The Royal Wedding

By Becky

If like us you watched with delight at the Royal Wedding on Saturday, you might have noticed some rather fabulous bits of music. I was blown away their choices, encompassing classical and modern, representing their personal approach very well.

It was great to see so much representation of BAME and female musicians, whilst using the world class choir of St. George’s Chapel to sing the classical pieces of music (side note, my old classical music history teacher from Trinity sang in that choir for over 30 years before retiring last year. I used to love visiting him at Windsor castle, where he lived and seeing all the secret bits, it’s an amazing castle!).

The bride entered to a trumpet fanfare specially written for her and it was the first female trumpeter to play for a royal wedding.

This was then followed by a gorgeous piece by Handel, called Eternal Source of Light Divine. This has a special place for the Royal family as it was first written by Handel in 1713 for Queen Anne (Handel wrote a lot of the Royals, including one of his most famous pieces of work, Music for the Royal Fireworks). Princess Diana also used a piece by Handel to walk down the aisle of her wedding day, sung by Kiri Te Kanawa back in 1981. The piece on Saturday was beautifully sung by the female Welsh soprano Elin Manahan-Thomas and let me tell you, that is a HARD piece of music to sing, not only because 2 billion people are watching you, but because of how high it is in your register. She did an absolutely brilliant job.

And possibly one of the best reactions to the music was this pageboy’s face when the trumpet fanfare started…

Entrance of the Bride – Trumpet Fanfare and Handel – Eternal Source of Light Divine


We couldn’t talk about the wedding music without mentioning The Kingdom Choir, how brilliant was the choir that performed?! Here they are in all their glory, I just loved the Musical Director, what energy and passion she has!

Stand by Me’ performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir – The Royal Wedding – BBC


Next up was the rather fabulous Sheku. I first heard of him when he won Young Musician of the Year back in 2016 (and became the first black musician to win this prestigious award). He comes from a large family, all of whom are excellent musicians and his touch and tone is a delight to listen to. In a wonderful side effect, he is currently No. 1 in the US pop charts with the first track from his album “Inspiration”  and even better, it’s with his recording of Shostakovich cello concerto! Who would have thought that Shostakovich would hit the charts? What a fantastic day for classical and popular music.


Royal Wedding Sheku Kanneh Mason Virtuoso Cello


The English born composer John Rutter has long been one of my favourite composers. He writes the most subliminal church music and many carols that we sing at Christmas are by Rutter, or arranged by him. He has contributed a vast amount to choral singing in his lifetime and I’m so glad he was recognised in this way. I also recommend listening to For The Beauty Of The Earth and All Things Bright And Beautiful (some of you may have heard this as it’s a Grade 5 voice piece).

The Royal Wedding Ceremony – Westminster Abbey Choir – This is the day (by John Rutter)


Last of all, it was rumoured that Idris Elba played the decks late into the night at the after party, sounds a perfect way to end of the day!

Here is the link to all the music used in the service if you would like to listen to it all

Sing The Rainbow…

Sing A Rainbow

By Indigo Star 9th March 2017

The Colour of Sound

Colour appears in music it time and time again, a perfect example can be found in the popular children’s classic ‘Sing A Rainbow’, we even have a whole genre of music called the Blues that often laments on the woeful human condition of sadness and emotional disarray. We use colour in language to describe strong feelings with terms such as ‘seeing red’ to denote anger, or ‘green with envy’ as the hue of jealousy.

Have you ever considered what sound and music might look like? Did you know that each sound has a corresponding colour and through mathematical science we can calculate the colour of sound and connect the plethora of frequencies visually and audibly perceivable to us.

So how does it work? I hear you ask. Well first you have to understand the fundamental nature of vibration that sound and colour share. Frequency is a measure we use for both and is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit in time. The sounds we hear are much lower frequency than the light we see and therefore sound and light vibrations are very different.

In the 17th century it was Isaac Newton that made the pioneering discovery that white light shone through a prism dispersed, separating into different wavelengths which produced the seven colours of the rainbow.

