Why I set up Emilyreedsmusic (Or a teacher’s response to every excuse in the book)

One of the biggest frustrations for any music teacher is DEFINITELY listening to the same excuses every single week!

  • “I didn’t have time to practise” (No time at all? Did you have time to watch TV? Did you have time to play video games? Could you have woken up 10 minutes earlier?)
  • “I had too much homework” (why don’t you think of music practice as part of your homework?)
  • “I lost my music” (hmmm… you seem to have found it in time for your lesson though… anyway there is plenty of other ways to practise if you have genuinely lost your music – blog to follow!)
  • “It was my birthday/ My friend came over/ My auntie came round for tea” (did that last the whole week?)
  • “I couldn’t remember how the piece goes”

Ah. There we go. That is definitely the one I have heard the most. That one there right at the bottom.

I couldn’t remember how the piece goes.

Now, no matter how hard we music teachers work at teaching children which note is which, and what the different rhythms look and sound like, the simple fact is that it IS actually pretty complicated learning an instrument. And even if you know that you are looking at a crotchet G or a semibreve C in THEORY, when you are trying to put everything together and remember which finger goes where and trying to keep a steady pulse, sometimes it is all just a bit fiddly.

(I think we forget that when we are teaching. Try learning to speak a new foreign language if you need a reminder of what it’s like to take in so much new information at once!)

Anyway, so what usually happens is…

  • My pupil will tell me they can’t remember the tune
  • I remind them how to work out note is which, how to work out the rhythm, etc
  • We hum it or sing it
  • And after a little bit of practice, we have made progress!

But with only one lesson a week, that progress can feel pretty slow. Especially when your student is constantly reminding you that the reason they started playing the saxophone is because they want to play the theme song from The Simpsons, which is definitely a long way off at the moment.

So I started looking online to see what help I could find. I figured there was really no excuse for forgetting how a piece goes if you can hear it whenever you want to. (As it happens, I have never heard this excuse used when we are learning how to play Jingle Bells or the theme tune from Eastenders)

And finally I hit the jackpot – people have been uploading videos of themselves practising for some of their grade exams on YouTube! But there were lots of flute and clarinet videos, and little to no double reed videos. And that’s a pretty big disadvantage for young oboists and bassoonists, especially when you consider that they are often the only one playing that instrument in their school orchestra or band as well, so they may not know anyone else who can help.

So that’s why I set up the Emilyreedsmusic channel on YouTube.