Melissa Greyvenstein is a music educator at MG Music School near Durban, South Africa. We talked about music education, ear training and the way she uses Meludia with her pupils.
How did you learn music? What was good or bad in the way you learned?
My first teacher was a fantastic performer but not a very good teacher, and I didn’t know where else to go, so rather than quit music I just suffered it out, which wasted a lot of time and money. It ended up in my going for my first music exam at diploma level, which of course, I failed as I knew nothing about technique or music itself. I could only read well because I loved music and played everything I could get my hands on.
What are your best and worst music lesson memories?
My worst experience was having to go for the first diploma exam KNOWING I would fail. It was the most traumatic experience and for a year after that I did not touch the piano at all.
My best experience was finding a good teacher in my adult years and subsequently being able to pass that same diploma very well! She gave me back my life and it is thanks to her that I now teach.
How did you train your ear?
Needless to say, ear training did not feature in my music lessons at all. After I left school, I joined my school teacher’s band, and there I learned a lot hands-on, as she would simply give me a CD and tell me which effects she wanted me to recreate on the keyboard. This was excellent ear-training, and I would spend hours getting each part perfect.
I also did not want to teach piano anymore, because I felt I had nothing to pass on to students, and so I started doing class music for pre-primary schools. I had no music for this, and so relied heavily on memory. I was also intent on being able to sing a melody just by looking at it, and so I trained myself to sight-sing at the same time.
My students will never get all the exposure that I got (it took years to achieve) and that is why Meludia is the perfect tool!
How has Meludia changed the way you teach?
Meludia has given wonderful structure to ear-training. I place a lot of emphasis on Meludia, and encourage all my students to subscribe, even those who have only just started lessons or who are very young. Those who can’t subscribe come 30 minutes early for their lesson every week to do Meludia on my computer. From this year, I also give dictation at every theory class (to the dismay of my students! 🙂 ). I play at least three short simple phrases and they have to write them down. I then discuss with them in their individual lessons where they went wrong and how to improve. We also sing the different intervals each week so that they become more familiar.
What’s your favorite exercise on Meludia?
It is difficult to decide out of so many wonderful exercises! But one that comes to mind is The Slightest Movement. I love that exercise as the students often struggle to hear these subtle changes in music. It also trains them to listen to ALL the layers of sound, and not just the top notes! This exercise helps them to go from very easy changes to very difficult (when both notes move!).
Which is the exercise you find the most difficult?
I think it must be the one where you have to say how many notes were played at the same time. It is easy for me to hear the difference between one, or two, or three, but when it wants me to tell if there were four or five notes then I get it wrong a lot!
In your opinion, what can music education do for our world?
Music education teaches the student patience, diligence, endurance, and commitment. These qualities alone make for better people and better societies. Of course the mental stimulation of learning an instrument is also vital in this age of TV and video game addiction.
Watch Melisssa Greyvenstein’s presentation of Meludia at the SASMT (South African Society of Music Teachers) conference: