Thursday, 11 August 2011

Month 1 at Mehli Mehta

I finally have a few moments to sit and write a few thoughts about the past 1.5 months.  It’s been a whirlwind, but I’ve been very much enjoying the teaching.  Charis here, at the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation, the third WAMer in Mumbai. 

Mehli Mehta is a music school in the heart of the city, offering piano and string tuitions to both kids and adults. It all began 16 years ago, in honor of conductor and violinist, Mehli Mehta.  They had a desire to promote western classical music, and so it all began...  The foundation has been growing rapidly.  There are now  21 teachers, 564 students and over 1400 students on the waitlist!!!  Apart from private lessons, they also offer something called ‘Discover Music.’  As the name suggests, this is a group class which introduces music to children as young as 2 yrs old!  Other activities include choir (which i’ll talk more about in my next blog).

Hanging out with 2 of the teachers

I’ll perhaps just blog about July in this post and fill you in about August a bit later.  During the weekdays, I have been mainly teaching privately.  In the mornings, I taught a variety of adult students, ranging from 16-70, who were all mainly of the intermediate level, with a couple advanced students.  Most of them had two lessons a week.  These morning lessons have been some of my favorite as the students have been very receptive and responding quickly.  The use of arm weight has been a common focus in lessons as many students tend to solely focus on finger action, rather than the use of the arm and or the whole body.

Delicious Parsi meal at the Foundation

One highlight for me has been teaching this one student who could play music like Bach Prelude in C (Book 1), but had nearly no knowledge of theory (not even being able to identify/write basic crochet beats or rest!)  Needless to say, i was a bit shocked!  But in this past month, we mainly worked on theory together, and by the end of it, she was transposing and analyzing, and composing different harmonies (even using Augmented 6 chords!).  

After lunch, from about 2-8, I move onto younger students, of whom are mostly beginners.  Most of the kids have been very well behaved, with of course a few who struggle to sit still, but have been nonetheless, very enjoyable to teach.  The main things I have been working on with almost all the children have been note recognition (or sight reading).  Most of the kids here can play tunes, but have a lot of trouble in reading music.  Many of them have relied on phrases, such as ‘F-A-C-E’ or ‘All Cows Eat Grass’ to identify notes.  As a result, it takes them a very long time to read a new piece of music.  So flash cards and note-finding games have been readily implemented in the lessons.  Another repeated topic has been the use of the body/hand, which is perhaps an universal problem, especially for beginners.  Kids prefer to swing their feet, rather than having them flat on the stool/ground; flat fingers; low wrist, etc.  These common issues led me to lead several workshops.

Jam'n with the kids

All workshops happened over the weekend.  Over the course of the month, I had 10 workshops: 4 for teachers, 2 for adults and 4 for kids (two for 6-9, and two for 10-14).  With the teachers, we touched on the basics of posture, technique (rhythm, phrasing, scales), sight reading and musical form.  I will just highlight one workshop on sight reading.  Sight reading seems to be quite the abandoned field here, and it was great to see the teachers become excited about sight reading.  Some stayed for over half an hour at the end of the workshop to sight read duets with each other!  The two adult workshops were on the body and musical form.  And finally, with the kids, we again touched on the subject of posture and learning about different musical concepts (tempo, pitch, timbre, articulation and instrumentation) through Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.’

 Apart from teaching and workshops, i assisted in a few Discover Music classes and in my ‘spare time’, I did my best in squeezing as many practice hours as i could for my July recital.  It was a bit stressful as it was difficult to find time to practice on top of the teaching and planning.  But the recital went very well and it was nice to see current WAMers, Ronald and Hannah and past WAMer Ryan!  Now i’m preparing for my next recital which will be in a couple weeks (eeks!).

One last thing, apart from piano work, i’ve been working with some of the violin teachers, observing violin lessons, and assisting in the violin ensemble class (it’s been 6 years since i seriously played the violin, so that’s been rather interesting).  It’s been good fun playing the good ol’ pachelbel canon and other folky tunes.

Mumbai by night

July has been busy but August has been even crazier.  I’ll post more soon.  Take care!

Ciao ciao,

Charis x

1 comment:

  1. wow sounds like your having a blast jenny!! keep posting! hope toy catch you back in newcastle sometime soon! miss you xxx