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About Tom K
Tom is a multi-instrumentalist based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, who has an undergraduate degree in folk and traditional music, as well as a masters degree researching the mandolin and composition, both from Newcastle University. He is an experienced teacher on his main instruments, mandolin and tenor banjo, but also plays and teaches tenor guitar, 5-string banjo and mandola, to pupils of all ages and abilities. Tom has played music since an early age, but settled on mandolin and tenor banjo as his main focus about 13 years ago and has not looked back since. When not teaching, he regularly performs at festivals and venues across the UK and Europe with his bands Pons Aelius and Assembly Lane.
Mandolin/ tenor banjo Lessons
Tom teaches mandolin and tenor banjo to all ages and abilities, from beginner to degree level. Tom is flexible in catering to the needs of a specific pupil.
A typical lesson can include:
- Learning new repertoire from a diverse range of genres and traditions.
- Improving the right and left-hand technique, tone production, speed and fluency of playing.
- Working to improve the student’s ability at learning by ear, as well as from notation.
- Advice on playing with other musicians.
- An in-depth look at ornamentation and how to implement this in a tune.
- Improving chord knowledge and how to accompany tunes and songs.
- Improvisation and composition specific to the mandolin or banjo.
Tenor guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin family
Besides mandolin and tenor banjo, Tom also teaches the tenor guitar, 5-string banjo and other members of the mandolin family, including mandola and bouzouki. A typical lesson could include any of the above but would be more specific to the instrument in question.
Tom also offers lessons in theory, composition and arrangement, and finds that this can have huge benefits when combined with learning an instrument.
Some aspects of this include:
- How to read standard notation and tab.
- Understanding chords.
- The theory behind harmonising folk melodies.
- Writing folk tunes, or more formal composition.
- How to arrange music for a band
Tom teaches a wide range of genres including folk, traditional music from Scotland, Ireland and England, American old-time music, bluegrass, country, pop, rock, jazz and classical music.
The first lesson with Tom would usually be spent establishing the goals of the student, and discussing how the lessons can be designed to ultimately achieve these goals. For complete beginners, this lesson would be a relaxed approach at getting to know the instrument and the correct way to hold it and the pick, before moving on to the basics of producing a tone. For intermediate or advanced students, the first lesson could involve the student playing some material they are working on, if they feel comfortable doing so, to give Tom an idea of their ability and what can be covered in their lessons to help them improve.
Beginners are encouraged to bring their own instrument and material if they have it, but Tom is happy to provide material on a weekly basis that is specifically tailored to suit the student. This can be written as standard notation, TAB or taught by ear.