Striking all the right musical notes
4th April 2019
MusicStation teaches budding musicians rock and pop in a modern yet effective way. With franchises already established in Tonbridge and Maidstone and another opening at The Forum this month our music columnist Paul Dunton talks to tutors Julie Parker and James Sedge about this creative venture
What inspired you to start MusicStation?
My co-director Julie Parker and myself had written a BMus Hons degree, ‘Popular Music Performance’, for the University of Kent and we’d been running it very successfully for many years. We felt it was time to move on and use our skills and expertise to create a way of teaching rock and pop music that was thorough, rigorous and properly designed, as well as being fun, enjoyable and creative.
Julie and I have dedicated our whole lives to improving contemporary music education. We have both worked in schools, colleges and universities for the past 30 years and we’re very familiar with all the music qualifications available; and all the ways music is currently taught. We wanted to bring together the best of everything we’ve experienced and been involved with over the years, so we could design the most successful tuition method for learning rock and pop music.
So, we were inspired to start our own music school and to write a new syllabus fit for the 21st Century. With help from local businessman Rod Clark, whose son did our BMus Degree, we opened our first MusicStation in Tonbridge in 2013. We started with just one student (and she’s still with us now, studying for Grade 8 drums), and we now have over 500 per week - we’ve taught over 75,000 lessons!
Fairly early on, we developed a relationship with Trinity College London, and we became involved with writing a new grade exam syllabus for rock and pop instruments – it’s called Trinity Rock & Pop, and it was launched in 2017. This syllabus now provides the foundation for much of our teaching. We’re also a Grade Exam Centre.
Tell us more about your recent collaboration with The Tunbridge Wells Forum.
We are very excited to be working with The Forum. Jason Dormon and his team are so committed to live music and the venue has now taken on legendary status! Their support for young bands is really important and they have had such great success with recent bands such as Slaves and past bookings with Oasis, Muse, Radiohead etc. The history of the place just seeps out of the walls.
Our lessons will be held in the soundproofed studio backstage, with some sessions actually on stage. It’s an amazing opportunity for rock and pop students to learn at a venue they will hopefully play at when they’re ready.
What’s the lesson structure and types of tuition available?
Students can learn guitar, ukulele, bass, drums, keyboards/piano, vocals, songwriting, music theory and music technology, after school and at weekends.
We have developed a successful small group tuition method over the last six years – with up to four students per group, it brings down the cost of the lessons to only £14 as well as providing many benefits – confidence, collaboration, new friends and a fun atmosphere. Students are carefully streamed by age and ability.
We run weekly lessons aligned to school terms, and we offer extra events during the holidays. We also provide lessons in an increasing number of local schools.
We have 20 specialist teachers and a full-time admin team to look after all our students. Everyone gets a free trial lesson so you can have a play on an instrument, meet the teachers and see the facilities.
What will students learn?
If you follow the MusicStation method and the Trinity RandP syllabus you could go on to play professionally, or just as important, to have a life-long association with music through playing for fun and listening to music on a much deeper level. Our tuition promotes all-round musicianship, ear-training, improvisation and creativity, as well as knowledge of popular music styles.
Lessons are designed to make fast progress in small steps – and our supporting lesson materials include online resources, apps and video play-alongs, to help you progress at home.
We like to work closely with parents, and we provide every student with a free practice diary with reward stickers, so they can track work set and progress.
We run a Parents Week every half-term where they can sit in on the lesson and have a chat with the teachers. We also give expert advice on instruments and equipment, and we can get special deals for our students.
Who are the teachers?
We only use highly trained rock and pop specialist teachers who are all working musicians – and all DBS checked. Their music industry knowledge and experience is an invaluable resource.
Are there courses for adults?
Adults are always welcome to have any lessons we offer, and some parents are now having lessons with their children. We also run ‘Play it Again’ sessions that are designed especially for adults who used to play an instrument and want to start again and play in a band.
Please visit www.musicstation.pro - you can call 01732 350629 to book your free trial lesson in our studios in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Maidstone.