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N u R t u r i n g

Y o u n g

T a l e n t


WHY MUSIC MATTERS Benefits of Learning Music

Flautist Elliot Black on his musical journey



Every Parent Can Help

s a parent, you may feel a little intimidated when tackling your child’s musical development. It appears to be a daunting task. Is my child ready? Where do I begin? Who can I ask? That’s because we don’t think ourselves qualified enough to answer these questions. The good news is that you don’t have to play an instrument to help your child. We are all musical beings; each and every one of us, parent, carer and child alike. Just because you may not be able to read music doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Every now and then you find yourself singing in the bathroom, humming a tune in the car or nodding to the beat of a practising neighbour. Whether it’s pop or Popp, Hot Chili or Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Beethoven or Beatles, it doesn’t matter. If you’re passionate about music, your enthusiasm is likely to come through when helping your child. Besides, no one else knows your child more than you do. You are best placed to nurture, encourage and assist them get the most out of music. Beat & Pieces is here to help. We’ll hold your hand and walk you through it with information and resourceful tips. There are so many ways to help your child’s musical development which we shall share with you through articles, interviews, as well as musical games and quizzes, to stimulate their imagination and creativity. Beats & Pieces provides parents with sound advice from professional instrumental teachers based in Kenya, Uganda, UK and the USA. While every effort is put in place to ensure that the information is accurate and wellresearched, we would like to remind parents that all children are unique individuals who respond differently and at their own pace. We shall soon set up a website to provide more useful links. Meanwhile, parents are encouraged to interact through our Facebook page. Please email us for any enquiries. Let’s help nurture our children’s talents.



EDITOR Karis Crawford

Tel: +254 729 796333,

DESIGN & LAYOUT Arnold Njuki

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you the first edition of the Beats & Pieces e-magazine! Over the next few issues, we hope that parents of young musicians will find helpful information on learning new instruments, how to deal with issues that may come up in lessons, and other musical bits of knowledge. Our aim for this magazine is to help guide the musical families of Kenya in learning more about their child’s instrument and music lessons, as well as helping to encourage young musicians to aspire to the next level, learning to love playing their instrument and striving to gain more knowledge about music in general. We hope that you enjoy Beats & Pieces and look forward to hearing your thoughts on our first issue! Karis Crawford, LRSM Editor

Kenon Court, Kileleshwa P O Box 20319 - 00100, Nairobi 020 202 59 77 .tel 0770 64 12 52 / 0737 23 21 44 .cell Email:

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction in whole or part is prohibited without written permission. The views expressed in Beats & Pieces are not necessarily those of Music Gallery neither are the products or services appearing in advertisements endorsed by The Music Gallery.






NEWS: • Conservatoire’s New Director • ABRSM New Syllabus for Bowed Instruments • LCM Performance Awards • Aural Trainer for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch


ARTICLE WHY MUSIC MATTERS Benefits of Learning Music


INTERVIEW ELLIOT BLACK Impeccable dexterity, relentless audacity



ASK LIZ Your questions answered




EDITOR’S NOTE NEWS London College of Music (LCM): New Recital Grades


Homing In:


CM’s new Recital Grades syllabus offers candidates the opportunity to enter for graded exams focusing entirely, or predominantly, on performance. The exam comprises four pieces (chosen from the graded lists), plus either a fifth piece OR sight reading OR viva voce. Pieces do not have to be chosen from different lists, allowing flexibility in repertoire selection. Philip Aldred, Chief Examiner in Music, writes, “The new Recital Grades truly offer candidates the opportunity to be examined solely on their musical performance. They are relatively free to choose pieces which reflect their own specialism and/or love – for example a Baroque recital is possible. With the option of a fifth piece or sight reading or viva voce, the candidate has true flexibility suited to their needs.”


New Requirements and Publications for Bowed Strings:


he Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, ABRSM, has published a suite of new materials for string teachers and students: Selected Violin Exam Pieces 2012 – 2015, an innovative new repertoire series titled Violin Star, revised editions of Scales & Arpeggios and Specimen Sight-Reading Tests for all Bowed Strings.

