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Young musicians… advice for PARENTS

How much should a young musicians be practising on their new instrument?

We asked some of our SCMT tutors for their opinions… and here they are in brief.  Do you agree?

‘Little and often is key and the quicker you implement it, the more they’ll love to play their instrument.  Children will soon get bored if they’re not getting better!  You don’t want to be paying for someone to repeat what they said the week before, right?’  James

‘Based on a child aged 5 – 7 (complete beginner) I would say 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  After a month, make it 6… and increase by a minute each week.  Soon they’ll be practising for 15 mins each day.’  Lucy

‘Just a few minutes aa day at first.  Build it up gradually and they hardly notice.  It’s all about consistency.’  Leo

‘It’s really important that parents sit with young musicians, give them an incentive, praise them afterwards.  They do exactly that with work set from teachers at school… the same applies here.’  Amy

‘If they’re having a bad day, a tired day, a ‘lack of focus’ day… then keep things short, distracting, full of variety.’  Hannah

‘Expecting a child to engage and strive at something brand new without your input isn’t fair.  Ask yourself when you book the lessons, can I commit to their progress too?’  Lily

Visit us on instagram for more advice regarding young musicians on their journeys…



Coffee mug and napkin
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Susanna Cassam blog – listening to music at home. NEW…

Susanna Cassam blog.  NEW

Why is it so important to play music to your children at home?

It’s obvious really.  But sometimes we need reminding HOW important because in all the chaos of family life, we simply forget to press play… or at least forget to really appreciate the music.

These are the most important and benefits that should leave you running for a playlist:

CONNECTION – music at home envelopes you and you children in a bubble of joy

QUIETENING OF THE MIND – it stills them, and feeds their ability to be calm

DISTRACTION FROM STRUGGLES – an immediate solution, so add it to your parenting tools!

A CHANGE OF FOCUS – similar to the above, but great when they are holding on to a negative vibe at home

CREATING GOOD HABITS – they will carry it with them… ‘I remember we always had music on in the kitchen’ is a common one

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION – it can give children permission to unleash their true feelings, to be uplifted, or relax; to be their true selves

EDUCATION – listening to music ignites ALL AREAS of a child’s development (we’ll be looking at this more in the next post, but how amazing is that!)


‘Listening to music helps children UNDERSTAND music, gain opinions about music, crave more and more music!  They’ll discover what they love, what makes their heart sing, what keeps them calm, what inspires them, what intrigues them… and what they aspire to!  If children listen to enough different types of music on a regular basis, they will choose to learn an instrument and be motivated to constantly improve.  They will work hard to imitate those musicians they admire and they’ll also love the connection it brings to everyone at home.  Music brings a family together and wraps you all up in its comfort and energy.’

Susanna Cassam – from Susanna Cassam blog (NEW POST)

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Parents of young musicians (advice blog!)

We’re been spending some time thinking about how we can help you directly with championing your child as they learn and love their music.  We’ll be sharing our thoughts in a new blog offering advice to parents of young musicians …

Children are so, so different.  I didn’t realise quite how different until I had my own.  These differences affect the ways they learn best in every aspect of their lives, so helping them along the way as a parent is a challenge individual to you!  However, when it come to learning a musical instrument, there are many things you can do to ensure that they get the best out of their lessons, progress fast, want to practise at home, don’t lose interest… and enjoy themselves regardless of their strengths and challenges.  Music has an enormously positive impact on EVERY child and we can’t wait to help you access their enthusiasm when the tutor has left the room.  We’ll be looking at:

How much practise for my child, and when

How can I help to make practise fun?!

Encouraging a child to perform for others

The importance of listening to music at home

Music groups and orchestras for young children

Targeted help for children struggling

Music lessons for children with additional educational needs

Music exams… or not?  And if not, providing other incentives

Choosing exactly the right teacher for your child


We’ll be posting weekly, firstly focusing on The Importance of listening to music at home.

Please do keep checking in to read the latest from our new blog offering advice to parents of young musicians.

Susanna, head of school

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To buy or to hire a musical instrument?

To buy or to hire a musical instrument… that is the question 🤔

Frequently parents tell us that they would rather not invest in an instrument for their child before knowing if they’ll commit to their music lessons 👦❤️🎻

Will they enjoy it? Are they too young? How do you know you’re making the right decision at the right time?!


