Music lessons - Working Smart

Work smarter, not harder. I’m sure you have heard this phrase before. But here it is in action. Work with your instrumental teacher to double the potential of the pieces you are studying. This advice is particularly relevant for children between 14 and 18 years of age. During GCSE music, students will be asked to prepare performance pieces as a part of attaining their qualification. My advice is that they should choose a piece that belongs to the syllabus of the exam board that they are following for their practical music examination.

Last year I had a student who was studying for her A level in music. She had chosen to sing for her final performance recital which needed to last 20 minutes. With some careful planning we chose pieces that not only did she enjoy but also belonged to the Rockschool Grade 8 Female Vocals syllabus. I have coached people through performance examinations using ABRSM, LCM and more recently RSL awards, Rockschool. All exams ask the candidate to prepare three pieces (four for ABRSM grade 6 and above) and also to perform a selection of supporting tests. My student was able to use the same three pieces for both her A level and a practical music exam which carries UCAS points for university. And we all know, points make prizes…

Taken from

Taken from

To put this into context, an A* grade at A level is currently worth 56 points whist the closest comparison to a distinction at grade 8 is a C grade at A level which will award you 32 points. The cost of entering for a grade 8 for all the exam boards is in the region of £95. Well worth the extra points if you can afford to do so.

So with some careful forward planning and good syllabus knowledge from your instrumental teacher, you should be able to achieve an extra music qualification when studying for GCSE and A level without even breaking a sweat.

Louisa Revolta
Bring and Mix

There are many things that I love about my job. One of them is having the chance to explore and discover amazing venues. This weekend I had the opportunity to perform for the guests at Southampton’s secret speakeasy Bring and Mix.

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Nestled in the heart of Bedford Place this intimate venue harks back to the days of prohibition and has a wonderful atmosphere with attentive and friendly service and glamorous decor. The venue is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings with the first table at 6.00pm and the final sitting at 9.15pm. Prices range from £19 - £22 per person and this is for a two hour session. As the name suggests, for this experience you bring your favourite spirits and the mixologists create unique and delicious cocktails to suit your taste. It is essential to book in advance and you may have to book ahead by a few weeks but the experience is worth the wait. Your booking confirmation will come with a secret password that you must say as you are greeted at the venue and lead upstairs to a hidden doorway inside a bookcase.

For me it is a wonderful excuse to add new songs to my repertoire and quietly people watch while I lose myself in the music and soak in the atmosphere. I enjoy singing over the hubbub of conversation and the rattling of ice cubes being shaken overhead behind the bar.

When they are not busy being a speakeasy on Friday and Saturdays, Bring and Mix are available for private hire. I first discovered the place when Women Who Do held a speed networking event there. I have also been a customer when hair and makeup stylist Miss Pearl Curl of Pearl’s Pinup Parlour teamed up with Wayne Treasure of Treasure the Moments photography to offer a photography package at Bring and Mix.

Photo by Wayne Treasure, hair and makeup by Pearl’s Pinup Parlour

Photo by Wayne Treasure, hair and makeup by Pearl’s Pinup Parlour

I have also teamed up with Vintage Keys Studio and invaded Bring and Mix with an army of microphones, musicians and cameras to offer singers a chance to record their very own live performance. Here are a couple of examples, one of them sung by the wonderful Andrea Kelso and another swing cover by yours truly.

We will be shortly announcing another date for an opportunity to come and record at Bring and Mix with pianist Steve Christie and the Vintage Keys Studio recording team.