Music Teaching

MIKE SKINNER MUSIC

You CAN have fun while developing the necessary discipline required to play music.

You can learn to play the saxophone regardless of your age. If you already play any instrument and read music, but do not improvise or play by ear, you can learn. If you already play an instrument by ear, but do not read you can learn. I have taught young people as well as mature adults, beginners as well as seasoned pros how to read music, play by ear and improvise.

I use a holistic approach that integrates theory, ear training, reading, and technique into the same practical lessons. I tailor every lesson to your individual needs, strengths and weaknesses.

Following this approach, in a short period of time, you will learn to understand how music is composed and develop equal facility in reading, memorizing, playing by ear, and improvising over chord changes.

Music is meant to be played with others. My goal is to give you a practice regime that will get you out of your practice space to play with other musicians as quickly as possible.

My criticism of traditional music pedagogy is that students can develop a high degree of technical facility and a theoretical understanding of music but the theory is abstractly disconnected from playing. Consequently, many students learn to read and memorize music at a high level of competence, they can also do complex theory on paper (more likely a computer these days) but they are unable to connect these skills to play by ear or improvise.

The very best music is a conversation among players who fully comprehend what they and their fellow musicians are playing. Some musicians do attain a high level of performance skills without the ability to fluently converse, but those musicians are like the English-speaking opera singer who can parrot the Italian words of an opera without comprehending their meaning. To truly convey the meaning of music you need to develop an understanding of its inner language. When you begin to understand the inner language of music you can engage in a musical conversation with other players whether you are reading, playing by ear, or improvising over written chord changes.

Whether you want to become a professional musician or play for recreation, the ability to read as well as to play by ear and improvise opens so many more possibilities.

My goal is that you will develop equal facility in reading, improvising over written chord changes, and playing by ear.

I begin by teaching scales and chords in a way that demonstrates how these are not only the building blocks of music they can also fun to play when approached musically rather than as a chore. I will encourage you to invent and improvise in balance with developing the necessary discipline to accurately read and to play with other players.

Among the primary texts I use are Jamey Aebersold’s play-along series and the iReal Pro midi player. By practising with these, you will learn to play in time and in tune with other players and develop the physical and mental facility to fluently improvise and play your instrument in all keys.

I expect my students to practice regularly and I aspire to do my part to make that practice time enjoyable and rewarding.

Contact Mike Skinner at: m.skinner@sympatico.ca

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