Performance Awards - assessments by DVD submission

he London College of Music’s Performance Awards provide a new opportunity for the assessment of musical performance, whereby candidates submit a DVD of their performance rather than attending an examination venue. Performances are assessed by trained LCM examiners, using the same standards and criteria as are used for the standard graded exams, offering candidates a reliable and independent assessment of their performance standard, while benefitting from the flexibility allowed by the submission process. Performance Awards may be entered at any time of the year, and considerations such as exam venue locations, clashes with other commitments, performing in unfamiliar surroundings, etc are not applicable. The awards also offer candidates the opportunity to have their performances assessed externally before taking a graded examination.


he Kenya Conservatoire of Music welcomes a new director, Corrine Towett. Ms Towett, who plays the piano, flute, guitar, viola and sings, takes over from Atigala Luvai, who headed the institution since 2001. Corrine performs with the Nairobi and Conservatoire Orchestras and is a chorister with the Nairobi Chamber Chorus. She is a graduate of Kenyatta University, where she studied Bachelor of Music.


Coming Soon:


ook out for the new ABRSM Aural Trainer, an app available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. This exciting new app has been created to allow students to practice their aural skills between lessons and to help those preparing for the aural component of ABRSM exams. Features: Through a series of interactive challenges, pupils will develop their ability to identify and describe musical features and differences quickly and accurately. All ABRSM aural components are covered, including sight-reading and echo tests that allow the user to record their responses, listen to them back and evaluate them. Comprehensive feedback is given after every question and the progress page keeps a record of your progress.


R aisin g Musical Kids: A Guide for Parents As a musician, a music teacher, and father of three musical children, Robert A. Cutietta can view the challenge of raising musical kids from all sides. Now, in a volume written specifically for parents (with or without musical background), he draws upon his extensive research and varied personal experience to offer a

complete, practical guide to this common parenting issue. Does music make kids smarter? At what age should a child begin music lessons? Where should I purchase an instrument? What should parents expect from a child’s teachers and lessons? How do I get them to practice? Raising Musical Kids answers these and many more questions as it covers everything from assembling a good listening library for kids, to matching a child’s personality with an instrument’s personality. This is a book that parents everywhere will treasure as a complete road map for developing their child’s musical abilities.

DIARY DATES February 4th Braes ide Canta ta One Sun One World February 25th and 26th Young Music ians of the Year Prelim inarie s February 29th Braeb urn Music Festiv al March 11th Young Music ian of the Year Finals 25th March Conse rvatoi re Conce rt March 30th ABRSM Theor y Exams




WHY Music matters Benefits of Learning Music


usic helps us to make sense of the world. Through sound we can give an expressive shape to our experience. It is a pleasure and a joy for its own sake. Recent research emphasizes the benefits of learning music: • Music aids the development of speech. Singing simple songs teaches your child how language is constructed. According to Jessica Pitt from the Pre-School Music Association, UK: “Babies seem to learn best when songs are experienced through their bodies. Movement and music greatly enhance acquisition of language.” • Music helps children to learn Maths. “When



children learn rhythm, they are learning ratios, fractions and proportions,” says Professor Gordon Shaw, University of California, Irvine, after his study of seven year-olds in Los Angeles. • Music enhances social skills. “Children who take part in music develop higher levels of social cohesion and understanding of themselves and others, and the emotional aspect of musical activities seems to be beneficial for developing social skills like empathy,” says Dr. Alexandra Lamont, Lecturer in the Psychology of Music at the University of Keele. • Music enhances your child’s intellectual development. Dr. Frances Rauscher, from the University of Wisconsin, says that music “helps improve children’s ability to reason abstractly, by strengthening neural firing patterns of the brain that are relevant to both musical and spatial cognition.” • Most music teachers will tell you that music encourages self-expression and self confidence. As a non-verbal language, music can convey a complexity of emotions, and offers a means of expression to a shy or diffident child who finds it hard to communicate through speech Source:


