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By Rhys Lett

What We Teach 2019 – Week One

I asked the Eastern Suburbs School of Music what they showed students during their first week of lessons for our What We Teach 2019 series. There is a wonderful variety of skill sets possessed by the teachers of our school. Take a look inside the classroom as they explain what they achieved in week one.

Rhys Lett – Guitar/Bass/Banjo/Ukulele/Piano – What We Teach 2019

Beginner guitar students were introduced to string numbers, frets and how to read guitar tab. Using this information they began to learn “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream.

Ukulele students used the chords they previously knew to play “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith and “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. The challenge is to change chords without stopping. These songs both have chord patterns that repeat. Therefore they are excellent to practice this skill.

My piano students continued our work from last year in memorising chords and note positions. We also began working on rhythm elements and how to hear them as we read music. We applied this information when playing the song “The Sweetest Thing” by U2.

My bass students selected some Australian classics this week. We learned the Dragon song “Still in Love With You“. See my lesson for this song below.

Luke Shore – Drums – What We Teach 2019

I have been working on songs with students such as “Hardest Button to Button” by The White Stripes, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, and “Asphyxia” by AmaLee. With younger students have been working on ‘ta, titi, tika tika’ rhythms and playing Simon Says for drums. This game is great for helping students learn parts of the drum kit and memorise rhythm pattern names.

David Hartney – Guitar, Singing, Piano, Ukulele – What We Teach 2019

To the guitar students I’m teaching beginners the ‘G’ chord and then showing them the chord changes for “Paradise City” because you can alter the ‘G’ chord shape to make two other chords. For more advanced students I’ve been teaching string bends. This means ‘must know’ guitar solos can start to sound cooler. Everything from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and all blues songs sound great once you’ve mastered your bending techniques.

On ukulele, I’ve been teaching how to put string mutes (also called percussive muting) into strum patterns. Once students have the right ‘clicking’ sound they can place them throughout many of the different strumming patterns. It adds an extra ‘rhythmic dimension to any song and is an easily recognisable ukulele technique.

Singing lessons we’ve concentrated on relaxed larynx warm up exercises. This strengthens the voice to keep a rich tone. This is done by lowering the larynx. It’s very important for voice maintenance and the development of vocal strength.

Bass players learned a bass line from Paul McCartney‘s live version of “The End”. It has a lot of chromatic notes so it’s a good work out for all four fretting hand fingers over the first four frets.

On piano “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been popular since the Queen movie released late last year. We use the sustain pedal and practice crossing the left hand over the right to hit two high notes. It’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Alex Gooding – Drums – What We Teach 2019

First week back I’ve been going back over the basics to ease into the term, as well as picking some songs to start working on with all my students. A favourite so far has been “Sunflower” by Post Malone.

Elzna Mynhardt – Piano, Singing, Violin – What We Teach 2019

First week back we had a bit off a look back to see if we still remember everything from last year.  We talked about composition, specifically how to put musical sentences together.  Some of the students experimented with rhythm patterns.  A Star is Born’s music was a hit this week with all the singing students.  

Heather Chapman – Piano, Singing – What We Teach 2019

My piano students that were starting from scratch were playing their first piece (Ode to Joy) by the end of the lesson. This song is great for establishing hand position and strength to play piano. Singing students learned new speech level singing techniques to strengthen and increase their range. 

Sarah Garth – Guitar – What We Teach 2019

I’ve been teaching a range of songs including Post Malone’s “I Fall Apart” and Dean Lewis’s “Waves”. Doing so has proved to me again that the guitar is so versatile and suits almost any genre of music. I’m also helping my students to learn the notes on the fretboard. In short, it’s really useful for music theory and more in the long run!

Madeleine Chiodo – Guitar/Piano/Ukulele – What We Teach 2019

I taught my students “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen to increase their abilities in the fingerpicking style as well as an introduction to compound time signatures such as 6/8. I’ve also taught them “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. The opening riff is familiar to most people. Above all, it’s a great why to practice simple picking techniques.

Sunny Fischer – Piano – What We Teach 2019

Many early learners always love to choose “Fur Elise“. Students enjoy the melody which is great for strengthening the weak fingers. Also, the main part is good for introducing wide spacing in the left hand.
Say Something” is great for learning more tricky rhythms, and the chords to “Let It Be” are good for introducing chord progressions.