Light (colour) is formed of electromagnetic waves which are synchronised oscillations of electric and magnetic fields that radiate at the speed of light through a vacuum. This extensive range of continuous frequencies is known as the Electromagnetic Spectrum of which only a narrow band of wavelengths between 1014 & 1015 Hertz are actually visible to the human eye. Though light is a very fast moving wavelength, slow it down enough and it stops being visible and becomes audible.

Sound on the other hand causes air molecules to vibrate in moving compression waves which involves the two simple elements of pressure and time. These fundamental elements can be used to describe absolutely every sound we hear.

Some people are born with a rare condition called Synesthesia, found roughly in 1-4 percent of people. This trait causes them to experience a mixing of the senses which means they involuntarily see colour when look at particular letters, numbers and other symbols or in connection to the sounds that they hear. Many research studies have revealed how we might perceive sound as colour, such as the work of one of Russia’s most innovative and controversial early modern composers, Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915) who developed a substantially atonal music system to which he associated colours with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale based on his own experience of synesthesia.

He developed a mapping system called “clavier à lumieères” (literally “keyboard with lights”) depicting sound pitch and colour correlation.

      Alexander Scriabins’ musical colour map   

Take a look at the link below to see a fine example of this when Ali Nikrang for Mozarteum Kultur GmbH wrote a program to visualizes a piano performance in realtime using the “colour theory” by Alexander Scriabin.

The Sound of Colour

In more recent times the colour blind artist and musician Neil Harbisson has overcome his colour blindness by working alongside technologists including Peter Kese, a software developer from Kranj, Slovenia and more recently, Matias Lizana, a computer engineering student at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona. Together they have utilised modern technologies to create ‘The Eyeborg’ which used a webcam to detect light and a sound conversion computer program along with headphones to transmit the sound to his ears which was further developed to transmit the sound directly to his skull bone. Though this work Harbisson is now able to perceive a greater spectrum of colours and in turn paint what he hears by using the device as a source of inspiration which informs his painting.


Sacred Sound

It’s not only in art and music that we find the colour sound combination to be of intrigue and usefulness. Therapists across many cultures have understood the power of sound in conjunction with colour because we are made up of electromagnetic vibrations and frequencies also. Even ancient civilisations used colour and sound as a form of healing practice through chanting to invoke colourful vibration to re-tune the body into balance which is still practised by many today. Often based around the perception of an energy point system within the body called Chakras, each correlating to one of the seven colours of the rainbow and a corresponding sound frequency. Our ancestors developed techniques such as chanting and mantras which would create resonance within the body believing it to have beneficial and restorative effects. Why not try it yourself?

Take a look at the diagram below, get comfortable and sit quietly for a few moments then take a deep and calming breath in and out, notice how you feel. Then begin to sing each of the notes in the corresponding vowel sound whilst visualising its given colour. How does it feel inside when you make each sound wave and imagine it in colour? When finished take notice of how you feel, is it a different when you began? You could write it down and try it a few times to see if you get different results each time.


What colour are you most attracted to right now?

Here are suggested qualities associated with the 7 colours of the chakra rainbow. If you would like to enhance those qualities within yourself, your life and your creativity, introduce them into your day through diet by eating coloured food, dressing in colour, singing the vowel while focussing on the corresponding chakra and colour.

Paint With Music

The exciting times we live in present myriad opportunities to access a wealth of information and resources which are becoming increasingly available to us.

Our ability to express ourselves freely and creatively expands in all directions as we continue to find new ways in which to perceive the world in which we live.

As we marvel at the world and express our perceptions, an inevitably fusion of multi mediums, beliefs, creative ideas, technologies and talent occurs in a perpetual spiral of discovery. One such artist who did exactly that is music composer Ólafur Arnalds with his composition Ljósið. Olafur collaborated with video artists to create an eloquently stunning and colourful visual representation of his music. Perhaps you could work with other artists too?

Explore for yourself by perhaps creating your own unique piece of musical art, this could be done by painting whilst listening to a particular song that inspires you, or perhaps write a piece of music based upon the colour sound charts below. Have fun creating your own new painting with music technique.