GOOD NEWS! Nowadays you can hire a beginner’s instrument in the short-term with an option to purchase afterwards (minus the money you’ve invested in rental). No pressure, no mammoth spend, no big decisions too early on 🙌

Our friends at Ackerman Music on Queens Road, Brighton and Portland Road, Hove are experts with all things hire/purchase. They have a huge range of instruments to fit all ages, sizes, budgets, timescales etc. If you visit them in-store they’ll help you choose and can also advise regarding cleaning, storing, insurance, makes & models (and noise reduction if that’s a concern 😂🥁🎺🎶)

To buy or to hire a musical instrument…


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Where to get piano lessons…

Where to get piano lessons.  Making the right choice for your child…

There are many considerations to take into account when wondering where to get piano lessons for your child.  Endless options too it would seem.  I personally have two sons aged five and seven and when it comes to reaching out and booking them into the care of a stranger, I feel like my list of queries and concerns is mind-boggling, especially at the moment.  But it needn’t be, you just need to know exactly what to ask.  Here are some pointers for you, I hope they help.  Remember, if you are enquiring directly to an established, experienced music teacher or school, they will know all the answers and re-assure you straight away.  They’ll be confident in their responses and understand your concerns as a parent:


The music teacher/school.  Their basic information and background:

Is there a landline number as well as a mobile?

Is there a local business address?

Is there someone named, that is running the organisation, that you can speak to directly over the phone if needed?

Do they have a long and reassuring history of testimonials online?

Are they highly recommended?

Are their claims backed up… exam passes, number of pupils etc?


Other than your obvious queries (…’do you have someone suitable, locally, with these days free’) ask the following of a school:

How much are the lessons, does it vary between tutors, instruments and areas?

Can I meet the tutor in person for a free trial before committing to anything?

Do your tutors have a music degree?

Are they ALL have grade 8 on their instruments?

Are they mentored in exam preparation for ABRSM and Trinity exam boards?

Do they offer additional services (concerts, written reports etc)?

Are your tutors’ lessons and teaching styles overseen and monitored?

Do you thoroughly vet the tutors and gain references?


And for individuals you come across:

How much are the lessons?

Can I meet you in person before committing?

Do you have a music degree?

Are you grade 8 on your instrument?

Do you have music theory qualifications?

How long have you been teaching for?

What is your experience of teaching children?

Are you trained in exam preparation for ABRSM and Trinity syllabuses?

Do you offer additional services (concerts, written reports etc)?

Do you have an enhanced, child workforce DBS and public liability insurance?


So, where to get piano lessons!  You may only have concerns regarding some of the above, but rest assured, any experienced, genuine teacher will be not only used to it, but flattered that you’ve asked, that you’re not a time-waster… and they’ll be eager to answer your questions in full.  You could call us to test us out!

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When to start piano lessons for a child

When to start piano lessons for a child.

It’s a question we are asked on a daily basis so we know how confusing the advice can be!  Children are so very different and so there isn’t a single answer.  However, there are some pointers that should help you decide whether your child is ready.  Most children can cope, concentrate and learn effectively during a 30 minute lesson at the piano by the time they are 5 years old.  Many children with a good attention span start when they are 4.  Children aged 3 sometimes can too if parents are keen to get going earlier than usual…  with a shorter lesson initially perhaps.  I personally have 2 children aged 5 and 6 and neither are ready yet.  One is particularly hyperactive and the other has ASD…  so it really does depend!

Once you have decided to try, there are various things you can do to maximise your child’s chances of success.  Chat to us on the phone in detail first and tell us everything you can that might be relevant.  This will ensure we pick the best tutor to suit and good rapport is essential!  From that point the teacher knows exactly how to grab their attention.  Games, visuals, rhythms, duets… and showcasing their own skills too, catapulting your child’s enthusiasm right from the start.  Variety is key for the little ones.

If you’re having lessons at home, make the space around the piano warm, bright and fun.  I remember a short period of time when I was young and my parents were refurbishing the family home.  My lessons and practise time were in a damp, dark corner and it was the only time in my life I didn’t want to learn.  Little things can make all the difference.

