This week, Experience Days bring you something a little different – piano lessons. Whether you want to be the next Beethoven, Jools Holland or Jamie Cullum, this lesson could be your starting note to a musical future! We caught up with talented pianist and piano teacher – Chris Harvey, to find out a bit more!
Hi Chris, please explain your successful journey that lead you to where you are now with your music school.
I started playing the piano when I was 7 years old and was initially 100% self-taught during those formative years. As I was growing up I began performing live at pubs and clubs, which was pretty nerve wracking for a 10 year old!
A few years later I started to work at various local music shops and eventually found my way into recording sessions for studios. During this time and at Music College I got to make a lot of useful contacts in the Music Industry, many of whom I still work with to this day.
Fast forward to today and I can look back on a music career which has spanned 25+ years, during which time I’ve played for and worked alongside some of the best artists in the Music Industry, composed for TV/Film and helped literally hundreds of people to reconnect with their own music experience via my unique teaching method.
During my time as a professional musician I found myself meeting a great number of adults who wished to return to music – or even give the piano a go for the first time! So around 15 years ago, I decided to form Chris Harvey Music to provide a unique and new way to experience music learning.
I came to realise how many people have a great interest & desire to learn to play the piano and enjoy making their own music, but for whatever reason had not yet had a chance to fulfill their dreams. I decided I could help by providing a new kind of lesson to people who were after a different learning experience to the usual traditional and often ‘stuffy’ approach to learning music!
My students come from all walks of life: e.g. stressed parents & company directors, students, retirees – and everyone in between! All have found a new joy in learning with my laid back approach to the piano, my aim is not to turn folks into concert pianists (unless of course that’s what they’d like!), but more to help them discover their own musicality in their own way and develop a hobby which will provide a lifetime of enjoyment.
I immensely enjoy the challenge of tailoring each lesson specifically to each student. Everyone is inherently different and unique so this is always reflected in how my lessons work – we’ll generally start by deciding on a first tune to learn, which is always the students choice! By using music that means something to the learner they’re more connected to it, which makes the entire process more fun – it’s also a way to learn all the principles of music in an entertaining and rewarding way.
What has been the biggest or most memorable lesson you’ve taught.
Well, I’m not really able to name names on this one(!) – suffice to say that amongst my pupils have been Olympic Medallists, Worldwide Platinum selling recording artists and Top 40 successful songwriters….
Ooh intriguing, OK so Chris, how can your students really get the most out of your teaching and please tell us a bit more about your lessons.
For students to really get the most from the piano lessons all they need is an open mind and some regular playing time! Learning with my method doesn’t require hours of mind-numbing practice and scales – all students need is to develop the habit, is to just sit in front of the piano/keyboard every day (or couple of days) for 10-15 mins and momentum of progress will soon build up.
As the lessons always encourage exploration, curiosity and experimentation, this small amount of playing time is soon increased gladly by the student as they become more and more fascinated by the wonderful gift of music they are giving to themselves.
My number 1 tip is this: ‘Teach someone and they’ll play for a day, show them how to learn and they’ll play for life…”
As regards which of my experiences I’d recommend – I offer single one hour lessons and courses of 5 or 10 lessons. An initial lesson or two is enough to provide a student with a direction and a customised plan just for them. If things go well in the initial lessons (which they usually do!), students are then free to book a block of these lessons at a discounted price. I still have many of my original students from years back who have grown immeasurably and now perform live regularly, have signed record deals and become fully fledged musicians in their own right. We also of course have my students who are still just playing for fun – and that’s really what matters!
Tell us a bit more about you and why our experience goers should have a lesson with you.
I guess my main strength is my experience! Having worked in many areas of music at many different levels, also whilst having a foot in both camps of traditional music education and a more self-taught/self starter approach I’m able to accommodate many different types of learner.
I’ve also studied in fields such as NLP and Musicology, all of which have enabled me to bring something very unique and special to the field of Piano & Music Instruction.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently looking into the idea of bringing my unique lessons to a much wider audience via Skype/instructional videos and also beginning work on a new tuition book package. I’ll also be expanding my teaching of Music Technology, to help those with Home Studio set-ups get the most out of their equipment and realise their musical ambitions.
Thanks for talking to us today Chris. I feel inspired to take a seat on the pianist stool!