As the RGT has expanded around the globe in recent years, one of the current hot spots for exams is the beautiful island of Cyprus.
In this interview, RGT talks to Cyprus based RGT guitar tutor and performer Filippos Filippou as he discusses his history with RGT, his background in jazz education, and where his musical pursuits will take him in the future.
RGT: How did you become aware of RGT exams, and why do you choose to enter students into RGT exams?
Filippos Filippou: I became aware of RGT exams through School of Music Kyriakides, where I am a guitar teacher and music educator. After checking various exam methods, I decided that RGT is an overall well structured modern guitar examination, so I chose to enter my students into RGT examinations.
RGT: What do you find is the hardest part of any RGT exam for a student to study, and how do you approach these tricky sections in your guitar lessons?
Filippos Filippou: Improvisation is probably the hardest part for the students as well as the specialization parts at higher grades. I simply encourage and guide my students to listen a lot of different styles of music, free themselves, and improvise.
I always ask them to see improvisation as a fairytail, that starts with once upon a time, and finishes with, they lived happily ever after.
Also, I try to make them realize, that mistakes are part of the game, and they should not be afraid to make mistakes when they play. Have their audience love even their mistakes.
I encourage them to be creative. That’s what music is for me, creation.
RGT: Do you find that your background in jazz guitar has helped you teach and work with students in other genres, such as rock and pop?
Filippos Filippou: My Jazz guitar studies and background has helped me a lot, both as a performer, and also as an educator. Jazz gave me an overall knowledge of how guitar works, and combined with my theory knowledge, gives me to opportunity to teach other genres. Even if these genres are not my strong point as a performer.
Furthermore, as a guitar educator, I need to adjust and provide the student the correct knowledge, according to his/hers personal music taste. So I always try to listen and research as many possible styles of music, in order to become an overall good music educator. But yes, Jazz has been a great source of knowledge and inspiration.
RGT: You chose to do your University studies in Canada. Do you feel it’s important for serious guitar students to go abroad and bring an international perspective to their education?
Filippos Filippou: Absolutely. Choosing Canada for my guitar studies was the best decision of my life. It really opened up my mind as a musician and also as a person. Having the chance to perform and communicate with so many musicians from around the world made me love music even more. It is important for musicians to spend some time in an international environment.
RGT: What are your plans, both in your performance and teaching, for the coming year?
Filippos Filippou: I collaborate with contemporary theatre and dance groups around Europe, and that is something that I want to continue. Also, I am working a lot on my professional development as an educator as well as a musician. I also, plan to continue my jazz studies, by entering a postgraduate institution.
I do want to expand my teaching methods, and become an established music educator. I am in the proses of writing my first guitar method based on the experience I gained as an educator, with the support of the school that I am happy to work for.
Through the years, I have been able to understand more of what the students needs are, and how is easier it can get for them to understand and enjoy playing the guitar through various techniques. Also, I am preparing a jazz project, together with other musicians.
RGT: What advice do you have for any guitar tutor that is thinking of entering students into RGT exams?
Filippos Filippou: RGT gives a lot of freedom to guitar tutors to add their own touch in the way they approach each section of the exam. It does not limit the student into only one style, since it includes various genres.
Tutors must be able to adjust into several different styles. Being a good performer in your own style is good, but being a good educator, it’s a different story.
A tutor should be able to help students become creative, and have fun. Music is fun!