Pete Napper | Music In Education in lockdown

Our third year BMus student gives us insight into studying Music In Education and online teaching tips during lockdown... 


Third-year BMus Popular Music Performance student Pete Napper is one of the programme's top students. 

As a guitarist, alongside fellow student Vinnie Minotto, his passion for playing, writing and teaching rock music at the heavier end of the spectrum is unrivalled. The duo's love for the guitar has led to them launching their own educational YouTube channel full of riffs and insight into getting the best from the instrument. 

Alongside their channel and playing with various bands, both Pete and Vinnie studied the Music In Education module as the Covid-19 lockdown was introduced.

We catch up with Pete to learn more about his experiences on the module and, as more students and teachers look to engage remotely, his essential advice for online learning. Look out for our interview with Vinnie coming soon too... 

What led to you taking this module as part of your study?

Teaching has always been a big part of my musical life. Before I moved to London, my job was working as a guitar teacher at the very music studio where I first took guitar lessons growing up. 

My first guitar teacher was always incredibly inspiring to me while I was first learning to play, and he constantly kept me motivated to keep pushing myself with my playing and continuously helped foster my learning and musical development. 

Most musicians have had a moment where a teacher has inspired them deeply, whether it be a regular weekly teacher, or a one-time masterclass with a musical celebrity. It is quite a magical moment, and I’ve always wanted to be able to pass that onto people learning music, and in my case, the guitar." 

So when the options for third-year modules were presented to me, Music in Education was the obvious choice.

Could you talk about your submissions for the module at the end of the term?

My submissions consisted of two components. The first was a portfolio – an essay reflecting upon my learning of the pedagogic (teaching) theories and practical music education skills throughout the module, and a scheme of 10 lesson plans applying those theories and skills. 

The next component was an observed teaching session – a 30-minute delivery of a music-related lesson taken from one of the 10 lesson plans from my portfolio. This component had to be moved online due to the lockdown, so I recorded a one-to-one guitar lesson via Skype and submitted the video file to Canvas that way.

The summative submissions for the Music in Education module were not easy, they presented me with quite a challenge in critical thinking, planning, and reflection upon all of the lectures we had throughout the year, in both Semester A and Semester B.

I realised just how much I had learned from this module while putting together the portfolio and the observed teaching session, and felt a sense of pride and self-satisfaction upon their completion due to the challenge they gave me.  It was a truly immersive, interesting, and beneficial module.

For any students or teachers, what are the most important things to consider when delivering music education?

To start I would say to always remember that each and every person learns differently, and just because a certain teaching method worked for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for the next.

Every person also has an individual personality type that will also factor into how they learn.

As a teacher gets to know their students better, they should be able to cater their delivery to benefit every student’s learning style as best as possible, and be fully inclusive of everyone in the learning environment, be it physical or virtual."

Another important thing to consider is not adopting the antiquated ‘Master & Apprentice’ teaching model. This can be beneficial, but in today’s teaching world it is largely outdated and inefficient. View your students as people on the same ‘level’ as yourself, just at different points in their musical journey than you, and you are here to help them along the way through your experience and knowledge. This lends to a very inclusive learning environment.

How do you ensure you remain engaging when delivering lessons online?

The key is to have a concise, thought-out plan for the lesson.

If you are teaching an hour-long instrumental lesson online, you need to have a structure that allows the lesson to flow nicely from one thing to another. I personally would divide that structure into 15-minute sections, four in each lesson. For example – The first 15 minutes have the student perform warm-up exercises on the instrument and review progress on what was covered during the last lesson. The second 15 minutes introduce, explain, and demonstrate the new concept for the current lesson, taking care to make sure the student understands everything. The third 15 minutes give the student practical exercises that apply the concept just taught, and work through the exercises with them. The final 15 minutes, recap upon the concept just covered and reiterate the exercises they have to practice to make sure they retain the concept knowledge moving forward.

If too much time is spent on one thing, this can lead to disinterest and loss of engagement for both student and teacher alike. 

What are the biggest challenges within online learning? Are there opportunities this presents which you don’t get when delivering lessons in a traditional setting?

I’ve found through experience the biggest challenge within online learning is the obvious one – the lack of being physically present in the room with the student. It is more challenging to explain things and demonstrate concepts because you are limited by a camera and a microphone.

As a teacher, it is impossible to physically correct a person’s technique through a computer, and you cannot write concepts out on paper for them to immediately see, you’d have to type them out and send the file to them. Another challenge with online learning is the fact that you are dictated by the reliability of each person’s internet connection.

If one person’s internet drops out unexpectedly for 10 minutes, that is 10 minutes of the lesson lost.

Challenges cannot be completely avoided, but you can be largely prepared and ready for them if you’ve planned for the lesson properly. In terms of opportunity, online teaching/learning presents a way to test your ability to deliver a lesson in a concise and understandable manner, as online learning demands this due to the lack of physical presence."

This ties back to the importance of a concise lesson plan and structure when dealing with online learning.

What’s keeping you busy music-wise? And what’s next for you?

Currently I'm busy recording guitar parts for a couple of the bands I’m involved with, as there are upcoming albums in the works for them. I’m also recording videos for my YouTube channel ‘Pete & Vinnie Play’, which is a channel I co-run with my good friend and fellow ICMP student (soon to be alumni) Vinnie Minotto.

In addition to this, I’m always practising my technique – alternate picking & legato mainly – to keep my chops up to scratch, and I’ve been writing music for a metal band Vinnie and I are putting together. Always loads to do with music, no excuses for laziness! Now that my time as an ICMP student is coming to a close, next I am going to put my focus upon all the things I’ve been working on – writing music for the bands I’m involved with, recording videos for the YouTube channel, continuing to practice and improve upon my craft, continue teaching students online using my new-found skills and knowledge from the Music in Education module, until in-person lessons are possible again, and last but certainly not least - being ready to hit the ground running when the gig scene starts back up again. It can’t come soon enough!

Visit Pete & Vinnie's YouTube channel for more.

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Guitar Courses
by Jim Ottewill
May 25, 2020
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