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Developing musicality using The Maestro Online

24th March 2022

According to its users The Maestro Online is:

“unlike anything else I’ve seen”

“revolutionary”

“like three months of lessons in one magazine”

Launched in 2021 at the height of the pandemic, the website uses digital resources that can support a learner’s musical development. Dr Robin Harrison is keen to collaborate with individual learners and whole organisations to help ensure that their musical learning is as engaging as it can be.

Who is Dr Robin Harrison?
The Maestro Online was founded by Dr Robin Harrison, a former academic tutor at the RNCM, Head of Music, Director of Music and Manager of Performing Arts across schools teaching learners from Nursery to Year 13.  He has also always had a healthy freelance portfolio as a classical musician, a jazz pianist (ex No. 1 in UK and 33 globally), singing, piano and organ teacher, choral director, a Royal College of Organists Academy teacher and as a diploma examiner. We spoke to Robin about The Maestro Online.

Why did you start The Maestro Online library of courses? 
There were several clear gaps in the market that needed to be addressed and I have an enormous passion for evolving pedagogy:

  1. The courses are a way to support a learner with skills like “performing musically” and displaying great “musicianship”.  The courses don’t teach entire songs with full printed sheet music or replace 1-1 learning, they enhance it.  Courses enable students to gain better marks in grade examinations, by becoming more rounded musicians.  They help deepen a person’s relationship with music and learning.
  2. Those that sign up for online courses in general, particularly apps, seem to really enjoy their independent learning and progress well at the beginning.  Inevitably there is a point at which they need some assistance.  Having a real person offering zoom and email support behind courses is more than most apps can do.
  3. Apps can have a huge bank of songs, but what if you have an area that you need a course on?  Library members can request their own courses.
  4. Independent learning has always been at the core of our most successful students and lockdowns encouraged this further.  This aspect of learning is crucial for musicians and something to maintain and further develop, not lose.
  5. There are few structured improvisation courses that teach musicianship and understanding through playing (renaissance/baroque/classical and rock/pop/jazz). But we offer this.
  6. In this day and age, why should learners explore the world of ‘sound’ through just ‘visual’ (books). Why not have digital books with integrated teaching videos that pop up on each page, combining the best of both worlds?
  7. Parts of the courses are solfège/Kodaly inspired, but incorporate, and grow out of, more relevant material for a broader range of ages and cultures.
  8. There need to be highly structured courses for advanced skills too, such as transposition and improvisation at diploma level.  The majority of apps and courses target the beginner only. We can offer support for a learner whole musical journey.

How can Music Maestro Online help learners to develop their musical skills?
The courses start by developing the ear through snippets of famous popular songs/tunes. Classical musicians are often in awe of session musicians that simply sit down and play, yet those session musicians often wish they could follow the dots a bit more too.  Both skills are useful.  Many learners wishing to enhance their musicianship and ‘polish’ their performances need more of the session musician qualities alongside a deeper understanding of the musical theory and structure within their repertoire. The Maestro Online offers engaging ways to develop essential high-level musicianship skills.

How could a learner supplement their in-person music tuition with The Maestro Online?
Members of the library supplement their in-person music tuition by having access to all courses.  They have the opportunity to become more creative, more experimentally, deepen their understanding of music in general and to become confident creators of music and not just recreators.

How can Music Mark members use The Maestro Online?
Music Mark members can join the library as individuals via www.the-maestro-online.com.  However, larger organisations may well wish to collaborate. I can write courses in conjunction with schools and music hubs according to their specific needs, from primary school solfège Kodaly based skills using more modern relevant repertoire, to advanced courses in keyboard harmony, Baroque and Classical improvisation and more.  Courses are bespoke to individual needs and then special packages created as a partnership.  Costs are adapted accordingly. Any hub wishing a free pass to the library to view the content is always welcome. Enquiries can be made via the website www.the-maestro-online.com.

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