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Interview with Bass Guitar Teacher Amy Baldwin

Updated: Jun 27, 2023





Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us. Amy. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm Amy. I'm a bass player. I've been around on a sort of working in the scene for about 20 years. Quite a long time. I play mainly in jazz bands, but I've also done lots of other things. I've done a few shows, and I really like Brazilian music, so I've done a bit of that. And some cabaret. Just whoever pays me to do it, really. At the moment, I'm working with my own trio. We sort of play modern, interactive jazz, which I'm really enjoying, so I can write and arrange tunes for that, which is really good fun. And what's the name of your trio? It's called Kayo. We have a website. Okay. We can leave a link to that in the content as well.


So how did you get started in music?

I started when I was a kid on violin. I played the violin for about ten years, from when I was quite little, and then got a bit fed up with that and changed course for a bit. But then, when I finished college, I went to a jazz summer school with my violin but ended up on bass. And I thought, yeah, this is great. So I pursued that for a couple of years, did some practice, did a postgrad at the Guild Hall, and the rest is history.


Was it classical that you were learning on violin initially?

Yeah, sort of traditional classical music and then straight to jazz.

Do you feel like you still use some of that knowledge today?

Oh, definitely, yeah. Especially in my teaching.

Did you learn any other instruments at all, like the piano?

I did learn a bit of piano, but not at any great level.

Why do you value music education?

Well, lots of reasons, really. I think, like, learning an instrument, first of all, is really fun, especially when you get to the stage, that you can play with other people in bands or orchestras or whatever. There's just nothing like making music with other people. Also, I think being in a situation which is one-to-one with just an adult, just you and an adult or whoever's teaching you it's a really valuable experience, especially if you spend most of your time in a classroom with like 30 other kids. It's nice to be in a situation where you feel heard, and you can try things out and have that kind of relationship with a trusted adult, as they say. Also, you learn lots of transferable skills in music about discipline, practice, rigour, and also, when you get to the stage of playing with other people, lots of interpersonal skills. Being able to get on with lots of different people is like, invaluable, I think.

What inspired you to start music teaching then, Amy?

Well, I don't know. I kind of fell into it. Someone asked me to debt to them for a workshop of adult learners, and so I ended up doing that for a bit, and I really enjoyed it. And then I kind of got into ideas of education or how people learn, and the whole thing about left brain, right brain, child-centred, teacher-centred, I'm really interested in all that kind of thing. So that led me on.


How did you get into education, and what interested you in it?


Someone asked me to dep to them for a workshop of adult learners, and so I ended up doing that for a bit, and I really enjoyed it. And then I kind of got into ideas of education or how people learn, and the whole thing about left brain, right brain, child-centred, teacher-centred, I'm really interested in all that kind of thing. So that led me on to sort of do, then I did PGCE. Yeah. Okay. Which was good and bad, but it kind of gave me as it taught me what I wanted to teach and who I wanted to teach and what situation I wanted to teach in. And then yeah, that's it, really. I really like education, the whole process of it. Yeah. It never ends. The great thing about learning music as well is that you never get there. Teaching informs your own practice.

How has technology changed your approach to music education? Have there been any new challenges or new opportunities?

Technology and music are absolutely incredible. I mean, just from basic stuff like being able to Spotify, being able to access any tune at any time, you're in a classroom, and you think, oh, why didn't we learn this tune? And it's just there. Also, programs like Transcribe, where you can slow things down, change the key, isolate like two bars, just learn that bit, then learn another bit. YouTube. Yeah. My students go away and listen to this or learn this bit. They just put it on YouTube. And there's someone doing what I've asked them to do, to use sorry, sharing resources online. Dropbox Google Drive. It's just amazing what technology has done for music education, I think.


Do you use any music software such as Sibelius or GarageBand in your teaching?

Yes, Sibelius. I run a big band and just use Sibelius all the time to write music for them. It's fantastic. Logic a lot. Just midi files. So I can make Play alongs. Yeah. It's just brilliant.

It's hard to imagine a time when people had to handwrite whole scores.

Exactly. When I do handwrite things, the kids are like; I can't read this.

As an advanced musician, what's one piece of advice that you would give to someone at the beginning of their musical journey

I would say just listen to as much music as you possibly can, all different styles. Just immerse yourself and find out what you really, really like to play. And also listen to music with a range of instruments in it, and find out what instrument you're really attracted to and you really want to kind of pursue, because you have to love it. Otherwise, all those hours, you're just not going to put the work in if you don't love it 100%.


If you would like to watch Amy perform live, you can follow her solo project here


Keep Strumming!


Simon

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