Good luck and enjoy the wonderful world of colour, light and sound!

Fantastic Beasts and The Woman of Many Talents…

As if J K Rowling hadn’t already made it abundantly clear that she is an extraordinary woman – a world famous author of one of the biggest book and movie franchises the world has ever seen, generous philanthropist and campaigner and now, it turns out, a composer!
The latest brick in the Harry Potter tower, the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film (which we love by the way) has a speakeasy scene, where a female goblin with a fabulous voice (actually sung by Emmie Joy Green who was discovered online and sung the demo in her childhood bedroom!) sings a song called “Blind Pig”. Turns out our superwoman J K Rowling co-wrote that very song!
Take a listen below and fall in love like we did – my, my it’s catchy!
How many magical creatures do you hear mentioned…?

Harry Potter and the Magical Score

By Meg…

We at the Becky Dell office recently went, purely as research of course, to the Warner Bros Studio tour on the making of Harry Potter.

Sorry..? No, no Becky riding a broomstick was crucial to our research…yes, absolutely.

It is phenomenal to see and to be surrounded by the level of production the Harry Potter films represent – several thousand people per film, department after department responsible for pulling J K Rowling’s magical stories out of our imaginations and into the real world for us to see with our very own eyes.

Each tiny element, from the children’s drawings on the wall of The Burrow and the weird and wonderful collection of objects in Dumbledore’s office, to the colossal creations like the mechanical entrance to the Chamber of Secrets (no, that was not a computer effect!) and the enormous clock pendulum that swings in the entrance hall was painstakingly considered, designed and brought into fruition by a team of true artists.


The production team on these films left not one detail to chance, not one corner of a set empty. So many little works of art that we may only see in the periphery of a single shot but each and every one act as a single crystal in an entire shining, magical world that they built for us. Aren’t we lucky?


And then – then there is the soundtrack. The music that holds the whole story together reminding us with little musical memories of everything that our favourite characters have seen and done and overcome. The same level of detail and painstaking love and attention was given to the score, breathing the life force into Harry’s new and wondrous Wizarding World.

So who is responsible for one of the World’s favourite soundtracks?

Well before I went to the Harry Potter studios I thought the simple answer to that question was, of course, John Williams. Oh, was I wrong.

See – I told you the trip was for research purposes.

Of course, the inhuman wonder that is 50 times Oscar nominated and 5 times Oscar winner film composer John Williams was responsible for some of our favourite themes in the Harry Potter saga. Between 2001 – 4 (yes, it really was that long ago) John Williams, along with two orchestrators, composed the score for the first three Harry Potter movies and created some of the most loved melodies in the score such as Hedwig’s Theme and Harry’s Wondrous World.

But… did you know that over the 10 years and 8 films there were 4 main composers, 15 orchestrators and 53 original themes composed…I know I didn’t.

The four composers make up a quartet of Hollywood film royalty, with enough film credits and award nominations and wins to fill most of Hogwarts and it’s many secret rooms.

The first of course we know.

John Williams is a household name responsible for a hefty percentage of …well, all the top selling feature films made in the World, ever.

308495Schindler’s List, E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park, the Indiana Jones films, Saving Private Ryan, Hook, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The BFG, all seven Star Wars films, Superman, Home Alone, Nixon, The Patriot, Angela’s Ashes, Seven Years in Tibet, The Witches of Eastwick…I mean, you get my point.


The second, responsible for the 4th filmThe Goblet of Fire, was Patrick Doyle. Doyle is particularly loved, with 2 Oscar nominations, for his work with director Sir Kenneth Branagh, writing the score for feature films Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing , Hamlet , As You Like It and Cinderella. To this day the two collaborate and Doyle even wrote the score in Branagh’s 2015 production of The Winter’s Tale that ran in Garrick Theatre in the West End.

The third is Nicholas Hooper, who wrote the music for The Order of the Pheonix and The Half-Blood Prince, reunnicholashooperiting with his old friend with David Yates, the director for those films. He was nominated for a Grammy for the music in The Half Blood Prince, which is a nice addition to his list – he’s won a BAFTA Award and an Ivor Novello Award for Original Score and another BAFTA for Best Original Television Music. All in a day’s work.


