Philippa Topham
About Philippa

 
 
 
NEWS FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS

Prizes 2018 - 2019

I award small prizes once a year for the most number of mentions on this website for particularly impressive or pleasing playing.  There is one prize for each of primary, secondary, and adult age groups.  I wonder who will win them this year!

But also to add that ALL my students are hard-working and a real pleasure to teach - I feel very lucky to have a job that doesn't feel like a job!

Mini-Concerts
We will enjoy working towards these short performances in the last 10 minutes of the last lesson of each term.  

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!
Huge Congratulations to Zoe for gaining a Distinction in her Grade 6 ABRSM exam - a well-deserved result!
And Enormous Congratulations to Claire for a whopping 146/150 in Grade 4 ABRSM jazz exam, with full marks in two pieces, and one off full marks in the third - what a brilliant result!
And Huge Congratulations to Charlotte for a Distinction in her Trinity Initial Piano exam - all the hard work paid off!
And yet more Congratulations to Barney for a Distinction in his Trinity Initial Piano exam - the result of very focused work.
WELL DONE to all.



Rewards

How many points have you got - will you be throwing the Dice this week? Reward number 1 is teaching me to floss, so work out how to teach this dance in easy stages please!!



Olympic Games!

I find it amazing that a total of 234 points were awarded, showing that 234 pieces have been finished by 36 students in just 8 weeks!!  Well Done everyone!

Birthdays in April

None of my students have birthdays in April!




Super Musicians of the Week: 25.3.19

David for a super Twinkle Twinkle.
Ella for excellent pedalling and brilliant progress in only 11 lessons.
Giuliana for learning Raccoon's Lullaby in one lesson..
Marek for teaching himself Happy Birthday by ear.
Rocca for Monsieur Mouse at 85% speed and excellent practice on all items.
Tau for a super Let It Be.



Super Musicians of the Week: 1.4.19

David for excellent practice on all items.
Ellie for a beautiful Walking in the Air.
Giuliana for super practice.
Pollen for great practice on two pieces this week.
Rocco for super practice.
Tau for a really good start to improvising with chords.
Therese for a super You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.








THE FOUR STAGES OF LEARNING A SKILL

1. UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE
The individual is blissfully ignorant!  They have no idea what they don't know!
2. CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE
The individual realises there is much to be learnt.
3. CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE.
The individual understands how to do something.  However, this takes heavy conscious concentration.
4. UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that is has become second nature and can be performed easily and effortlessly.


PRACTICE MATRIX - which quadrant are you in?

 

Practice

  Lack of practice                                Lack of practice

Supported
by parents

1

Fastest possible progress

2

Slow progress

No support

3

Reasonable progress (rare)

4

No progress


Helpful hints for Parents 

Reassure your son or daughter that it is so valuable to have quiet time on your own to concentrate on doing something to the very best of your ability.

Even the most motivated talented young musicians sometimes need encouragement to practise especially if there is something good on the telly or a computer game waiting.  You might like to try restricting these to weekends only if all homework and practice are done first!

Please ensure there is always a pencil and rubber on the piano.  Encourage use of them to mark tricky points which need extra attention, if we haven't already!

Here is a rather endearing old cartoon called Sparky's Magic Piano with a message bigger than just doing your piano practice:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiY4bLQqsl4


Ensure your son/daughter can practice in a room free of distractions such as TV, computer or siblings.

Do check the notebook as soon as possible after the lesson to avoid a week slipping by without supporting your child.

Stick the Checklist on the piano to encourage independent learning.

Either mark all old books with stickers for favourite pieces or photocopy them for a ring binder, so they are easy to find.  Encourage playing these from time to time to really enjoy playing pieces one already knows well.

Arrange to have a family song song with all the Christmas carols.

Listen to some lovely music for winter:
Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Sinfonia Antarctica by Vaughan Williams
The Skaters' Waltz by Waldteufel
The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov

Keep watch over your child's posture: one's head weighs about 10 pounds so it needs to be kept over the spine to avoid putting a strain on the neck.  Think of a string pulling the head up to the ceiling.

Keep in mind my ultimate goal - to foster a life long love of music.  I aim to furnish each student with the tools to read whatever music they like, and a repertoire of beautiful pieces to play for the rest of their lives.

Mistakes can take place through tension, so sometimes it is necessary to lighten up and have a joke.

One test as to whether a piece is 'finished' or not is whether the performer looks relaxed while playing.

Let your son/daughter hear you saying something lovely about their playing to someone else once in a while.

Patience and perseverance are just two of the skills one learns through playing an instrument


Encourage time in the week to play favourite pieces - after all that is why one is learning to play!

Encourage singing as you play - either out loud or in your head.  All good musicians are singing inside as they play.



