Thursday, 17 January 2058

Robin's Experience and Style

Robin Thornton - Teacher

At a young age, I decided that I wanted to be a Musician. I did not believe that I could support myself with one instrument, so I set about training as a multi-instrumentalist. To this end, I have specialist knowledge of all styles of Singing, Guitar, Piano, Bass Guitar and Drum Kit. 

I began teaching in 1993 and progressed to owning my own studio with a staff, assisting me. I found the demand for my teaching grew and decided to reduce my shop and employment duties, to focus publishing Teaching materials. I now teach from my home in Banchory (Aberdeenshire, Scotland), providing individual, person centred, lessons both in my studio and online. I also provide elocution lessons to foreign business-people seeking to speak with British accents.

My Educational path has taken me through a Teaching Diploma, an Undergraduate, which included components in Kodaly and Classroom Teaching, and a Masters Degree.

I describe my teaching as, “Teaching classically, although not necessarily Classic”. Lessons are taught from a classical foundation - not limiting the growth of the student - exploring the music which currently interests the student.

Robin Thornton - Composer

I came to Composition later in life, having established my Teaching Practice, in the
North East of Scotland, in 1993.  To begin with, my Performance Career, showed most
success with Bands culminating in 144 concerts in 2007.  I then went on to study my
Undergraduate Degree - where I had works performed at workshops by The Edinburgh
Quartet and the Auriga Quintet  Both ensembles commented on the intricacy of the inner
parts which I wrote.

I went on to study under Phillip Cooke for my Masters Degree where I had works by Paul
Mead and Sir Michael Berkley.  I established my voice as a Reductionist Composer.
 Reductionism is a branch of Post Minimalism.  Reductionism develops in a direction
opposed to the Post Minimalist style of Adams and Nyeman.  Post Minimalism uses
techniques derived from Minimalism, in a broader lyrical style.  Reductionism is austere.
 One motif is composed and all other material in the piece is derived from that material.  
Nothing is added. My interest lies in how the smallest material can be re-imagined to
make large scale works.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Those who can: do. Those who can't; get lessons. Those who can do and empower others, teach.

Those who can; do. The who can’t...get lessons. Those who can do andempower others: Teach.

My earliest memories were sitting in my Grandfather's house, playing with the instruments he had brought from his travels: Sitars, Bugels and Drums of all varieties. I decided that an single instrument would not support me financially, so - aged eight - I set out to to be a multi-instrumentalist. A broad knowledge of many instruments informs my teaching, although I specialise in teaching, Piano, Guitar, Bass, Drums and Composition. I went on to own a multi-purpose teaching facility with tutors employed to assist me in my teaching. Upon moving into the marital home, we decided to focus the tuition at home and online and that is where I now teach. 

In 1993 I began teaching group lessons in school. After leaving school, I began training for the classroom, but I did not feel I could impact the individual in such a large group environment. While maintaining strong links with school curriculum, I began to pursue my career in individual instruction. My home based tuition serves approximately sixty five pupils at a time and my online lessons support many more, as differences in time zones allows me to teach while UK Students are at school. I have taught students in Australia, the Middle East, France, Russia and a variety of locations around the British Isles. I have also taught Home Schooled children, Singing, Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. With such a large cohort of students I offer a variety of syllabuses and qualifications. These are embarked upon at the student's request - rather than the student feeling pushed. This makes for happier and more successful students. 

Lessons are available online. The catchment area where I work as a tutor, covers Banchory, Aboyne, Aberdeen and Stonehaven. With advancements in technology, I am now a teacher in Saudi Arabia, Russia, France, Australia, England and a variety of lessons throughout Scotland. Online lessons are taught person-to-person, in real time. Online Lessons work via video call. At your lesson time, simply sit at your computer with your instrument. I will video call you and the lesson will take place in the comfort of your own home. Due to international time zones, lessons may be scheduled at a time which suits you best. 