And for the big finale came Alexandre Desplat, left with a heavy duty of creating a score to end all Harry Potter scores as the series came to it’s dramatic close.

I feel we can safely say he was up to the job. In my humble opinion his thematic writing in Hogwarts’ final battle is some of my favourite film writing. I have no shame in saying it makes me cry every time.

He is another Hollywood veteran with a, frankly, slightly ridiculous credit list including films like The Queen, The Golden Compass, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King’s Speech, Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, Rise of the Guardians, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Godzilla, The Imitation Game..blah blah blah.

Sorry, what was that…? Yes, of course he’s won an Oscar as well.


10 years of soundtrack, 4 composers, 4 directors, 8 extraordinary films based on 7 extraordinary stories and about, I can only assume, 24 million people to make up the cast, crew, post production, designers, engineers, runners, camera people, cleaners, educators, screenwriters, costume designers and catering staff needed to make something like this possible.

J K Rowling brought the magical, wizarding world to life in all of our imaginations but these composers and these productions – well, I think they came the closest we Muggles will ever get to making real Magic…



The Piano That Plays Itself…

By Meg….

Did you hear the tale of the piano who played itself?

Yes, it may sound like the beginning of a fairytale but no! I really ask you – have you heard of the Steinway Spirio Piano??

I am terribly conflicted.

On one hand – amazing! I am bowled over by technology and what it can do and here is one of the most famous makers of the most beautiful pianos creating something extraordinary and really quite fun! It is innovative, it is exciting (it is expensive…) – I mean take a look…

Any piece you want, performed live and with sheer technical perfection at the swipe of an iPad screen. The piano even tempers the performance depending on how it is played in the recording you choose- unbelievable!


On the other hand…

I am a pianist.

If one day I decide I want to learn and perform Frédéric Chopin’s “Raindrop” Prelude. I spend 77.5 hours practicing the fingering, I listen to recordings of The Greats, I have 19 minor emotional breakdowns and then, MAYBE, I perform it through note perfect. That is, of course, not mentioning the 10 years I took to get to my current standard and the 1 million Great British Sterling pounds my parents invested in my lessons and exams.

And I pretty convinced the Spirio will still play it better than me.

It is an interesting dilemma and I have to say, although I struggle to contain my bitterness at the comparison in our technical ability, I  none the less LOVE the idea of the Steinway Spirio. There is nothing better than the sound of a live instrument, nothing better than experiencing those extraordinary pieces of music in the flesh.

If this brings more live music into more homes then I am it’s greatest advocate (plus it is just a very surreal and very cool idea)  – but maybe hire a musician sometime…No one and no thing can play the piano like Martha Argerich.



Metronomes – Why and Which One?!

By Meg Ella

I’m sure at some point or another we have all been told by our music teachers to practice with a metronome. It may seem tedious at first but there are actually multiple benefits to doing regular practice with our little clicking friends, and here are a few : –

Keeping a Steady Beat

All of us are guilty of straying from the pulse. We slow down in the tricky sections, or when it’s quiet and speed up in those lovely easy passages and when it gets loud and exciting! Practicing with a metronome can help catch us out on those moments when we cheat the beat.


A metronome can be our best friend when figuring out and practicing those tricky rhythmic passages. If you set the metronome to a subdividing click (in quavers for example) you can get your head around more difficult rhythms like triplets, semiquavers or syncopated rhythms in no time. You can even get talking metronomes that say the beats – perfect for checking you are in the right place in the bar!

Efficient Practice

Metronomes can be a great way to focus on those tricky passages that we just don’t want to practice. Setting the tempo at a low bpm and turning it up one notch at a time can be a great way to get hard sections under our fingers – how fast can YOU take it??

Musical Awareness

In the simplest terms, when we practice with a metronome we are forced to focus on something external, not just listen to ourselves and focus on what we are playing. This is the ultimate skill when we get together to play in groups and ensembles, and those musicians who listen the most are often the best – start practicing now!


