Guitar: How I can help

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Have you thought about taking up the guitar?

Playing the guitar is a relaxing and enjoyable past-time. Singing with your guitar is even more fun. I can help you with both.

I don’t promise to be the greatest guitarist in the world, but I do have plenty of experience in teaching beginners, both on a one-to-one basis, in small groups at schools, and even whole classes of 30 children!

I will introduce you to your guitar and help you to tune it. I will tell you about the different strings, how to play tunes and how to read music. This is the ‘classical’ part of the lesson.

I will also introduce you to playing chords (collections of notes played together). We will look at the simpler chords first, and then try to sing along with them. It is amazing how many songs you can sing by just knowing two or three of the most popular chords. This is the ‘folk’ part of the lesson.

Your part of the deal is to promise to play your guitar at least twice a day. This may sound demanding, but to learn a new skill, you have to work at it!

I think anyone from age 5 to 105 can learn to play the guitar. If you are interested, please contact me on the form on the front of the website.

Lessons last for 30 minutes and cost £15 each. They take place in Hillmorton, Rugby at my home.

Good luck!

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Piano: How I can help

Have you ever considered taking up the piano or keyboard? I knew from a very early age that I wished to play the piano. I began lessons at about five years and continued with them until I was about 16 or 17. I managed to complete the Grade system of examinations, passing my Grade 8 in piano, and Grade 5 in theory.

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This is the piano you will be learning on. It is very pleasant to play!

I was never that interested in the exam system, and have always thought that the piano is an instrument to enjoy, have fun with, and not to worry too much about passing tests. So the philosophy of my teaching is to ENJOY making music.

From the very first lesson, I will be encouraging students to play recognisable tunes from a range of sources – some classical, some popular songs, some folk songs and so on. Of course, I will also teach musical theory, and the basic techniques of playing – including the dreaded scales!

Most important of all, I will encourage my students to play the piano at least twice a day. This is really, really key and will result in considerable progress in a short time. It is very obvious from lessons when a student hasn’t touched the piano or guitar since the last lesson. This is disappointing and a bit of a waste of time. So, play regularly and don’t keep the lid on your piano or the case on your guitar. And enjoy it! That is what music is about. It should not be a drudge.

I am open to teaching anyone from 4 to 104. Please contact me for advice if you are unsure. You will need a keyboard (either electronic or a traditional piano), and an enthusiasm to learn, and a willingness to play twice a day. I will help you with the rest.

If you wish to take piano exams, I can support you with this. We will go through the scales, sightreading and aural tests together. We will prepare your selected pieces. So far, my students have a 100 per cent success rate!.

Lessons cost £15 for half an hour and take place weekly. To get in touch, please use the contact form on the front of my website. Good luck!

SATs: How I can help

When children come to take their SATs in Years Two and Six, it can be a stressats 1sful time. Schools are, understandably, very keen for pupils to perform at their very best as the results are presented in league table format and reflect on the reputation of the school.

At present, children will sit SATs papers in mathematics, English reading and writing, and spelling. In mathematics, there will be two papers plus a mental paper. There will be a ‘reading’ paper, in which children are presented with texts and then have to answer questions on it. There will be two writing papers – a short writing task (usually 20 minutes) and a longer writing task. There might also be a spelling test. There are some variations between the Year Two and Year Six tests.

It is important for schools to create a relaxed atmosphere around the tests, particularly in Year Two where children are not necessarily used to the structure of tests. Many schools try to put their Year Six children at ease by providing them with breakfast on test days, to ensure they are well fed and in good condition for performing at their very best.

Children should be encouraged to do their best in their SATs, but should not be put under too much pressure. They are useful for teachers to uncover gaps in the learning of their pupil, and analysis of the papers can be very helpful.

So how can a personal tutor help? Well, often children feel better about tests if they have encountered the particular style of test before. A tutor can help work through previous papers, talk about the style of answers, and can discuss how to present responses so the maximum number of marks can be awarded. Many teachers will do this on a class basis and will be very efficient at doing so.

However, much can also be achieved on a one-to-one basis. I would look in detail at responses children have given in tests and how these could be improved. I would look at mark schemes and examiners’ reports. What is the very best way of securing three marks out of three on this question? How should you present the workings on this mathematics question to get the most marks? How should I plan this long piece of writing, faced with a blank sheet of paper?

I would be happy to discuss with parents how I can help their children face up to SATs with confidence, and calm, so they can do their best.

Maths: How I can help at primary level

mathsI would begin by having a discussion with the parent. What problem is your child facing? How can I help? You might be able to give me an idea of your child’s current National Curriculum level.

For the first session, I would probably do a diagnostic test of your child’s abilities. I would look through the requirements for their next National Curriculum level and ask them questions relating to each of the individual skills needed. This would give me an idea of areas to focus on in future sessions, which each last 45 minutes.

I would also talk to you about topics currently being studied at school, and how I can directly help with giving your child confidence in these lessons.

I try to make the sessions enjoyable and varied. I use different teaching materials, including some teaching programmes on laptops and Ipads. I will also work through exam or test-style questions which your child is likely to encounter and discuss how we could use our skills to answer them.

I will give you a written summary by email after each session to ensure you know what has been achieved.

English: How I can help at primary level

My initial approach would be to have a discussion with you about the issues facing your child. Ideally, I would then look through some of their recent work to discover their strengths and weakness. They might have issues moving from simple to compound sentences, or from compound to complex sentences.

Other issues might include spelling, punctuation or general grammar. They might need to focus on using more connectives, or adverbs, or working on their descriptive skills.

I would look at the requirements of their particular National Curriculum level and design work, which we would do together, to support them. I might also look at end-of-term or end-of-year tests (for instance in shorter or longer writing) and then model an approach to answering the question. We might do the plan together and then discuss how to transfer this to a written paragraph.

If there is a particular topic or issue which your child is covering at school, I could offer support in our 45-minute sessions. Hopefully, this would transfer to greater confidence and achievement in the classroom.

My aim would be to support the work of the class teacher and to complement whatever was going on in the classroom. I hope this would help!

Does your child lack confidence at school?

I am often asked how to help children who lack confidence at school. I find that one-to-one tuition can be a vital support. This gives children an opportunity to spend time with a qualified teacher and talk through their difficulties.

Children often have excellent teachers and also get the chance to work in small groups at school. This is very helpful. However, some children need a little more. They need the chance to spend quality one-to-one time with someone who is experienced and qualified.

That’s where the role of the personal tutor comes in. Tutors support what the teacher does. They do not replace the teacher.

When I was a class teacher, I had no problem with students having personal tutors. In fact, I often saw the benefit in the classroom and was pleased when they brought in work to show me.

For me, it was a partnership. We were all involved in supporting the child and helping them to become a better learner.