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ESTA MA Music – Woodwind

About the course

The instrumental teaching profession demands constant reflection and improvement from its practitioners. This course will help you to validate your personal development and formalise your academic qualification to teach.

Our programme of study is designed to enable you as an instrumental or vocal teacher to progress from the stage you are in your career and to take a fresh look at the way you approach your teaching.

Your studies will be online, engaging with tasks including webinars, meetings with your mentor, taking part in discussion groups, reading, making videos. You will reflect on and develop your teaching focusing on the context in which you work. This will help you to question things you may have taken for granted, explore work with and without notation and develop a holistic approach to your teaching.

You will be assigned a mentor who shares your specialism (e.g. brass, bowed strings, piano, voice, woodwind, percussion, plucked strings) and your mentor’s job is to guide you through the course, lead study sessions and feedback on your work and progress.

Being a student on this course is all about developing as a reflective practitioner, someone who is willing to stand back and look at their work and contemplate changing aspects if both you and your students will benefit. Your course leader will provide an overview of the whole course, lead study sessions, and also make assessments of all students’ work to ensure fairness.

To gain the maximum benefit for your investment in this programme of study you should plan your diary carefully to make sure you have all the deadlines for completion and submission of work highlighted – and then please take notice of them.

This programme is delivered by ESTA and validated by the University of Chichester.

Who is it for ?

Moving on from the ESTA PG Cert in Teaching, the ESTA MA (Woodwind) Practical Teaching provides students with the opportunity to reflect more deeply and demonstrate the application of learned theory in their own personal teaching setting.

The instrumental teaching profession demands constant reflection and improvement from its practitioners. This course will help you to validate your personal development and formalise your academic qualification to teach.

Participants will:

  • Develop practical skills in teaching musical and technical material, fostering an engaging and student-appropriate approach to music learning and performance

  • Foster an investigative and inquisitive approach to teaching by developing skills in both research and reflection

  • Actively develop communication skills to enable effective teaching

  • Develop skills in curriculum planning that are highly relevant in the profession.


Who teaches the course


Heads of Department – Woodwind


Winner of The August Manns Prize

Paul has established an international reputation as a musician and educationalist. As a pupil of John Davies at the Royal Academy of Music (where he now teaches), he won the August Manns Prize for outstanding performance in clarinet playing.

He regularly presents workshops, seminars, recitals and masterclasses in the UK, the USA, Denmark, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. Among his performances include the Mozart, Finzi, Spohr, and Weber concertos; many recitals and performances of various chambers works including most of the clarinet quintets, the Kegellstadt innumerable times with violist Robert Secret, the two Krommer Double Concertos with Jean Cockburn, and he regularly plays in a woodwind, two clarinets and piano ensemble.

He has given first performances of various Malcolm Arnold works including the re-discovered Wind Quintet Op.2 and he has contributed to a CD recording of works by lesser-known British composers. The clarinet prodigy Julian Bliss was a pupil. He has been a judge for the BBC Young Musician of the Year and the Classic FM’s teacher of the year and he works regularly with NYWO and NCCO as their woodwind tutor.

He is presently writing a new book on clarinet playing. His books on education (which include two clarinet tutors, a variety of works from short solo pieces to concertos and a ballet, and other books that deal primarily with stimulating and helping young players to develop their musical skills) have won awards.

Paul’s innovative teaching methods and (over six hundred) books have found support all over the world and combine thoroughness, imagination and practicality, the defining qualities of his outstandingly successful work.


Course content by unit

Unit 1: Teaching woodwind instrument technique to children and young people learning woodwind instruments

  1. Posture and supporting the instrument

  2. Warm-ups: without and with the instrument; mental and physical

  3. Understanding the instrument – understanding sound

  4. Making the sound: the journey of a breath

  5. Refining and developing tone quality

  6. Controlling intonation

  7. Articulation: techniques and styles

  8. Finger-work and dexterity

  9. Advanced techniques – harmonics, bending notes, glissando, flutter tonguing, multi-phonics, micro tones

Unit 2: How children and young people learn to play woodwind instruments

  1. How learners learn

  2. Simultaneous Learning

  3. Learning spiral

  4. My learners now

  5. Understanding, assimilating and consolidating skills, knowledge and understanding

  6. Learning music musically

  7. Developing aural awareness/perception and acuity

  8. Pupil/teacher relationships

  9. Learning scales and studies

  10. Starting a lesson

Unit 3: Teaching strategies for woodwind teachers working with children and young people