Music is catching. Soon after my child took up playing the piano, I took up the violin. Harry Bisham, Parent

Music and Young Minds


usic participation provides a unique opportunity for literacy preparation. Whether the children are singing, playing, or listening, teachers direct them to listen and hear in new ways which exercises their aural discrimination. Playing instruments and adding movement to the lessons teaches children about sequential learning which is essential in reading comprehension. Plato once said that music “is a more potent instrument than any other for education”. You will find many teachers of young children who would agree with him. Recent research has found that music uses both sides of the brain, a fact that makes it valuable in all areas of development. Music affects the growth of a child’s brain academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Music is academic. For some people, this is the primary reason for providing music lessons to their children. A recent study from the University of California found that music trains the brain for higher forms of thinking. Second graders who were given music lessons scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who received no special instruction. Research indicates that musical training permanently wires a young mind for enhanced performance. Music is physical. Music can be described as a sport. Learning to sing and keep rhythm develops coordination. The air and wind power necessary to blow a flute, trumpet or saxophone promotes a healthy body. Music is emotional. Music is an art form. We are emotional beings and every child requires an artistic outlet. Music may be your child’s vehicle of expression. Music is for life. Most people can’t play soccer, or football at 70 or 80 years of age but they can sing. And they can play piano or some other instrument. Music is a gift you can give your child that will last their entire lives.




Elliot Black and His Shiny Companion

Elliot Black:

Impeccable dexterity, relentless audacity


1 year old Elliot Black is by all standards a brilliant flautist. The former Kentonian is currently enrolled at Edgehill University in Liverpool (UK), pursuing School Sport and Physical Education. He still plays the flute and has been awarded a £2000 music scholarship at the institution. Through an e-inter view with Mufu Luvai, he shares with Beats & Pieces about his musical journey thus far. When did you start learning the flute and why did you choose this instrument? I started learning the flute when I was 6. In my case there wasn’t a particular yearning to play the



flute – really I wanted to play the Bagpipes (something I achieved a couple of years ago) but I was persuaded that I should start on something easier to teach and to play. I was given the choice of the flute or the clarinet and decided that the flute looked more shiny!!!

far the most musical of the lot. Jordan plays the clarinet and has just been given a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, and in November performed a Concerto with the London Mozart Players at Windsor Castle in front of royalty.

Please mention your parents’ involvement in your flute studies. Any musical siblings? My parents definitely took a very active involvement in my flute studies, especially in the beginning stages – listening to me practice and giving me encouragement where needed. Neither of my parents is musical, or my extended family for that matter, but they could give me good advice in layman’s terms – “Elliot that sounds good”. Of course for more advanced playing that grew less important. I have two brothers. Both play music but I think we all agree that Jordan (my middle brother) is by

When did you attain your grade 8 and what were your plans thereafter? I attained grade 8 in year 8, when I was 13. I achieved a distinction and thought to myself that I had finally made it, and that was it. Little did I know that I was just beginning in terms of musical development. When I left to return to the UK I intended to become a professional musician. Did you play flute in high school and what was the experience playing among many other young brilliant instrumentalists in the UK? I returned to Monkton Combe