When to start piano lessons for a child… part 2

Next week we’ll be talking about the next steps; the first 5 to 10 lessons and how to maintain your child’s enthusiasm between lessons and encourage them to practise more.  In the meantime, please get in touch to chat through any queries you may have regarding whether your child is ready to try piano lessons.

Susanna, head of school

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Why is SCMT so highly recommended?! Susanna says…

SCMT music lessons are always tailored with enjoyment in mind.  Our teachers are here to engage and inspire your children, maximise their potential, prioritise progression and put them completely at ease…

Our tutors will always tailor the music lessons to suit your child, whether you want them to have a laid back hobby, pass exams as they come along… or win competition trophies! We have regular concerts that all children can play in.  These are massively popular with our young pupils and their proud parents.  We’ve also just launched our Youth Music Competitions (see more on the Concerts and Events page), adding yet another exciting annual event to our pupil’s music calendar.

Lessons last for 30 minutes, 45 minutes or an hour depending on your child’s age, ability and the instrument they are learning. Variety is key to enjoyment so music theory, flash cards, scales, duets, music listening, aural skills and composition are incorporated where relevant.  A commitment to maximising your child’s potential alongside engaging teaching methods will result in your child appreciating, understanding and most of all, enjoying the music they play.  Come and join us!

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News – new testimonials…

Have you seen our News – new testimonials for January 2018?!

We thought we’d take a moment to consider the joy, comfort, inspiration and enrichment music brings to the lives of EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING on the planet (including all of our young musicians of course).  We’re in a passionate mood this month, determined to spread the good news that learning a musical instrument will catapult you head-first into a new world of creativity and adventure.  There simply isn’t a downside, you just need a great teacher to guide you.

Take that vital step on behalf of your children and contact us today to arrange some music lessons.



Tom has been teaching Max (aged 8) piano for about three months and it’s going really well. Tom has found the perfect balance for Max – they cover an impressive amount of ground, but have a lot of fun at the same time. Tom is a great communicator – always positive and encouraging – and structures the sessions clearly which helps Max feel confident. He also gives clear instructions for practice, which really helps us to keep things going in between sessions. Our priority was for learning an instrument to be fun and not a chore, and Tom has definitely achieved that. Max is practising without complaint and loves to play us what he is learning, so I feel he is developing a strong foundation that he can build on as he grows older. Thank you Tom!’  From mum, Elly.


‘Over the years Richard has been hugely dedicated to helping Jude progress on the piano. He is currently at grade 6.  Richard is also always happy to accompany Jude on Violin for his grade exams which gives Jude greater confidence.  He recently achieved a distinction (140) in Grade 7 violin and I’m sure that was massively helped by Richard’s great piano playing and guidance during practice. 

He is always a patient, kind and inspiring teacher who delivers criticism very constructively. He is meticulous in how he teaches, ensuring Jude doesn’t run before he can walk or pick up bad habits.  He is usually always on time and often generously stays beyond his allotted 45 mins if needed.

The rapport between Richard and Jude  is great. I often hear them laughing, rapping and exchanging ideas and musical references.  Lessons have been going every week during term time for many years now so it’s been really consistent.  Richard is really friendly, personable and always polite. Moreover, he is a talented and intelligent musician.

We have loved having him as Jude’s piano teacher and consider him a friend (Richard has joined us for concerts or dinner from time to time). He also composes which Jude’s father does for a living so this ties in with a broader interest Jude and Richard share. 

Richard is a big part of Jude’s success so far as musician so we’d like to thank him for all his help over the years.’  From mum, Lou S.


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The benefits of learning a musical instrument…

The benefits of learning a musical instrument…

We’ve collated at little list this morning of some of the proven benefits of a child learning a musical instrument. The facts are mind-blowing! Have a look and then ask yourself why you’ve not booked their lessons yet…  can you think of any more?



Listening skills


Self esteem

Speech and language

Problem solving


Artistic skills

Maths skills

Time management

Attention span

Longterm memory

Self motivation

Self discipline

Anxiety management

Self analysis


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Music performance – coping with your nerves…

Music performance – coping with your nerves…

Pre-performance nerves are extremely common, even among professional performers. Most of us will have experienced a dry mouth, sweaty hands, the shakes or even butterflies in the stomach – none of which are obviously helpful as a musician. If controlled effectively, however, these feelings and sense of alertness can actually help to give a performance the edge!

