Theory, Composition and Songwriting Lessons

Are you interested in developing your musical knowledge and understanding?
Would you love to be able to write your own music?
Do you want to discover how your favourite music works, and why?
Do you want to pass your Grade 5 theory, GCSE or A Level exam the fun way?
I provide lessons in person and online that are tailored to your goals.

Handwriting On Desk
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Why learn theory?

Usually when musicians seek out theory lessons it’s because they need to pass that notorious ABRSM Grade 5 Theory exam in order to progress to their instrumental grades 6 to 8. However, there are so many great reasons to learn theory! Here are a few.

  • It helps you to learn pieces faster on your instrument, and to understand the music better. By having some theory knowledge, you will start to notice recognisable patterns that help you to process musical information faster, and in a way that makes more sense to you.

  • It helps you to communicate with other musicians. When you learn about musical concepts, you build a vocabulary that comes in handy when you’re playing with others. It really helps to save time and means that everybody is on the same page in a band rehearsal, for example.

  • It helps you realise your musical ideas more accurately. If you have studied music you love, you discover what musical techniques and tools the composer or songwriter used to get the effects they wanted. If you understand how these techniques work, you can add them to your own musical toolkit for your own creative use. It’s so much quicker than bashing around aimlessly on your instrument until you find the notes you want!

  • It makes you a more adaptable musician and gives you the ability to improvise. For example, if I go to a band rehearsal and part way through somebody asks if we can try a different key, I will need to be able to transpose my part into the new key on the fly. If you have learned how to do this, you can deal with requests like this confidently, and you avoid floundering around not knowing what to do. Similarly, if you have to improvise a melody or accompaniment, you’ll know which notes or chords to choose from to fit the style of music. 

  • It helps you to play and transcribe by ear. This is a really useful tool, and is one I use all the time. If you know your scales and key signatures, you can quickly find what key a piece of music is in, and that helps you to work out the melody notes or chord progression quickly and accurately. Having a good rhythmic vocabulary and notation skills help you to record musical ideas straight from a recording or your imagination.

Why have composition or songwriting lessons?

  • It’s a brilliant creative outlet.

  • It’s satisfying to be able to write down and record the musical ideas you have in your head.

  • It helps you not just to come up with ideas, but to develop them successfully into a full song or piece.

  • You get to make and enjoy something that is entirely designed to suit your own musical tastes.

  • It helps you to build your own toolkit of musical techniques that you can use in your own way to make something original and your own.

  • It’s fun!

Why have lessons with me?

  • I have Grade 8 in Music Theory. Most music teachers only have Grade 5 theory as this is the level you need to get to in order to complete grades 6 to 8 on an instrument for the ABRSM exam board. I loved music theory so much that I decided to do the other exams for fun! (Yes, this is a bit weird.)

  • My degree is in Composition. I have a first class honours degree in music, specialising in composition. This involved a lot of music theory and analysis, and I got to learn how to creatively apply the musical techniques I studied. I got to write for various different ensembles, bands, orchestras, choirs and short films. I’m currently writing a set of pieces for my piano students. I’d love to pass what I learned from these experiences forward to you!

  • I have a growing collection of resources for learning theory. I love finding and making new resources to aid my students in their current area of study. These include worksheets, flashcards and games. I use these regularly in lessons, and also to supplement the graded theory workbooks that are published by exam boards (but can be a bit dry!). The more colourful and interesting, the better!

  • I have experience of tutoring A Level and GCSE music students on a one-to-one basis, giving feedback and advice on composition coursework.

More Lesson Information

At the moment I am teaching exclusively online due to Covid-19 distancing measures. This is actually working really well for theory lessons, and online video call lessons will continue to be available when in-person teaching resumes.

I also teach from my house in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and at students’ homes in Nuneaton, Hinckley and the surrounding villages. All you will need is a pencil, ruler, rubber and notebook, plus ideally a device you can play musical recordings from (this could just be your smartphone) and access to an instrument. If you have books or materials you’ve already been working from then that’s great – otherwise, don’t worry as I can provide appropriate materials!

Pricing

A 60 minute lesson is currently £27

A 40 minute lesson is currently £20

A 30 minute lesson is currently £14

For private lessons, I usually accept payment through direct bank transfer on a lesson-by-lesson basis, although some people prefer to pay for a couple of lessons at a time. I also accept cheques (and sometimes cash for in-person lessons) if you don’t have access to online banking.