INTERVIEW School with a major music scholarship. Monkton was a fantastic school, but like Kenton I found myself right at the top straight away – I took part in most of the musical activity but was still not being challenged. I left Monkton in 2007 to go to Cirencester College – a state funded A level College. This was challenging for my music in an academic way and I am very grateful for having an exceptionally inspiring teacher in the form of Eric Richards teaching my academics in music – he really inspired me. At the same time as my move to Cirencester College, I auditioned for the Royal College of Music Junior Department in London (RCMJD). RCMJD is an amazing place for advanced musical study. Over 300 young people between the ages of 8 – 18 descend on the Royal College Building in London every Saturday for an average of 7 hours music tuition. These people come from every walk of life and every place in the UK. One of my friends who is still there flies from Northern Ireland every Friday night to London, goes to RCMJD, and then flies home on the Sunday morning. The commitment of some of the pupils is fantastic. The teaching quality is on another scale all together. I was very fortunate to have a fantastic flute teacher in Alan Baker – who is currently principle piccolo of the English National Opera. The level of quality expected was amazing. I remember having a lesson in which Alan and I spent an hour working on a single trill to make sure that it was exactly six notes long every time, and not five or seven. The symphony orchestra is another piece of inspiration; I was part of a 120 piece symphony orchestra, the quality of which is one of the best youth orchestras in Europe. In a recent survey 4 out of 5 people could not distinguish between a recording of the RCMJD Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra of the same piece. It is conducted by

Richard Dickens who conducted Nairobi Orchestra in the April Concert. Other memorable things at RCMJD included improvisation lessons, Baroque ensemble lessons, quartets and quintets and composition lessons. What is your favourite flute work? Why? Favourite composer? My three favourite pieces are: Flute and Jazz Piano Trio Suite by Claude Bolling, Speedy Gonzales by Henry Mancini and finally the Fantasy on Themes of Carmen by Bourne. The Bolling suite is a fantastic piece which is so much fun, especially because I love jazz music. It gives you the chance to play with drums and bass whilst not having to know anything about the fundamental theory behind jazz music. Speedy Gonzales is a pure show off piece which allows me to play as fast as I can and lets you have a little (friendly) show down with the pianist. The Bourne Carmen Fantasy is a marathon of a piece. Using the fantastic themes in Bizet’s opera Carmen – you get to explore them whilst challenging just about every known flute technique. My favourite composer by far is Puccini. The operas that he wrote are in my opinion perfect examples of music drama with brilliant tunes and absolutely gorgeous lilting harmony. How do others describe your flute playing technique? Every good instrumentalist has distinct strengths that stand out to override weaknesses or flaws. My Flute technique is essentially fast. The strength that I have is that I am good at sight reading - especially music which is fast. My mentality towards nerves is also good. I don’t have the same anxiety issues that other people face when they play in front of other people. These two traits allow me to be very confident about just grabbing my flute and playing anywhere from a moving

bus to a play ground to a concert hall on the spur of the moment. What type of flute do you play and how many times have you changed your instrument? Any plans for a 24-carat gold Muramatsu handmade flute? I have a fantastic flute currently. I play a Miyazawa Flute, open hole in solid silver. This flute is perfectly balanced, allowing me to achieve the tone I like, along with the speed and versatility that I enjoy. I can get a full spectrum of tonal colours on the instrument. I’ve had it for about seven years now and can’t see myself changing the instrument in the near future. The previous flute was a student Yamaha closed hole flute – which was good for the purpose that it served – someone learning to play. However as I got more advanced I needed a flute that could handle the techniques I was being forced to play. Talking of gold flutes!!! My last flute teacher (Alan Baker) had a 24-carat Gold Boston hand-made flute with a custom made head joint. I wasn’t ever allowed to touch the thing let alone play it!!! But when Alan played it – it was always one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. How have your musical pursuits molded you as a person? Music has given me the chance to express myself in a medium which is entirely controlled by me. If I’m feeling down then chances are I will go and sit under a tree and play my flute – not any particular piece, but an improvisation based on exactly how I’m feeling… It’s very effective!! Performing has made me much more confident, improved my social skills in every field from sports to music to just every day interaction. Most importantly it has given me a feeling of self worth. The discipline of practice and striving for perfection are traits which will serve any person for the rest of their life and as I see these traits coming into my personality through music.




Elizabeth has a broad and extensive teaching and performing career… as well as being a mother to three musical children


Elizabeth Childs GRSM (Hons) LRAM

s my child ready to take music lessons? Which instrument would you recommend? How do I motivate my son to practise? As parents, we often worr y about our children’s musical development. Beats & Pieces is here to help. Send your questions to and Elizabeth Childs will try to answer them. Some of the questions will be shared on this page to help other parents facing the same situation.

