Hilary Crawford Teaching

What Is The Single Most Important Word To Describe A Piano Diploma Course?

February 3, 2016 | News | by Hilary

MHilary Crawford Teachingay I first wish everyone a happy, healthy, successful and prosperous 2016…I hope the goals you have set for your business this year will start to reap rewards as the year goes on! January for me is always about planning…this year, with the start of the ATCL mentoring course for piano teachers, most of my focus has gone into the preparation for that…

So, going right back to basics, what should a good diploma course deliver, is it really necessary for piano teachers and is it ONLY about passing an exam?


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Let me tell you a ‘story’…

September 28, 2015 | News | by Hilary

I love teaching through stories, my diploma students
through to my beginner and preschool pupils will all have learnt some concepts or principle through a story…

“We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well.
Seeing with the brain is often called imagination.”
Dr Oliver Sacks, renowned neurologist and author.

my-first-tunesNow that we teach music from an aural perspective, the ‘sound before the symbol’, pupils’ imaginations, I find, are more receptive. They are used to listening to the music as they play it, rather than being so engrossed in just reading the notes, and much more open to exploring the various sounds and features which make music come alive.

Just this week a young pupil was playing “On the Swing” from Barbara Kirkby-Mason’s “My First Tunes”…the piece is in 3/4 time but needs a 1-in-a-bar pulse to effectively describe the swaying motion of the swing. In the lesson this was proving difficult, so a story was called for..we took our imaginations on a trip to the playground, we felt the dizzy sensation of being on a roundabout, the ‘whee’ of the slide and the swaying of the swing, back and forth and higher and higher…and it worked! When we returned to the music, no teaching was necessary as the music ‘swayed’ very effectively with 1 beat per bar…the story and using imagination had transformed the playing of the piece!

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Do all children have musical stories to tell?

June 2, 2015 | News | by Hilary

Last week, in one of my pre-school piano classes, we had a breakthrough, something I’d been waiting for since they all started at Easter…one little girl had a “song in her head!” Now, this may not seem very significant, but to me it was… during their “free play” times I had been asking “has anyone got a song in their head?”… and I’d been met with a range of facial expressions, ranging from “what are you on about?” to “have you really lost the plot!”


Anyway, last week she raced in, screeching in the highest voice imaginable, “I’ve got a song in my head”…and she had! It was about a butterfly she’d noticed on a bush in her garden. Now, most rhyming songs can be set to music using just “so(or sol)” and “mi” and maybe the odd “la”, so I set a rhythm pattern and we all sang the song, and then transferred it to the relevant notes on the piano. It worked a treat and she couldn’t stop grinning!


Children really learn a lot from each other, so I expect an influx of songs next week!


Now, why do I put such emphasis on developing the musical ear and inner hearing?

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Piano Teaching in the future… (this might shock you!)

April 30, 2015 | News | by Hilary

Recently, I’ve been working a lot with very young primary school children, which is a new venture for me, as my school teaching in the past has been largely with 11-18 year olds.


Anyway, armed with my extensively prepared lesson plans, visual aids and songs, I bounded into the first lesson…only to discover that it took the first 10 minutes to get everyone into a circle, and that in between the lines of “How much is that doggie in the window”, every child seemed to have a more and more outlandish story about what their puppy got up to, and why was this one in the window in the first place? So, naturally we got through about a quarter of what I had planned!

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