Category Archives: teaching

AI thoughts in Galway

I’m in Galway, at a coffee shop that also sells nice minimalist, School of Life type stuff that appeals to me. Last time I was here, years ago, before the thing, there was a record player upstairs and I had an interesting conversation with a masters student about the book I was reading at the time, Ian McEwan’s ‘Machines Like Me’.

The ideas played with in McEwan’s wonderful book are now very much in the ether. I just saw on Twitter that a Snapchat influencer has made an AI of herself using 2000 hours of her content. Users can chat with her avatar for $1/min.

What might a piano teacher AI look like? Imagine it having access to all of the pedagogical writings, all the blogs, all the articles in journals and magazines, all the YouTube videos, all the TikToks…

I could ask it to recommend ways to practise a particular piece and it could put together a 10 minute overview drawing from all the available sources.

I don’t know if a child would have the patience to deal with it in isolation. I do think I’d consider subscribing to something that could help me navigate a learning pathway with individual students. “They’ve played these pieces, they liked this one best, they found this aspect difficult…give me five options for the next piece they should learn.”

It’s going to be really interesting to see what will happen in the arena of education over the next two years.

Asked Seth’s AI about work…

I’ve been following Seth Godin’s writing for the better part of two decades. He is consistently insightful and interesting, especially around the question of what constitutes good work.

He just released an AI interface on his blog that responds to a reader’s questions with reference to his thousands and thousands of posts and podcasts and other writings.

I framed a question that seemed relevant to a lot of people’s experience of the world of work these days:

I’m a piano teacher in a school. People in my position were at one time paid on an incremental salary like classroom teachers. After the financial crash these incremental contracts were stopped. I’ve become demotivated by the realisation that, without incremental pay rises each year, my work is being devalued. What can I do? How should I think about this?

Here’s the response that the AI generated:

Seth Godin
Seth Godin

It’s understandable to feel demotivated when your work isn’t financially rewarded the way it used to be. However, it’s essential to separate your value and motivation from your salary. Take a moment to remember why you do what you do – the love for teaching and the impact you make on your students’ lives. Monetary rewards and bonuses can sometimes demotivate people, leading to feelings of unfairness and a lack of appreciation.

Redefine success and motivation in non-monetary terms. Focus on the respect, freedom, and responsibility that you have in your role as a piano teacher. Embrace continuous incremental improvement, and stay committed to becoming better at your craft. Invest your energy in providing exceptional experiences for your students and build a positive reputation. Let this be your driving force.

Remember that your true value lies in nurturing the talent and passion of your students. Shift your focus from salary increments to the impact you create, and let that be the motivation that fuels your passion for teaching. Your worth isn’t solely based on monetary rewards but rather the difference you make in the lives of those you teach.

Saturday 7 January 2023

I’ve started listening to Jeremy Denk’s memoir, ‘Every Good Boy Does Fine’. He writes beautifully about music and it’s fascinating to hear his reminiscences about his musical education and his life’s journey.

We’re also back to school! Students were a bit thin on the ground as, it being just a two day week at the end of the Christmas holidays, many of them were still away with families in exotic locations. It was good to see the half dozen or so that I did. Elongated breaks meant I could chat with fellow teachers without the usual feeling of rushing off to collect a child from their classroom to bring them down to the music block for their lesson. (Something I’m going to try this year is asking each student to go and tell the next one to come down to me. They’ll hopefully enjoy the responsibility and it’ll give me a valuable few minutes to make notes and get ready for the next lesson.)

I’m excited by the prospect of teaching more pieces by Robert Schumann this term. The ‘Little Study’ from his Album for the Young is on the Royal Irish Academy of Music Grade 3 syllabus this year. I’ve been applying the Whole Beat Metronome Practice to Schumann’s music with very satisfying results (namely, it renders the pieces actually playable). I’m also working on his second Op. 28 Romance with a Grade 8 student and both pieces require a sustained melody be foregrounded against an undulating texture. I’ve been studying Penelope Roskell’s authoritative book ‘The Complete Pianist’ and gleaning some helpful insights that I will be able to use with my students.

Advent calendar: 7

Today I’ve got two great Christmas tunes for beginner piano players to enjoy — ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’ and ‘Frosty The Snowman’. This video will help you learn them by heart (there’s no music reading required). Have fun, and get everybody to join in and sing with you at Christmas time 🙂

Click here for more information on my music teaching.


 I teach piano, guitar, clarinet, and music theory to students of all ages. I also offer piano accompaniment to exam candidates.

  • music lessons
    I teach one-to-one with students of all ages and stages. Maybe you’re a complete beginner; maybe you had lessons as a child and have been meaning to get back into it; maybe you have a family member or a friend who’d like some lessons; a child who has a Junior Cert or Leaving Cert practical coming up… My aim is to foster a love of music in a relaxed and enjoyable way…

  • composer / musician / facilitator
    I have helped deliver music-making and songwriting workshops to primary schools in Ireland and the UK, ranging in length from a single visit to two weeks. I worked on a number of great projects with Tim Steiner, a leader and educator in this field.
  • music facilitator with Helium
    I helped develop interactive performance pieces and workshops for very young children with Helene Hugel.
  • Education & Community Outreach Assistant at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, 2004-2007
    I organised education events at the NCH and around the country; masterclasses, open rehearsals, parent-and-toddler workshops, primary school improvisation & songwriting workshops, guided tours.