Whether it be an exam or a concert performance, performing in front of other people before the big day (even if it’s just your close family/friends) is one of the best ways of ensuring you are ready and relaxed about how the day will go.

Here are some other of ABRSM’s top tips for students and candidates to help you cope with performance anxiety and turn feelings of nervousness to your advantage.  Click on the link for more detail.  They have numerous pages of tips and advice for all ages and abilities of musician looking forward to an exam or concert performance:

Keep fit.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

Visualise success

Practise performing in front of friends and family

Controlled breathing


Concentrate on the music

Don’t worry about mistakes


ABRSM exams run three times a year.  They are the benchmark of progression for most of our musicians that are keen to work within a graded system.

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Piano lessons for children…

PIANO LESSONS FOR CHILDREN.  Music, in all its glorious diversity, enhances our lives, helps us express ourselves and opens our minds to numerous dreams and possibilities. No-one should be without it… and the lucky ones get to create and perform it themselves.

Everyone has music inside them, alongside the desire to listen and be inspired. If you ‘discover’ music when you are very young, you’ll learn faster. You’ll certainly grow up to be more creative… and it’s very likely you’ll follow a musical path through your youth and beyond. I was brought up in a very musical environment, and was frequently surprised at school by how much I naturally understood about music without ever actually being told. So listening to music is important, now how about playing the music yourself…

The instrument you choose to play as a young beginner is crucial to enjoyment and being a Pianist myself I am arguably biased, but I’ve seen the piano being used as a platform for all kinds of musical adventures, in private and public environments alike.

With a combination of fun lessons, a talented and inspiring tutor, plenty of variety and some practise on the side, a child can learn to play the piano from as young as 4 years old and progress effectively. There are numerous benefits: You can play straight away, you can learn virtually any style or genre, you need no accompaniment and yet at the same time the instrument is big enough for a parent or teacher to play alongside. Additionally, many children begin music lessons at the piano and then add other instruments to their skills base, having gained a thorough understanding of different musical styles, how music works… and how to make the most of it. Add to that a boosted self esteem, new-found confidence and ‘musician status’ in the playground.

Why not find out for yourself if it’s true. Unleash that musician waiting to jump out of your child, and see how quickly they progress. In fact, pull up a chair, join in, and see how addictive it can be. You might even find you want lessons yourself!

Piano lessons for children.  Find out more…

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When you’re reminded how amazing your team is: March 2016


We asked our clients for feedback about their music teachers last week… and here’s what they said.  Thank you to all of our tutors for their total dedication to the cause, especially Clare, James, Rich, Priya, Jinny, Rosanna, Zara, Annalies, Jonathan, Vicky, Philip and Adrian… who have all been specifically targeted for high praise!!!


Alison (parent)

We have two tutors from SCMT – Clare for piano and James for Guitar.  Both are excellent, highly expert and very passionate about the instruments they teach. They have engaged and inspired our children to want to do more with music.  Clare has particularly progressed both children on the piano in so far as grades are concerned and momentum is building on the guitar.  We are very happy indeed.



I feel very lucky to have Richard as my tutor. His enthusiasm, patience and knowledge have really improved my understanding in Music. I always feel inspired and motivated after every lesson and hope to continue them long into the future. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.

Dedication to a pupil’s progress on their instrument – Brilliant

Inspired and engaging teaching methods – Very much so

Good time keeping – Yes

Good rapport with pupils – Yes

Regularity of lessons – Able to fit around me

Friendly, polite, professional attitude – Absolutely

‘Variety’ during a lesson (for example sight-reading, theory, scales, pieces, composition) – Great


Jenny (parent)

Feedback for Jinny (violin) and Priya (flute and piano).  They’re both excellent, knowledgeable and professional and we’ve never had a single issue with either of them.

Jinny is an excellent instructor who is not only extremely talented but also warm and engaging, and I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve made on the violin in such a short time.  I would recommend her to anyone.  10/10 in all areas.

Priya is a dedicated teacher who has helped my daughter progress in leaps and bounds on both the flute and piano. She clearly works well with children, keeping them engaged and helping them learn with fun, age-appropriate lessons. I have complete confidence that she’ll bring out my daughter’s full potential.  10/10 in all areas. 