My philosophy of teaching is, “Those who can do, those who can’t should get lessons and those who can do and can inspire others, Teach”. My qualifications - MMus, BMus (Hons.), ATCL (Dip.), MISM - support Teaching Methods which do not limit Student progress. While studying for my Teaching Diploma, I studied performance under Peter Stewart from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I later went on to study Composition with Philip Cooke - formerly of Oxford University. During my studies, I covered Music to the highest levels and specialised in the Principles and Practise of Learning and Assessment. As a Performer, I worked with Ceilidh Stomp, before moving to LOKi. My Performance Career has taken me to Open Air Staged events, in front of an audience of 30,000, high quality Venues including the AECC and peaked in 2007 with 144 Performances in that year. I refer to myself as a Teacher of Music, not a Musician who Teaches. The Performance Career was fun, but it always supported my Teaching Practice. 

While experienced as a Performer, my heart is in Teaching and I stopped performing to focus on my Research into the field of Student/Teacher Communication: teaching the way the Student wants to be taught.

Friday, 2 March 2018

The weather outside is frightful,

If your lesson's by night fall,

We can do your lesson fine,

Go online, go online, go online.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Weather announcement.

Hi all,

It is snowing today and forecast for more snow during the week.  Driving conditions are not too bad and the drive to my Studio is ok.  Online lessons are an option and they work very well. 

It you would like to try online lessons, please email and we can set them up either using Skype or Google Hangouts.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Why learn Music? What does a Music Teacher actually teach?

Why learn Music?

Students and Parents alike ask the question, "Why learn Music?"  Is it just about learning the instrument and what happens if there are no aspirations to become a Professional Musician?

Music teaches communication skills

I ask each of my Student how they would define music.  This gives them a chance to be heard.  While no Dictionary of Music defines Music, it is good to let Students explore the question and have an opportunity to answer it.  Most come close to Edgar Varese' definition, "Music is organised sound".  That is his definition and that is good.  Each Musician has their own definition.  What follows is mine.

Music is the Art of convicting the unconvinced.  

Music - coming from the Muses 
Art - a choice regarding expression
Convicting - changing the behaviour of 
Unconvinced - those whom are not convinced that they should do what we are telling them to do.

Music is the Art of Convicting the Unconvinced

Music gets its name from the Muses - Zeus' daughters from Greek Mythology.  There is some debate as to whether there were nine or three, but for the purposes of this piece, I will say there were three.  In the same way as describing something as Icelandic means that it comes from Iceland - the "ic" denoting ownership.  The "ic" at the end of Music means that it comes from the Muses.

Music is a word which comes from Greek and was one third of the Greek school curriculum: they taught Maths, Gym and Music.  Maths covered the teaching of Logic, Gym, teaching physical fitness and Music covered the teaching of Language, Drama, Communication - both Verbal and Non-Verbal - Presentation Skills and, of course, Manipulating Sound. Over the years, these subjects have been separated.  I use Music as a vehicle to empower Students in these subject areas, to complement their school curriculum.  

An illustration of how Music empowers good communication

Many world Religions and Mythologies have stories of Gods on mountains, communicating with the People down below.  The People at the foot of the mountain are behaving in a way that will harm them and the God communicates with them, to turn them from there current behaviour.  The People are convinced that what they are doing is correct and are unconvinced that they need to change.  Music has been defined as "The Art of Convicting the Unconvinced".  A conviction - when I ask my Students - is normally understood as a Jail Sentence, or some other punitive measure.  The conviction actually comes earlier, it is the attempt to alter the behaviour.  The punitive measure comes after the attempted conviction.  As the God communicates from the mountain top, they are attempting to convict the People to change their behaviour.  They are often unconvinced, so different methods need to be employed.  The same thing happens when we talk to our Children, Spouses or Colleagues. 