Which One??

There are lots of choices for metronomes out there, from classic mechanical ones to phone apps – here are a few of our favourites!

Classic Old Fashioned (look great with acoustic pianos and grands and don’t sound digital!) –


Contemporary Classic (still no need for batteries!)

Portable and Cheap as Chips (even has a clip to keep it steady on your music stand or piano!)

Metronome and Tuner Combined (great for guitarists but handy for anyone!)

It’s also always a good idea to download a metronome app on our phones – then we have one wherever we go! Hear is a good one I used all through music college –

Good luck – we hope you find the metronome you are looking for and happy practicing!

Piano Stools – What, where and why?

It may not seem like a big part of playing the piano but you would be surprised how much of a difference a proper piano stool can make.

Firstly, and in the simplest terms, we are all different sizes and the pianos – they are not.

Even the most simple little pieces can be made so much harder when we are too low down at the piano and from the word go you are learning bad technique, through no fault of your own, making everything more frustrating and more difficult – and where is the fun in that?!

Being at the right height at the piano and, crucially with little ones, being able to adjust that height as we grow means we give ourselves the best shot at keeping our technique and our bodies strong and healthy. Our shoulders can stay relaxed, our arms and hands can rest comfortably allowing us to use our natural weight on the keys and we stay altogether happier and more productive!

There are some great adjustable piano stools available, potentially a one time purchase that can span all the way through a students piano education.

Here are some options we have found –

Standard, affordable and most importantly – adjustable! 

Choose and customise your own colours!

And with a storage compartment.

If you don’t have one with storage you can quite easily pop your music in these magazine holders –  – (or the equally good £2 jobs at IKEA!)

For something a little more ornate and mid-market…

Or for something truly special, the king of all piano stools…

In fact, we love all the Coach House stools and Becky has one herself and thoroughly recommends them!

Good luck and happy practice!

The Music Bug

You may or may not be a fan of the bugs in your backyard and perhaps even join the many whom often have a completely irrational fear of all things crawly. However, their is no denying their magnificent make up, as their minuscular proportions present a feat of extraordinary engineering and aesthetic complexity.

As technology has advanced Entomologists have been having a field day studying and understanding the diverse insect populations and their respective relationship with the environment and of course us. Their existence is essential to our own for example, as many of you will be aware of the recent ecological bioscience concerns about the decline and extinctions within Bee species and how this will cause devastating effects on human existence. In short, our bugs are not only beautiful but highly beneficial. To find out more on how to help visit


image2                                                      William Wasden, Jr


Insect Inspiration

For centuries the presence of insects has intrigued our human senses cultivating our fond appreciation for the little critters. Our fascination with their forms and behaviours has proved productive as we have learned to exploit the fruits of their labour such as honey, silk, beeswax and Cochineal. Not only that, we have developed a cultural entomology as Charles Hogue defined it, including them in our diet as a vital source of protein in some countries, they also emerge in our language through familiar expressions like ” Busy as a Bee” and “Snug as a bug”. We scientifically monitor their habits which in turn informs and impacts on our own practices, and their symbolism can be found in our politics, technology, recreation, religion, mythology, folklore, literature, poetry, music and art.

Throughout the ages they appear time and again to inspire our creativity. Early Native American wall paintings along with Egyptian Hieroglyphs observe their long standing significance to our specie, while latter day artists studied their incredible constructs and colours in an attempt to paint fabulous depictions of their intricate beauty.



A Dragon-fly, Two Moths, a Spider and Some Beetles, With Wild Strawberries. By Jan Van Kessel,17th Century



Allegory on Life and Death by Joris and Jacob Hoefnagel, 1598

Insects could be considered as n atures percussion section with their endless mathematical noises and the sonic acoustic relationship between humans and bugs is most commonly found in pest control as researchers record and identify insects by the music of their wings.