Marion (parent)

We are really delighted with Rosanna.  She is lovely, patient and conscientious, and Becca enjoys her lessons.  She brings new pieces to play and adapts her methods to Becca’s needs. She teaches her useful mnemonics to help her learn the tricky bits!  She is punctual and reliable and recently supported Becca through her grade 2 exam.  Rosanna is also flexible with times, which is really helpful for us.


Louise  (parent)

Olivia (13) really loves her singing lessons with Zara.  She has learnt a huge amount and is gaining confidence all the time.  Zara and Olivia decide on the songs to work on together and the lessons are always engaging and varied. She learns different songs and has done some song-writing and quite a bit of recording. Zara has a really lovely manner and a great rapport with Olivia. The lessons are every Wednesday.  From my point of view, Zara is an excellent teacher.  She and Olivia are recording songs and she often sends me the recordings, which is lovely.  She is very professional in the billing etc.


Dinah (parent)

Annalise is a fantastic, enthusiastic teacher and we are very fond of her – she hits all those points you raised with ease.


Gemma (parent)

Jonathan is a great teacher.  Ned has made really good progress since he started lessons with Jonathan and has been much more motivated to practice (which he normally does for 15 mins a day without needing to be nagged).  This is a real turning point as the whole ‘practice’ issue used to be a bit stressful. He also helped and advised us when we needed to upgrade Ned’s instrument.  Jonathan is extremely punctual, reliable but also flexible and very considerate. Ned is really happy with his lessons, he has great respect for Jonathan who encourages but also challenges him.


Marion (parent)

Bobby has Vicky as his saxophone tutor, and enjoys his lessons. She has been really fantastic and has encouraged him every step of the way. She has been really flexible when he has had other after school commitments and been so patient with him (teenage boy….need I say more?).  Vicky has encouraged him with solo and group playing and made the music interesting and enjoyable, and has been an important person in his development. She has even come to watch when he has played saxophone in some school productions.  She has always been totally professional and reliable and she keeps us informed of his progress.

She is currently encouraging him towards his grade 8 exam, and I think she has been an inspiration to him.


Corinna (parent)

My son is still having lessons with Phillip. He is happy with the teaching and Phillip is good at encouraging him and has even got to him to write some of his own music. He has always been punctual and is friendly and polite.



Thank you for sending through the video from the Christmas concert. My singing teacher is Adrian.

Dedication to a pupil’s progress on their instrument – Adrian is a very dedicated tutor who pushes me in a positive way to improve.

Inspired and engaging teaching methods – Adrian will always teach me good warm up exercises and good methods on how to reach higher notes, or on how to sing certain words in order for it to sound better.

Good time keeping – excellent time keeping.

Good rapport with pupils – very good.

Regularity of lessons – yes, very good.

Friendly, polite, professional attitude – Adrian is very polite and friendly.

‘Variety’ during a lesson (for example sight-reading, theory, scales, pieces, composition) – Adrian makes every lesson fun and he will vary the type of songs I sing.


Vanessa (parent)

Olivia has piano lessons with Jonathan.  We are absolutely delighted with him.  He is helpful if we need to alter lessons, is either on time or early… and great with her.  Olivia has gone from basic pieces, self taught, when he started with her to now playing chords and much more complex pieces, in which I feel is a very short space of time.  She always enjoys her lessons and he is able to teach her using music that is in the charts now as well as classic pieces, so he is able to work with her on her level.


Elena (parent)

Adam continues to progress well with electric guitar lessons. James has all the traits you mentioned in your mail and we have never had a problem with him. Highly recommended.


Karveen (parent)

Dedication to a pupil’s progress on their instrument:  We are very happy with Priya’s dedication, support and teaching of India and really do feel she cares about her and her progress.

Inspired and engaging teaching methods:  Priya uses technology and apps to help India learn and entice her to sustain interest and we find this very innovative. She also writes clear and precise notes for homework on a wipe board and in her book.

Good time keeping:

Priya is always punctual

Good rapport with pupils:

India loves being taught by Priya and looks to her like an older (very strict) sister.  She seeks to impress her and is disappointed with herself when Priya is disappointed with her progress.

Regularity of lessons:  Weekly

Friendly, polite, professional attitude:  Very

‘Variety’ during a lesson (for example sight-reading, theory, scales, pieces, composition):

Priya ensures India makes progress on all the dimensions for her grading


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Practice makes perfect… (thoughts from Susanna)


When young children begin to learn a musical instrument, there is a question on the tip of every parent’s tongue…

‘How much practice should my child be doing… And how can I help to ensure that they do it?’

