Teaching Philosophy

I know that every teacher at P.A.M.A. has spent many years becoming musically educated in order to teach and perform and each shares an aspiration to see their students and audiences develop an understanding and love of music.  As teachers it is paramount to have a teaching philosophy as well as a clear methodology that achieves results that will keep students engaged and progressing.

This teaching philosophy should also be understood and discussed by the student and/or parent.

There is little doubt that most music students would show strong progress if they practiced for two hours daily but in today’s world this is going to be the rare exception.   Most students prefer to have music in their lives as an enjoyable and pleasant way to pass the time while experiencing a degree of creative fulfillment and challenge.   Others prefer to be engaged in a more disciplined manner, maybe even by pursuing a course of classical academic study with theoretical studies.   Some students spend a lot of time playing and practicing in a more self-directed way and expect their teacher to guide their explorations with weekly oversight.

Whatever your study habits and musical goals might be it is important for the student/parent and teacher to establish an understanding of what the student’s and teacher’s expectations are.  This will go far to develop a relationship between the teacher and student that is grounded in a shared understanding.  Does the teacher know what your expectations are and do you know what the teacher expects of you, and do the goals of teacher and student align?

All it takes is ongoing open communication to establish a path that will over time become an enjoyable and rewarding journey of growth.  Take the opportunity to find out about your teacher’s background and teaching philosophy and discuss suggested practice routines and methods.

The best student-teacher relationships are symbiotic with both teacher and student working toward the goal of making music with a common understanding of what is required to achieve that goal.

Lloyd English

Musician, Educator

Saltspring Island, BC


How To Practice

For the Student and Parent

Practicing requires as much physical work as it does mental work and this holds especially true for the guitar. When you practice you are not only teaching your fingers to do things they haven’t done before but you are also learning a new instrument and language while at the same time teaching your ears to hear in new ways.

1. If your practicing is rushed or unfocused your time will be largely wasted and your progress will be negatively impacted. With this in mind use your time wisely and carefully, be patient and observe the following.

• Build a private and quiet practice place that includes all the items you will need including a music stand, instrument stand, picks, pencils, music you are working on, a tuner and a small table. This should be a place you want to go to and should have all the elements required for a productive session.

• Begin by establishing a Timeframe for your practice session and then divide that timeframe into smaller tasks . Create a group of tasks to achieve and then apply the time frames to the tasks.

Session Duration – Divided by Small Tasks Durations

30 minutes divided by 3 = 3 X 10 minutes

Apply these time segments to tasks:

Scales – 10 minutes
Learning a Song – 10 minutes
Chords – 10 minutes

2. Play and practice at a tempo (speed) at which you are making no mistakes, never play faster than you can think, always “slowly and accurately”.

3. Repetitions of the task should always be with full concentration with your ears wide open listening carefully for a musical result. Engage your mind as well as your fingers and allow your eyes to assist both your left and right hands and never forget to listen to what you are playing.

4. If you get bored redirect your attention. Work with steady concentration and stay focused for the duration of the task/timeframe and breathe. Clear your mind and concentrate.

5. Make sure your instrument is always tuned perfectly, use a digital tuner. The sounds that are coming from your instrument should make you excited to practice. Never be satisfied with anything less than an enjoyable musical experience.

“Perfect Performance begins with Perfect Practice”