Practising tips

Try using a dice to determine how many times you should practice your difficult sections.

If something goes wrong when you are practising - stop and think about it.  What exactly went wrong - which bar, which hand, which beat, which note?  Why did it happen - accuracy, fingering, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, balance??


Use a metronome to diagnose your tricky spots.  Then slow it down further.  Good musicians always practice slowly, carefully and consciously.  How slow can you play?

When playing the piano we are aiming for a state of 'flow' - complete absorption in a task, to the point of not being aware of time passing.

There are roughly 10,000 minutes in between lessons so no excuses for not practising!!

Enjoy playing your really easy pieces from time to time - to see how easy they are and notice how far you have come.

To make the most progress have the discipline of practising every day - on busy days fit in 5 or 10  minutes in between other things.  On tired days do a normal amount, but maybe make it more mechanical practice to train the fingers.

When practising performing don't be distracted by little slips - don't waste brain power on what just happened - think forwards always.

DO use a pencil or stickers to highlight areas for special attention.  Spotting your own mistakes is half the battle!

Always have the notebook open when you practice.  Know what you are aiming to improve in each piece.

Practise being your own teacher using my checklist to take yourself forward.

Don't waste valuable brain power on getting frustrated.  Keep calm and play more slowly.

When performing show your enjoyment through your facial expression and body language.

Either mark all old books with stickers for favourite pieces or photocopy them for a ring binder, so they are easy to find.  Play playing these from time to time to really enjoy playing pieces you already know well.


Enjoy playing your Christmas carols by the light of the Christmas tree.

If rhythm is a problem then tap the rhythm on your legs first until secure and easy.


Aim to get into the anticipation zone - where you are constantly thinking ahead to prepare the fingers into the next position before they are needed.

Do give your relatives a concert by Skype or FaceTime



Every so often STOP playing in the middle of a piece and check you have relaxed wrists, arms, shoulders and neck.

One of the signs of a real musician is a person who cannot resist playing all the other pieces in their books.

Repeat tricky bits at all octaves on the piano.

The music notation and a pencil go hand in hand.  Never practise without a pencil when playing from the score.


Have an after-lesson check - what am I supposed to be practising in each piece?Then have a Pre-lesson check, 2 days before your lesson - have I done what I was supposed to do?


Small, small sections at least 3 times, gradually extending to larger sections - the most efficient way to practice. The brain can then remember what it needs to remember!



Former students

Most students have made music an important part of their lives and many have gone on to musical careers.  Tala Badri has opened her own highly successful music school in Dubai - the Centre for Musical Arts.  Check it out on www.cmadubai.com.  Mehernaz Pardiwalla leads her own music department in New Zealand and has won many competitions with her excellent choir.  Here she is conducting: https://youtu.be/QKlzCrgb8kI
Olivia now works at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Record holders

Alice who had lessons for 12 consecutive years, and then sadly went away to University.

Caragh holds the record for ABRSM piano and flute exams with 142/150 at Grade 1 and 139/150 at Grade 6.
Claire is the record-holder for ABRSM jazz exams with 146/150 at Grade 4.
Alice holds the record for ABRSM theory exams with 100% at Grade 1.
Alice and Zoe jointly hold the record for Grade 5 theory with 97%.
Mehernaz holds the record for Trinity exams in both piano and flute with 91% at Grade 4 and 88% at Grade 7.
Philippa holds the record for LCM exams with 98% at Grade 8.
Tom is the record-holder for LCM jazz exams with 89% at Grade 3.
Finbarr holds the record for Rockschool exams with 91% at Grade 1.
Zoe holds the record for Rock & Pop exams with 88% at Grade 1.
Claire and Jo hold the record for Dip ABRSM with Distinction for the Teaching Diploma.
Simon holds the record for LTCL Flute Performance with 86%.
All Distinctions!
Not one student has failed an exam!


Workshop on piano adventures at cma dubai


Students on CT ABRSM Plus course Singapore



 

Seminar for teachers at CMA Dubai





Examining trip to Hong Kong




Concert at St Bride's, London





Motivating Musical Achievement, ABRSM Teachers' workshop in Cyprus

 

 

USEFUL LINKS

 


ABRSM SPEEDSHIFTER



ON-LINE AURAL TESTS FOR ABRSM EXAMS




FUN GAMES



JAZZ PLAYING



MORE FUN GAMES AND QUIZZES



FLASH CARDS YOU CAN PRINT YOURSELF



MUSIC QUIZZES



8 NOTES



NAME THAT NOTE



LOTS OF MUSICAL LINKS



ON-LINE AURAL LESTS



FUN MUSIC THEORY GAMES



METRONOME ON YOUR COMPUTER



INCORPORATED SOCIETY OF MUSICANS

 

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