Shade Black Radio Interview
Shade was recently interviewed for an internet radio broadcast by musician and colleague Paul Roberts. We thought you might find some of the questions and answers interesting and enjoyable.
Q: I overheard one of your pupils saying to one of his friends, how ‘cool’ it was to have a music teacher called Shade Black. I’m sure many people have some curiosity about you having such a charismatic and interesting name. Tell us more?
A: It’s simple really...that’s my name. But, yes, people tend not to forget it.
Q: You have told me that you will teach pupils from all age groups. What is a good age for a young beginner to start learning an instrument?
A: Yes - I will teach people of any age. Nobody is too young or too old to start having a tactile and practical connection with music, especially through playing an instrument. On the whole however, there is little to be gained from starting a young child before the age of about 6 years. But most importantly no one is ever too old!
Q: I know this is an age old topic, but what do you think of examinations for music students?
A: I certainly don’t insist anyone take graded examinations or diplomas, but for those who wish to do so I am more than happy to make sure they are well prepared. People like to achieve things and have this recognised in the form of a certificate and affords an independent critique of their progress at that point in their musical development.
Q: Tell us about some of the concerts you have given?
A: Well – one of the most recent was in the town where I live so I had friends, family, duet partners and pupils in the audience, so I really had to be on my mettle and deliver the goods. Indeed, there were a couple of my own student friends from my days at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. This is a real challenge making sure everything is of a very high standard especially when performing on home territory. Although as Robert Schumann said ‘’Always play as if a Master was listening’’
Q: And there was another concert you mentioned earlier that had a quaint element about it.
A: Oh, yes – that was in a church in Liverpool, and I was sat next to the bench in the choir stalls where Paul McCartney had sung as a choirboy. I sneakily played a couple of Beatles songs during my rehearsal and it certainly made people smile.
Q: You have some fairly strong views on music schools.
A: I do indeed and these are twofold. Firstly the reason they exist at all is for the principal commercial benefit of the owner and therefore fees are dissipated by cost of premises and commissions. turnover of teachers is often quite high and it is self evident that this is counterproductive to ongoing pupil relationships. the second reason is that the environment of a commercial music school is often unfavourable. pupils are often taught in small rooms quaintly called 'studios' where commercial space is being maximised to the full potential of the owner. I visited one recently in the south of England and the noise from adjacent studios with both bass guitar and percussion lessons happening at the same time as my friend is teaching the piano, was, to say the least , distracting. I teach at home or at the pupil's home where they can have my undivided attention, therefore we can both concentrate and realise our full potential.
Q: Do you have any comments on the use of, and the effect of, computers and the internet on music teaching?
A: You seem to be homing in on some of my pet subjects - well done. I am a great advocate of wholesome and constructive use of computers and the internet but- and it is a big "but" there is quite simply no substitute for what can simply be termed 'good old fashioned music teaching'. Without talking for two hours on this let me summarise by saying that surely the average parent is going to be delighted to see their offspring doing something practical and creative that doesn't involve the use of a mobile phone, a tablet or anything else, with a screen. it is more than well documented how learning a musical instrument is highly beneficial to our mental and physical well being.