an individual basis and are person centred. Materials used in the lesson are guided by the pupil’s interests. Lessons are available at the studio or online.

– Tell me about your qualifications.

I hold a Masters Degree (MMus), BMus (Hons.) and a Teaching Diploma, which I passed with distinction.

I started teaching in 1993 as part of a local teaching initiative and realised that it was something that came naturally to me. In 2004 I self-studied Grade 8 – Guitar, Bass, Piano and entered myself for the exams. The three Grade 8’s gave me enough UCAS points to miss first year of the Teaching Diploma, so my, four year, degree entailed a teaching diploma and the remaining three years of the degree. While studying for the teaching Diploma I passed Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Grade 8 Theory.
My Teaching Diploma is in the Principles and Practise of Individual Instruction and the Degree which I graduated with is in Music performance and composition, however I studied class room teaching for one and a half years. It is from classroom teaching the that I understand assessment, psychology and learning styles. I clearly plan lessons so that the pupil understands what they are learning in the lesson and what that learning is for.

What I learned on the Masters Degree informs my teaching. A thorough understanding of the history and development of music sets the context for the pupil’s learning and brings it to life.

– How much do you charge?

Lessons cost £17 per half hour and £34 per hour. All pupils begin be taking half hour lessons and, if it is appropriate, they advance to hour long lessons.

– Where do you teach?

I teach from my home studio and give online lessons. Online lessons are great is travelling is an issue. I teach local Students from Crathes, Drumoak, Strichen, Kemnay and Lumphanan, who find traveling difficult. I also teach Students in England, France, Russia, the Middle East and Australia, to whom traveling is impossible. Both – studio based and online – lessons are one-to-one and person centred.

I have a home studio at The Coach House Invery, Banchory. In my studio I have a Piano, Guitars – Electric, Acoustic, Classical and Bass Guitars – a Drum Kit, microphones for singing lessons and multple other instruments including – a Trumpet, Clarinet, Flute, Violin and Double Bass. These instruments are used in lessons to encourage pupils to be playful and explore their musical interests.

My first studio was in Kincardine O’Neil, then Glassel – just outside Torphins. My reputation spread and I taught pupils from Aboyne, Banchory, Stonehaven, Aberdeen City and the surrounding areas. This reputation has spread to the whole of Aberdeenshire as I have moved around.

– When are you available?

I teach from 09:00 – 20:30 – Monday to Friday and 09:30-13:00 on Saturday.

– Which ages and levels do you teach?

The youngest pupil that I am teaching is a 4 year old. The programme which is being followed is an age-appropriate mix of ‘Mini-Beasts’, ‘Kodaly Method’ and Gross Motor-Skills training. The eldest pupils are in their seventies. Teaching adult-learners is very rewarding. Adult-learners have a great breadth of experience to bring to the lessons. They ask questions that young pupils tend not to. This hones my teaching skills as I am required to think about my subject from different angles.

With such a wide range of ages, I am experienced in teaching learners who do not seek qualifications through to those who are preparing for University.

I also train prospective teachers to gain their professional qualifications. Teaching diplomas are no longer taught either at Aberdeen College or the Universities of Aberdeen or Robert Gordon’s. To maintain high standards and develop good teachers, I provide all the training necessary to gain professional qualifications in teaching.

– Which qualifications do you prepare your students for?

All levels and interests are covered. Whether you are taking up music lessons as a hobby or preparing for University entrance, I will tailor your lessons to suit your interests.

There are a variety of syllabuses which can be used to guide pupils on the route to becoming qualified. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity are sylabuses which I would teach for solo performance. These offer a brought education in performance: separate training is offered in theory and composition. The Rockschool incoroporates both performance and composition into one syllabus. This syllabus is aimed at students wishing to enter the Pop Music side of the industry. All syllabuses offer a Jazz component which develops aural skills and interpretation.

– Describe your arrangements for online tutoring.

Online tuition works extremely well. I first trailed Skype lessons while on teaching practise, when I couldn’t get home for lessons. Lessons are set up via Skype or Google Hangouts and run in real time. The student takes their own notes and explains what they are seeing on the music. This facilitates long term memory retention. As part of all lessons, pupils Compose their own music. This is marked during the lesson and feedback is given.

I have taught throughout the UK, France, the Middle East and Australia, via online lessons.

– Do you have a personal message for students?

Study Music Classically, not just, study classical music. You will learn the Music that you like, in a manner which will not limit your growth.

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