A team lead by the University of California,Riverside have honed this technique by tracking the sound of their flight with a microphone along with using a laser light image5sensor to track the movement of an insect’s wing beats. By recording its wing pattern as it  breaks the light, a signal is then converted into an audio file. An insect’s buzz has many musical qualities such as tempo, colour, texture or musicality, these along withother considerations such as circadian cycles are fed to a computer algorithm which untangles the information and specifically identifies the species, even distinguishing between genders.

Interesting fact: Did you know that Bees sing diatonic notes.

Writers such as David Rothenber delve deeply into how insects give us rhythm and noise with books such as Bug Music, whilst amazing compositions burst into life as in the orchestral explosion;



image7Flight Of The Bumblebee by Nikolia Rimsky-Korsakov.

Or the rhythmic vocal ensemble cappella, El Grillo (The Cricket) by renaissance composer Josquin des Prez.


The musical nature of insects has unquestionably inspired generations of musicians with bands such as The Beatles, Adam Ant, Scorpions, Papa Roach, WASP, Buddy Holly And The Crickets all directly adopting their names from their little Eco friends. Countless songs are inscribed with references to our bug buddies as are the myriad of melodic metaphors that lyrically lament about love, as exquisitely exemplified by The Butterfly Lovers ,written in 1959 by two Chinese composers, He Zhanhao (何占豪, born 1933) and Chen Gang (陈钢, born 1935) which gives a pentatonic portrayal of an ancient Chinese Legend of love and tragedy.

A young woman naimage8med Zhu Ying Tai disguised herself as a man to attend a school in Hangzhou. On her way there, she met a fellow traveller and schoolmate named Liang Shan Bo. They became good friends and swore honorary brothers. For three years, they studied and lived together. Yet, Liang never realized that Zhu was a woman. Before their graduation, Zhu asked Liang to visit her in her hometown and promised to marry her “fictitious” younger sister to him. When Liang arrived, hewas ecstatic to discover her true identity. However, their hope of marriage was soon dashed when Zhu’s parents betrothed Zhu to their schoolmate Ma Wen Cai. Liang died of a broken heart. On Zhu’s wedding day to Ma, she tore off her wedding gown and threw herself against Liang’s tomb, which opened up and enveloped Zhu. Then, from the tomb, a pair of butterflies emerged.


The Butterfly Lovers ErHu Concerto (traditional instruments)  or The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto …




Our interpretations of romance, fear, anxiety, comfort and joy have all been relayed using insect inspired themes. Perhaps we can all compare our creativity to that of the insect world as we each endeavour to explore our patterns and communicate our unique sound and rhythmic expression. In the beauty of bugs we can see ourselves, industrious, fragile, cooperative, cunning, relentless, adaptable and astonishing. Is it any wonder we sing about them and celebrate them for all their tiny greatness.


Author Indigo Star © 22nd August 2016



Professional Development Day at BDMA!

On Monday 11th June 2016 Becky and some of the tutors at BDMA were lucky enough to spend a few hours learning from one of our country’s most exceptional music educationalists, Professor Derek Aviss OBE.Derek-Aviss-Tas-Kyprianou-146x195

After a diverse career as a soloist and ensemble cellist, Derek Aviss took up a  position as a teacher at Trinity Laban College of Music and Dance, the conservatoire he himself studied at. He became Executive Director and Principal before retiring in 2012 and was awarded an OBE for services to Higher and Music Education in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List. He continues to be an active member and patron of many musical charities, and dedicates his time to help talented young musicians get access to the same intensive training that he was fortunate enough to have provided for him through funding from the State.

Derek is currently involved with some cutting edge research into “Science & Music” involving the eight conservatoires in the UK with active research going on in three of them, including Trinity Laban. The prediction that is within ten years we will be able to have easy to access software to tell you how correct your technique and posture is. Obviously there is a “correct way of playing” that is taught, but this has not changed much for 200 years and this must be adapted for the individual student. New technology will take all the best guessing out of it and allow for precision tuition.

We all gathered at Mycenae House (we even had tutors on laptops on Skype tuning in!) and the session began with a short performance of the first movement of Corngold’s Much Ado About Nothing Suite Opus 11. It was performed by Duo Asteria (a pair of beautiful and accomplished young musicians, find their website here, two of Derek’s current students, Corinna Hentschel on violin and Giulio Poggia on piano.