If a child is to progress on a musical instrument, regular practice needs to be encouraged right from the start and a teacher will generally set practice each lesson (only a tiny bit for very young children). Generally speaking great things occur if a family member regularly guides a child in their practice, offering encouragement and praise.   So, I’ve come up with some tried and tested tips and tricks to help you out, whether you are planning to sit down with your child, or encourage from afar:


Establish a set time for practice each day that doesn’t clash with other distraction. Make sure your child is alert and doesn’t have too many other things to think about (football to follow, just back from swimming).

Have a plan in place before you start, so that when your child is in the ‘practice zone’, it is focused and moving forward… this keeps them on the ball.

If there is more than one thing to practice, divide the time into bite-sized chunks of only a few minutes, so that practice is fresh and ever changing.

Occasionally, select a small section of music and work on it thoroughly in one practice session, your child will see a more marked improvement and be encouraged.

Often a child may become frustrated if they can’t play things straight away. Slow right down for practice, only playing something ‘at speed’ once the notes are mastered… that way mistakes are fewer and tasks more manageable.

Arrange ‘performance time’ in the home for a few weeks time. Choose a piece or exercise that your child can demonstrate for the family… And applaud loudly on the day. This one works every time!

When relevant, discuss opportunities with your child’s teacher with regards to small public performances, assessments and exams. The satisfaction of achievement will power them forward.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, INCENTIVES… a parent’s best friend. Get stuck in straight away with a nice big, bright practice chart. Award stickers (your teacher will lend you plenty!) for targets achieved… perhaps extra stickers or a small prize if practice has occurred every day.


If a teacher has a fun, engaging manner alongside a structured approach to achievement, then the battle if half won. A child learning music with a good teacher will automatically be motivated to acquire the skills, understanding and ability required to enable them to enjoy music through playing and listening. However, you can help too by actively encouraging them at the start of their musical adventure… It really is a gift to last a lifetime.

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Music for a lifetime… By Susanna Cassam.

imagesI’m often asked when is the best time for a child to start learning a musical instrument. It can depend on a variety of factors, but it’s easy once you’ve asked the question to find out if your bundle of joy is ready to ‘make some noise’. The most important thing is that children are given the opportunity to try it out, as from that point you can decide whether they’re ready to go ahead right away.

It can depend on the teaching style they are offered. Some teachers might insist on a certain level of concentration, knowledge of the alphabet, an ability to focus for 30 minutes… and persevere. Others would be perfectly happy for a child to discover the sounds and wonders of the instrument in their hands with no pressure to progress until they naturally pursue improvement. As long as no bad habits are formed and the teacher is actively accompanying the sounds with their own rhythm and melody, a good ear for music can evolve quite quickly… way before solo instrumental skills are ‘performance worthy’. Playing music together works wonders.

The relevant age to start can also depend on the technical difficulty of an instrument. Some need hands of a certain size, some require two hands learning entirely different skills. Others require big lungs or strong arms. Very young children have also not necessarily learned to persevere and thus assume skills come easily. Without necessary explanation beforehand, this can lead to frustration on instruments that take more time to grasp.

The piano, much like other keyboard instruments, gives itself over in a musical sense almost immediately, making it very appealing to very young children. Tunes that they know can be learned on one hand. It has a large, accessible keyboard and a loud familiar sound. They will often experiment with confidence where with other instruments they’d be too shy. This is because almost all children regularly see a piano played by friends, family members or by a teacher in the school hall. Perhaps this explains why they often turn to it first… 80% of our enquiries for lessons are from parents of children wishing to learn the piano.

If you’re not sure whether your child is too young to start, just ask a recommended teacher. Trial a lesson and make sure the teacher knows all about your child’s musical likes, dislikes, personality traits and other interests. You’d be amazed how important it is for a teacher to build a rapport from the first ‘hello’. If a child thinks they’ve found a friend in their teacher, someone they have things in common with, they’ll be more enthused, more confident, more eager to explore the sounds at their fingertips.

