Here's the thing...

  Sunday, February 27, 2022 by Therese Porter | Mid-Term News

Why does musicianship class matter? 

The answer to this question is best answered with a metaphor.  A house can only stand and remain standing, with a good solid foundation.

So the 30 minutes with an instrumental tutor are to monitor and develop the physiological skills required to master an instrument.  During lesson time the WSMD tutors must instruct a student in the the ways to use their body to create dynamics, tone, and speed.  Without musicianship classes, time must be spent on how to read and interpret the score.

My students will know all too well that the magical balance for clear, natural and expressive phonation depend on the unique interaction of their vocal tract with breath.  We don't learn how to sight read the score together.  We DO monologue text because the text contains the meaning. 

My piano students learn how to hold their posture, their hands, and how to achieve the tactile connection with the keys that produce dynamics, staccato, legato.  

What we do in musicianship class...

“…for me, it’s a complete distraction of the mind, and very creative.  They always come out happy.  They have sport on Saturdays too, but musicianship is almost like mindfulness in that it takes them into a window of focus.  It’s gentle, creative and nice.  They both have music in school but it’s a big class and the penetration is limited so progress is slow.  The class would be lucky to be able to play one tune together by the end of the term.  In the WSMD musicianship class there is real progress and joy” Tim Cummins, parent.

Musical concepts are taught though active participation in singing, playing games, playing musical instruments especially percussion, and listening to music. Skills in pitch and rhythm are developed in the same way, with lots of practice of singing melodies , performing/composing rhythms as an integral part of the classes.  Solfa names and rhythm syllables are used to great effect in the development of these skills. The students also learn to write  down the rhythm and melodies. The ultimate aim is to develop the ability to hear in ones head the music seen on the page and to be able to write down in musical notation what is played or sung.

The role of the tutor

Tutors must have teaching skills that create psychological safety in the classroom.   In my class, where students are primary school age, and are at beginner level, there is no wrong answer.   All answers reveal what is known and even better...what is not known! To date, the students in my class are now proficient in tapping simple rhythms; singing the major scale with hand signs; understanding the building blocks of the major scale and reading the grand staff.  We hope to dazzle you with a performance as an ensemble in the May concerts.

Other options

Busy weekend schedules make Saturdays a challenge, but if you are free we have 1:00pm for beginner and 8:45am for advanced.  Tutor Tomas O'Durcain is now offering a class each Wednesday for intermediate level students, particularly those preparing for an exam.  If you would like to learn more about this class, please contact the school at 0863265820.

Alternatively, students who prefer one-to-one tuition can add 15 minutes or more to their lesson time in order to work through musicianship books with their tutor.


The physiological control of the instrument is a conduit to the self expression that musicianship interprets.

- Kerry Anderson, BMusEd, MAPVP

Director, Wicklow School of Music & Drama - Celebrating 20 years!

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