While the masterclass was a long one and Derek shared a great deal with us, there were three reoccurring themes discussed about how we should teach our students (and ourselves!) to practice… We also discussed how tension is unreleased energy and when under pressure (such as in an exam situation) we unconsciously draw on that energy. Whilst it is good for flight of fight, it is not good for performance and research has shown you can lose 40% of your technique whilst promising. Utilising these three practice techniques help you stay in control during performances.

  • Slow Motion Practice


Derek likened the process of slow motion practice to slowing down a film. Imagine a video, slowed to a quarter of it’s natural pace, and see how each movement and expression appears exaggerated and makes little sense until the moment it is back at full speed. Pianist Giulio said, as he demonstrated how he himself works at Derek’s technique – “If you cannot play it perfectly in slow motion then you cannot play it fast. And vice versa, if you cannot play it fast it means you cannot play it properly in slow motion!”. In the simplest terms practicing in slow motion, where every note and marking is played accurately and to an exaggerated degree, can be one of the most efficient ways of learning things quickly, at any level! It takes practice to work in that way but as Derek and Giulio so brilliantly demonstrated, it is clearly worth it.

  • Pulse

Derek was adamant that in music, of any style, pulse is one of the most crucial raw materials. He demonstrated, in an exercise where the duo performed and he asked us to raise our hand the moment we caught ourselves not listening (it felt a little rude!), that without being connected to the pulse you cannot hold onto your audience. He explained how our bodies respond to pulse, we are kept alive by our heart beat, our brain sends impulses rather than a continuous flow of information, and that as musicians we kill the music if we cannot keep that pulse and energy alive in the performance! In terms of teaching and working with children he made it clear how essential it was to help them feel the pulse in the pieces they learn. Clapping exercises, getting the children to clap the beats as you play the piece, and then swapping back and forth between these roles can help our students feel that important pulse and to really enjoy playing.


  • Intonation

Intonation can be one of the trickiest things for our students to master. Even on piano, with it’s fixed tuning, it can be difficult to hear the key. Derek explained how the best thing to do is to centre themselves in the intonation during the process of learning a piece. This means playing the scale in the same key, the arpeggios, play intervals of the key together as student and teacher so they can really hear it. Doing this rather than learning the piece and trying to problem solve the intonation after means you are (as Derek re-iterated numerous times) treating the cause of the problem rather than the effect!


We finished off the day with a half an hour of drama games hosted by Amanda, an actress and inspirational teacher who works at Blackheath Conservatoire running music workshops to young children.


She has been exploring at what age we begin to become self conscious about our individualism and how so often we see children learning that some ideas, sounds or impulses are right and others wrong. She discussed with us how powerful a tool music can be in teaching our students to have the courage to express their own unique voice and how we should always nurture that alongside developing technique.

Over the course of the day there was so many ideas that Derek, his students and Amanda shared with us and we are all inspired and excited to get back to teaching in September and to apply these new techniques! One pearl of wisdom I think we all took away was, as Derek said, we are not there to teach, we are “there to remove the problems that prevent our students from succeeding”…







End of an era…the Jurassic one!

How do you mark the end of a 11 year pupil/tutor relationship..? By dressing up in a T-rex costume and playing Jurassic Park on the piano, of course!

This summer marks the end of 11 years of music making for Becky Dell and piano student Eleanor, who is starting a new adventure at University this September! To celebrate the end of this era they planned a fittingly fun and creative way of waving good bye.

Filmed at the lovely Mycenae House in Greenwich, home of the Becky Dell Music Academy concerts (and run by the lovely Mark and Anna), this video was inspired by the T-rex youtube trend, where people do various wild and wonderful things (in our case a piano recital)- in T-rex costumes! We even did some scenic garden shots which greatly intrigued some visiting children…

We thought you would enjoy it – watch and join us in sending Eleanor lots of BDMA love and luck as she heads off into her bright future!