It’s very important to remember is that even when your child is too young to learn an instrument they can still listen, enjoy, tap a beat and sing along. Immerse them in music whenever you can, from the minute they react with a smile to the sounds. They’ll learn all about pitch, rhythm, what they like, how it makes them feel and probably which instruments they’d love to learn… before you even ask! You’ll have given them a thirst for music that will last them a lifetime.

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Thoughts from Susanna this month…

Next Month, we’ll be holding another run of children’s concerts to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! I know from experience that although most of our performers will arrive on stage looking very small… they will leave having made a very big impression. Some will shuffle to the front nervous of the crowd whilst others will virtually trip over their own feet desperate to show off their skills. Some will dress as though they’re expecting to be knighted, others might literally try to skateboard up the Isle. In every case they will have, by the end of the afternoon, either played for the first time in public or played something that a year ago was way beyond their capability. So everyone achieves something big.   The teachers will be there, encouraging their pupils, settling nerves. The parents will be there, holding their cameras aloft, clapping and cheering after their child’s performance.

It is in the weeks before a concert that every music teacher notices a marked acceleration in a pupil’s progress. It’s no wonder, they are playing their instrument more than they are playing on the ipad! Parents tend to become more involved, encouraging extra practise before or after school. The practise charts suddenly re-appear, covered in stickers awarded for all the hard work. When the teacher arrives for the lesson, they are bombarded with details of the levels of practise down to the last second. ‘I did 12 and a half minutes before my bath Susanna! I did my scales and I don’t even need them for the concert!’

You may think an upcoming performance would be a time for a child to feel pressure and nerves, but if the teacher applies generous amounts of encouragement, praise and structure in equal proportions, it is the very time everyone is enjoying their music the most.

Music concerts offer so much variety too. Siblings, friends and family often play duets or in small ensembles and many of the teachers arrive at the front with their instruments too… something which is often the key to encouraging the very small ones onto the stage for their first public recital. It’s much harder to go it alone so these collaborations are greatly encouraged.

Nothing works better as an incentive when it comes to learning a musical instrument, than the chance to perform together… and it’s only since writing this article that my mind has started to race with regards to sibling duets for my own children in the future (a little premature perhaps?). Aha, if only they knew…

Hooray for the little ones playing their tunes!

Susanna's blog

Thoughts from Susanna this month…

Happy New Year! Congratulations are in order, Susanna had a beautiful baby boy named Arlo over the Christmas holiday and I am pleased to report both mother and baby are doing very well. Big Congratulations to Susanna and family, what a wonderful way to start 2015! Here at SCMT even with Susanna on maternity leave we still have plenty to look forward to in the coming year and it will still be business as usual but with me, Nicky, at the end of the phone or email if you need to get in touch with us about anything at all.

Music exams are set to take place in March, we often have exam blogs up on our website, so please keep an eye on it for up to date exam info, practice and preparation tips and tips for the exam day itself.

We are launching a new photo competition this month. We are looking for the best musical photo of our students. It can be the student on their own or with their tutor/sibling/parent. First prize is £50, second prize is £25 and third prize is £10, we will announce the winner on the 1ST March. Send your entries to [email protected]. Please be aware that upon sending photos in reply, we will assume your permission to use them on our website and social media marketing. We can’t wait to see your pictures!

Here at SCMT we have a brilliant relationship with local music shop Ackerman Music. So good in fact our tutors receive a 15% discount on all books bought there. So if you need any music please let your tutor know and they will be able to buy the books on your behalf in order to get a discount. Please note, the discount is only for our tutors and only applies to music books, not hire or purchase of instruments.

Don’t forget we have a great recommend a friend scheme, if you recommend a friend to us after their first 4 paid lessons you will receive £10 Ackerman voucher. So don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any friends looking to start up music lessons.

Phew, lots to look forward to for this coming term and as always if you have any queries or feedback do get in contact with us straight away.

Susanna's blog

Some thoughts from Susanna this November….

Did you know that the 6th November saw the birthdays of two very influential figures in the musical instrument world? Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone and John Philip Sousa, inventor of the sousaphone were both born on this day. Musical instruments have evolved over hundreds of years and we are now at a stage where we have so many to choose from. But how do we know which instrument is the right one for us, or our child?