  1. Understanding my teaching now

  2. Preparation for teaching

  3. Expectation of teaching outcomes

  4. Diagnosis of learners’ needs

  5. Audio-Visual-Kinaesthetic learning

  6. Aptitude for learning

  7. Motivation for learning

  8. Simultaneous learning

  9. Assessment

  10. Exams/Festivals/Competitions

  11. Tutors/methods

  12. Teaching whole classes/small groups/individuals

  13. Proactive and reactive teaching

Unit 4: Developing a woodwind teaching curriculum for children and young people

  1. Understanding what is meant by a curriculum and a syllabus

  2. Preparing and implementing schemes of work

  3. Short/medium and long term planning

  4. Personalising learning

  5. Becoming a reflective practitioner

  6. Communicating as a musician

  7. Playing and performing

  8. Chamber music

  9. Special Needs

  10. Schools of string playing

Unit 5: Teaching Individuals

This module covers a solid base of teaching and learning theory and introduces students to core concepts in psychology having to do with learners as individuals, self-belief, motivation, and thinking processes. The structure of a private music lesson and methods for engaging learners as creative individuals are presented. Students explore various traditional and innovative music teaching methods and consider how these can be adapted for a range of learners.

This module challenges students to focus on the differences present in individual pupils. Students consider their choice of repertoire and how that relates to their critical approach to teaching each individual student.

Topics to be covered include:

  1. Skills in written communication when articulating and planning teaching content

  2. Collecting and organising musical materials to support targeted strategies for teaching different learners

  3. Comparative analysis of learners’ progress over time

  4. Scholarly presentation and referencing

  5. Experience with private teaching in a variety of settings

Key Skills

  • Autonomous learning required for managing complex tasks

  • Psychological, imaginative, and intuitive understanding

  • Development and sustaining arguments to solve problems

  • Use research and extend current teaching methods to broaden understanding

Unit 6: Creative Repertoire

Throughout the semester, students explore various core pieces of technical and performance repertoire for their instrument. The focus is on the learning concepts in these pieces and how to address these concepts by engaging students and incorporating elements of creativity and fun.

Students are assigned pieces of music to examine and identify other pieces as models from within their traditional teaching and performance repertoire. They then create new purpose-designed repertoire for teaching using various structures and styles.

This newly created material can include adapted versions of existing material, use theme and variations, include duet or multi-player parts and /or be interactive repertoire. Students will explore creating repertoire in diverse styles (other than the original) such as using pop, jazz, blues, and classical models.

Key Skills

  • Autonomous learning required for managing complex tasks

  • Creative problem solving

  • Use of research tools in extending knowledge and understanding

  • Skills in music arrangement / composition to address musical and technical learning

  • Awareness of the needs of individual learners (their pupils)

  • Strategies for teaching technical / musical content

Unit 7: Dissertation – Teacher and Student learning process (double module)

This module focuses on a holistic understanding of the learning experience, from both the teacher and the student point of view. The student view is authentic as learners on the MA become first-hand students as they undertake new learning experiences. The fresh look at learning and teaching prepares students to write a considered dissertation that reflects a current knowledge and understanding of aspects of practical teaching in the field.

Semester 1 focuses on the student perspective/experience with the students each receive weekly lessons (as if they were a beginner/student) with course mentors/professor which are video recorded.

Semester 2 delves into planning, reacting to, and working with different students. In this semester students will observe the recorded lessons, including observing each other being taught as well as lessons with different students (children and adults). The focus is shifted from the student experience to shadowing course mentors/staff in order to observe their teaching methods.

The first semester allows the students to get used to the teacher and make progress on particular repertoire and techniques. This also gives the student time to reflect on their learning processes before turning to focus from the teacher’s perspective on planning and methods.

It is understood that when joining the course, students agree to be observed by their peers. Written consent is obtained for videos to become part of future course materials.


Course structure