07791 445037

56 St Fagans Road
Fairwater
Cardiff
CF5 3AL

© 2019 Philip May

Teaching

People can begin the piano at any age, but the youngest age one can realistically start is 4. Lessons are usually arranged weekly for 30 minutes, though more advanced students will require 45-minute or hour-long lessons. I am also happy to offer 'drop-in' sessions, often for adults who want to learn the piano as a pastime but schedules don't allow for regular practise. Such students tend to contact me when they would like to arrange their next lesson. Regardless of a student's level, the pace of lessons are always set by the student's ability and rate of progress.

 

The initial trial lesson is free so that students may comfortably assess whether they would like to continue. Should they decide to do so, I charge £12 for 30 minutes, £17 for 45 minutes and £22 for one hour. Please feel free to contact for more information.

 

Aside from my professional qualifications, I am also a Registered Private Teacher with the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

For further information, please see below:

Beginners

Intermediate

Advanced

Theory & Aural

 
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BEGINNERS

I work with beginners of all ages and capacities for learning. Some start as young as 4, others begin after retirement.

 

I use a variety of teaching resources (bought and handmade!), books, as well as music theory workbooks (with specialist theory books for the younger student). I also actively encourage and work on both exploratory and critical listening, general musical knowledge and general musicianship. For those more creatively-minded students, I also incorporate improvisation and composition into the lessons. For particularly young students just beginning (and whose hands haven't quite grown for those big stretches!), we will incorporate coordination games, listening games, and other musical activities to break up the lessons into more manageable bites. I also use the Manu-Mat and the Manu-Mat Keyboard to assist beginners' learning.

 

Publications that I use include the Piano Time Series, Me & My Piano, Up-Grade books, ABRSM's Roundabout and Piano Mix books, Chester's Easiest Piano Course, Ben Crosland's Easy Beans and Magic Beans books, Pop and Christmas tunes, Disney arrangements, and the occasional Czerny exercise.

 

INTERMEDIATES

The intermediate stages (typically grades 4 to 6) are like the teenage years of learning an instrument. It is a transitory time during which students usually start to develop a sense of self-sufficiency, personality, style, and musical intuition key to the advanced levels of performance. It is also a period during which the development of a secure technical foundation is key.

 

Students may find that they have hit a 'wall' at this stage. Whereas up until this point progress may have been rapid and easy (some students are able to cruise on natural talent!), the demands of more complex pieces and greater technical challenges will naturally require more considered approaches which we work through together in lessons. We also examine ways in which students can best practise privately.

 

Repertoire that we may work on include Burgmüller's Études, Chopin's Preludes and other Romantic miniatures by Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Brahms, Mozart or Haydn extracts, J. S. Bach's Inventions, Bartók's Mikrokosmos, Einaudi selections, Ben Crosland's Cool Beans (Dreams, Themes and Love Songs), Maykapar's Pedal Preludes and Miniatures, and The Essential Jazz Collection, arranged by Richard Harris.

 

An important part of this stage is to encourage personal interpretation and self-sufficiency. A frequently-asked question begins to arise: 'what do you think'?

 
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ADVANCED

The stages beyond approximately grade 6 (including grade 8 and diplomas) is a challenging and exciting time. Students will be more self-sufficient and will, of course, need to commit more time to the musical and technical demands of their repertoire, but by now this will be coupled with a keenness and enjoyment that renders these challenges a source of enjoyment as opposed to a chore.

 

By this stage of learning I ensure that students have an appreciation of musical styles, genres, periods and their characteristics. In short, that they have an awareness of what is behind the notes that they are playing. I encourage them to make interpretative decisions based both on intuition and on reasoning. I also encourage their own musical personalities to come through and be used to their advantage.

 

The repertoire we are likely to explore at these stages include movements from Beethoven Sonatas, Liszt extracts, Scott Joplin Rags, Chopin Nocturnes and Waltzes, J. S. Bach's Preludes and Fugues, Brahms Intermezzi, Schubert's Moments Musicaux, Rachmaninov Preludes, and concerto extracts.

 

Looking beyond this to ARSM, DipABRSM, ATCL, or LTCL performance diplomas, we exploit the freedom offered by these syllabi by choosing repertoire best suited and of greatest interest to individual students.

 

THEORY & AURAL

I teach music theory to all of my piano students up to grade 5* and also aural up to grade 8 standard. I also offer theory-only or aural-only lessons to anybody wishing to improve these areas or prepare for an upcoming exam.

 

In my theory lessons I aim to teach in as little an abstract way as possible, relating the ideas on paper to actual sounds and pieces of music. I aim to ensure full understanding of all topics and, in preparation for exams, use practice papers purchased from the exam board to get a feel of the content and structure of the exams.

 

When preparing any student for the aural element of an upcoming exam, I ensure they are comfortable with both the format the exam will take and what the examiner's expectations will be. We undertake a number of practice exercises identical to the exam in order to strengthen students' responses and confidence and build on the technical terms they will be required to know. More often than not students are more competent and knowledegable than they realise!

 

*Any student wishing to take their music theory further (grades 6-8 are more composition-based) I pass on to my colleagues for more in-depth, specialised tuition.