Many of our potential pupils already know which instrument they would like to start when first calling us, as they have seen them played before or heard them on the radio or recordings… or it may be a family tradition. Whatever the instrument, we can help put them in contact with a suitable tutor straight away. There is a possibility that they may find they don’t get on with their chosen instrument, in which case we can discuss other options and help them come to a decision.

Others love music but simply have no idea where to start. Fear not, this is where we can also help. We can chat through all the instrument and tutor options over the phone or send out some detailed information by email to be mulled over.

Why don’t we make November the month to explore the different musical instruments out there… we certainly will be here at SCMT.  Keep an eye on our blogs and social media site  (you can keep up to date on all SCMT news here: for information about all of the musical instruments, you never know, you might find just the one for you.


Susanna's blog

Some thoughts from Susanna this October…

This month we’re celebrating the great institution that is ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). I’m sure many of our students will be familiar with them as they are the main exam board that we use for graded music exams (practical and theory).  SCMT enters over 100 of our students into these exams every year.

This year ABRSM is celebrating 125 years of music exams. In recognition of this, throughout October, we will be featuring this exam board in depth. But are exams an important part of learning a musical instrument or do we put too much emphasis on musical grading?

The answer to this lies with the student. The good thing about sitting exams is it gives the student motivation to practice, and therefore progress faster. The ABRSM exams consist of 4 parts. You must learn 3 pieces of music from the syllabus and be able to play all the way through without mistakes. You must learn a set of scales outlined in the syllabus, a section of sight-reading (playing a short extract of music unseen beforehand) and a listening test. This involves timing, singing and general ear training. All of these subject areas must be mastered in order to become a good musician. So with the help and motivation of the graded exams, teachers can produce well rounded, confident students.

There is of course another side to this as there are students who do not work well under pressure… as we all know exams aren’t for everyone! But even without sitting exams, the ABRSM exam syllabus can still be followed in it’s various parts, used as a tool… and you can then be assured all subject areas are covered within your learning.

Most universities and other advanced musical positions require an ABRSM grade 8 exam certificate. They have set the musical standard across the world, so although they may not be for everyone the reputation they hold within musical examinations is second to none. I can highly recommend ABRSM exams to all of our students!  For more information on the exams please feel free to contact me direct or talk to your tutor.

Susanna's blog

Some thoughts from Susanna this August…

Every month SCMT pick a composer or musician to feature, but this month we are taking a slightly different angle. Over the last couple of weeks we have had 16 new music teachers come on board with us. So this month we will be featuring our new teachers!

Whether you are a parent of a young child wanting to start an instrument, a parent of a child wanting to change teachers or you yourself want to start learning it is vital to make sure you find the right tutor for your needs. Here at SCMT we make sure that all of our teachers are fully vetted, qualified and hold an up to date DBS (CRB). Before taking in a tutor they are interviewed by myself, therefore I know their musical upbringing, genres of music they specialise in, their teaching styles and much more. So when chatting through the sort of lessons you are after I can personally match you with the most suitable music teacher.

So please keep your eye on our latest news feed over the coming weeks, we will be featuring each new tutor in depth. We also have all our teachers, old and new, on our music teachers page. Whether you want, piano lessons, singing lessons, violin lessons or any other instrument, you can find detailed information on our teachers, to make you feel more comfortable when booking your first lesson.

Susanna's blog

Some thoughts from Susanna this July…

This month SCMT are going back to the classical world and will be featuring Igor Stravinsky. A Russian composer, born in 1882, Stravinsky played a huge role in the development of 20th Century music.

The great thing about Stravinsky was that he didn’t stick to one genre through his career. His first big break as a composer was writing scores for the Ballet. He then moved on to a neo classical period, where he wrote music using ideas of classical composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and exploring them through his own composition. He then moved on to a more serial approach, where he was composing music using techniques and sounds never heard before. In his later life Stravinsky even turned his hand at composing for Hollywood films.

Such a broad array of musical styles and genres gets me to thinking how often do we, as musicians, explore other areas of music that may take us out of our comfort zone. We all have that safe place, some of us are more comfortable with a Mozart concerto, or maybe a Bach study. Then there are some of us that could think of nothing worse than being stuck in a strict structure and rather play the Blues or more popular music. Either way why don’t we make July the month we explore something new. There are so many different musical genres, that is what is so fantastic about this broad ranging subject. Ask your teacher to find something that puts you out of your musical comfort zone and start exploring the possibilities…