Talk on teaching music

The business of Stonehaven Ladies’ Probus Club was conducted by Ellie McLeod, Vice President, in the Station Hotel, on Tuesday 3rd April, before introducing the speaker to the assembled members and guests.

Richard Michael is a celebrated jazz musician, who was brought up in Stonehaven where he first played with his father and brother. An inspirational teacher at Mackie Academy set him on the path of improvisation and led to his career as a music teacher after attending RSAMD.

He explained his unconventional teaching methods, where communication is the key to the successful teaching so the pupils learn to enjoy their music making and are not afraid to experiment or make mistakes. He emphasised that teaching needs to be both imaginative and to fire the imagination and creativity of the pupils. Rhythm and phrasing are also key to the type of music played and the enjoyment of the listener. He also noted that though talent is important, daily practice is also key to improving.

Throughout his interactive and entertaining talk, Richard illustrated his points by playing his flute and keyboard, much to the enjoyment of the ladies present.

In addition to his teaching in Fife, Richard is a church organist, he has conducted the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra for 36 years, he broadcasts on Radio Scotland, he is a consultant for the Associated Board, he is Visiting Professor of Jazz Piano at St Andrews University, he is a frequent performer at the Wigmore Hall in London and he loves making music at every opportunity, especially with his talented family.

At a request from Ellie McLeod, Richard ended his talk by playing “The Entertainer” in a number of different styles, to much laughter and applause.

The vote of thanks was given by Meg Duncan who observed how different and how much fun his music lessons must be to those that the members experienced as youngsters.

Ladies were delighted to hear they would have the chance to hear Richard again as he is playing for a Jazz Concert being held by Kinneff Old Church Preservation Trust in St James Church on Friday 20th April at 7,30pm. Tickets costing £10 may be obtained from Guillianotti’s or at the door.