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Young musicians at Leeds College of Music

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On Saturday 17 June 2017 Pianist magazine visited Leeds College of Music to support their very first Saturday Music School Festival. On offer was a jam-packed schedule of young musicians aged between 9 and 18, showcasing their hard work over the last academic year. 

From solo performances to groups, an africian drumming workshop and an open mic stage, the festival displayed a wide variety of music featuring so many different instruments. For a lot of the students this was their first time performing in public, which demonstrated one of the many skills they will learn while studying at the college.

We managed to sit down with Catherine Cowan, the keyboard skills and piano ensemble tutor at the college to ask her a few questions...

Can you tell us about your role at Leeds College of Music?

I teach small groups of pianists aged from 6 to 10. I like to teach them all different types of music from different eras. We cover the basics of scaling and chords and I encourage them to practice different types of music to what they are use to. My students will work in groups to learn how to improvise and gain team building skills. 

What are the most common challenges your students face?

Definitely learning notation! But also figuring out how to play together, especially since playing the piano is usually such a solo thing. 

In a world full of technology, YouTube and social media, how do you teach your students the basics of piano without them getting distracted?

I actually think technology helps! I encourage my students to listen to different music on spotify and watch tutorials on YouTube, the more help the better. The technology that we have now hasn't always been around so I think people should make the most of it. 

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

Seeing my students grow and flourish into wonderful musicians. There's nothing better than watching them progress and develop into better pianists. 

If you weren't a teacher, what would you be doing?

I'd be more of a pratical musician. I'm already in a band with my sister and we perform at weddings and at small gigs. But I also write my own songs too. 

Leeds College of Music is a leading European conservatoire. To read more about their courses and events, visit them online today.

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