Elizabeth is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music (UK), where she studied flute with Gareth Morris and piano with Graeme Humphrey. Whilst at the RAM she performed regularly with all the orchestras, and was also engaged in many internal and external teaching projects, a subject that has always interested Elizabeth. International engagements have taken her to both the USA and to many parts of Europe, and she has performed extensively throughout the UK as soloist, recitalist and orchestral player. From 1987 to 1994, Elizabeth was principal flute with the Sinfonia of Scotland, Dundee Opera and Dundee and Perth Light Operatic Company which complimented her work for both ‘Travel Scotland’ and a busy teaching schedule. She has recorded programmes for the Open University and other children’s programmes and gives organ duo recitals with her husband. Elizabeth has a broad and extensive teaching 10


and performing career. She has successfully prepared pupils for scholarships to leading public schools, Junior Conservatoires and Specialist Music Schools in the UK and now has many exstudents working in the profession. She regularly directs summer schools and other courses for young wind players. Currently, Elizabeth, as well as being a mother to three musical children, is engaged in a busy teaching schedule which includes UEA in Norwich, is Flautist in Quintessimo, plays with the Aurelian Ensemble, is part of the management team for Harpenden musicale, flute Tutor for The National Children’s Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and directs several successful flute choirs. One of her main aims is to provide as many performing opportunities for all her pupils as possible and she firmly believes that encouraging children to perform enhances and benefits all areas of their education. Elizabeth regards it as an enormous privilege to sit on the Board of BIFF (British & International Federation of Festivals) along with the role as Chair to the Adjudicators Council. Elizabeth herself is in much demand as an Adjudicator both at home and abroad. In 2009 Elizabeth adjudicated in Sri Lanka and in 2010 she spent a month at the 62nd Hong Kong Schools Festival. In September 2010, she presented at an ISM Seminar about Musicale and its role in the community and in October 2010 she was invited to undertake some teaching and performing work at the Conservatoire in Nairobi. Elizabeth is also a full member of the ISM, a committee member of the Hitchin Festival of the Arts and in any spare time that exists enjoys cookery and literature. One of her latest projects is helping to support both pupils and teachers at the Conservatoire in Nairobi where she herself performed and directed some schools’ workshops in October 2010 and where she hopes to return in 2012.


Read the musical clues below and see if y


ou can f

igure ou tw

hich instrument is being described.

You'll need a reed in order to play me. My nickname is "licorice stick." Classical composer Amadeus Mozart and American composer Aaron Copland have composed concertos for me. I'm so honored!


Benny Goodman was one of many well-known musicians who played me.

You do not need a mouthpiece to play me. My nickname also means "tinker." In order to produce a sound, musicians can pluck (pizzicato) me or use a bow (arco).

I am a ________________.

Stradivari is a well-known creator of my type of instrument. I am a _____________.


I am a wind instrument. (Hint: A musician must blow air through me in order to produce a sound.) I am proud to be named after a famous conductor and composer. Even though you often see me in a marching band, I was invented to be used in a concert band setting. In order to create a specific look on the football field, I sometimes wear a "sock." My "cousins" are the Tuba and the Helicon. I usually only see them on holidays and we always fight over the mashed potatoes.


I am part of the percussion family. Traditionally, I am mostly made out of copper. Musicians use a pair of drumsticks to hit my head. Ouch! You will typically find more than one of me in an orchestra -- sometimes four! I am a _____________.

I am a __________________.

Answer Key: 1. Clarinet 2. Violin 3. Sousaphone 4. Timpani

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Beats & Pieces  

Beats & Pieces is an online magazine for parents with children, aged between 6 and 13, taking music lessons. The editorials, interviews and...

Beats & Pieces  

Beats & Pieces is an online magazine for parents with children, aged between 6 and 13, taking music lessons. The editorials, interviews and...