The image drawn by Greek Mythology is of Zeus pacing his house on Mount Olympus, preparing his speech, to the People.  His daughters are in the living room; one is sitting at a vanity table, one on the sofa and one in a chair.  The Daughter at the Vanity Table is wearing a pretty dress and is doing her make up: she is interested in Aesthetics (what we communicate physically).  The Daughter on the Sofa has her Earphones in: she is interested Manipulating Sound (Sonic Communication).  The Daughter on the chair is reading a book, it could be Poetry, it could be Prose: she is interested in Rhetoric (how Written and Verbal Communication is constructed).  As Zeus walks through the Living Room - sure that he is prepared - the first Daughter shrieks, "Dad, you can't go out dressed like that!"

As the Daughter, interested in Aesthetics, sets about making Zeus look like the message he is communicating - the Zeus Beard, the Zeus Robes and arms open in a physical show of power - the Daughter interested in Sonic Communication checks that the Microphones are set up, so that the People can hear the message.  She will return later. 

The Daughter who is interested in Rhetoric reads Zeus' speech, checking that the argument follows the proper format of Overview, Argument, Counter Argument and Conclusion - Hypothesis, Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis in Aristotelian parlance - and includes poetic  devices which will help the message stick in the memory of the People.  

Once the Aesthetics and Rhetoric of Zeus' message are formed, the Daughter interested in Sonic Communication returns are teaches Zeus that the way we give a message is part of giving the message.  She teaches Dynamics, Articulation and Phrasing.


It is often thought that Dynamics, Articulation and Phrasing - on a Musical Instrument - are the only things that a Music Teacher teaches.  It is true that these are part of what I teach, but as much time is spent teaching my Students about the Aesthetics of Performance and Rhetoric.  An holistic education of Aesthetics, Rhetoric and Sonic Communication is what I teach everyone who gets lessons from me.  This gives courage to each Student and empowers them to become more confident Communicators.  They are experienced and brave in communicating in a broad range of settings, able to communicate their message both verbally and in written form and control their emotions enough to say what they want to say, in the way that complements the message. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

I am excited to be writing another book and wanted to share the introductory material with you.
I will share excerpts as I write.

About the Author
Robin Thornton has developed unique teaching methods drawn from a career in
Music Education dating from 1993.  He owns a Private Teaching Practise which
caters to Online Lessons worldwide as well as local Students who visit his studio
in Banchory, in the North East of Scotland.

Private Lessons can be booked at

Robin’s motto is to teach Classically, although not necessarily Classical.  
Through his teaching, you will have developed Classical skills and be able to
apply them to your favourite styles of Music.  

Johann Joseph Fux wrote a key text in teaching Counterpoint.  The book lays
out a conversation between a Student and a Teacher.  The Student asks and
the Teacher answers: the reader learns.
Robin Thornton MMus, BMus (Hons.), ATCL (Dip.), MISM uses the same,
conversational, style to teach.  Making high quality teaching accessible in
personable way.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

I am proud to announce my first publication for KDP.

The Ten Core Beats of Drumming (building your Drumming from the core) will teach you to develop as a Drummer, from the core. Ten Beats are taught, which make up the basis for ten popular styles of music. Within each lesson, the Beat and a complementary Fill is taught. Each Beat has been carefully selected to develop your understanding of Beat, Co-ordination, Time Signature and Irregular Groupings. 

Robin M. Thornton has Teaching experience dating from 1993 and wealth of experience, both Academically as well as a Performance Career which culminated in 144 Performances in 2007. Each lesson, taught in The Ten Core Beats of Drumming (building your Drumming from the core), represents the same high quality musicianship and context which is enjoyed by Students who are taught at Robin's studio, or receive private tuition online. 

The Ten Core Beats of Drumming (building your Drumming from the core) is the first of many titles in a series, teaching the core of music learning. Other titles include the Core of Improvisation, The Ten Core Styles for Piano Players, Ten Core skills for Guitarists and Ten Core approaches to Bass Guitar.

Robin's Experience and Style

Robin Thornton - Teacher At a young age, I decided that I wanted to be a Musician. I did not believe that I could support...