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#1233002 - 07/17/09 03:01 PM Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . .
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Long time forum members know I'm enthused about the Piano Guild Audition process, here in the USA. Newer members may not have heard my sales pitch, so here goes.

Yesterday, being the two month marker since Spring Auditions, I decided it was time to find out where students were in Repertoire maintenance. Much to my very pleasant surprise, students averaged well over 90%. That is, my International students who had memorized 15 pieces could correctly play 13 or 14 of them, from memory of course. My national students could play 9 of their 10 pieces. What a delight.

One 5th grade girl complained that her friend was more advanced (she had taken a year longer) but when I quizzed her on how many pieces she could play without music in front of her, it was a different matter. So, I asked, who's the better pianist, the one who can sit down and play music, or the one who has to find some notes to read?

Of course we know this is quite subjective, but parents seem to love the fact that their students can actually play repertoire on command, so it's worth thinking about.

Anyway, for those of you thinking about Guild for the coming year, now's the time to get your membership in and to start students learning their technical phases. As far as repertoire goes, start slowly. Jumping from one memorized recital piece a year to 4, 7, 10 or even 15 is a huge shift in practice requirements and work for you.

I'll be happy to field questions here or by PM.

Regards,

John
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
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#1233277 - 07/18/09 09:20 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Jumping from one memorized recital piece a year to 4, 7, 10 or even 15 is a huge shift in practice requirements and work for you.


John:

As you might know, Guild is not extremely popular in California, where MTAC pretty much has the entire state cornered and everybody is doing CM.

I can see the value of memorizing 10 or 15 pieces when students are younger (4th grade?) and play at the level of Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook. But anything beyond that, you'd run into two problems:

1) Kids do get busy with schoolwork! It's hard enough to get them to do the two required memorized pieces for CM. I usually require more than 2 pieces memorized, but I do see how kids are getting way busier than in the past.

2) As students start playing more advanced repertoire, I don't see how they can continue to memorize everything. Do you make your students memorize 10 Chopin Etudes? Or 10 sonata movements? I didn't even play 10 pieces for my Senior Recital in college, and it went past 90 minutes.
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#1233283 - 07/18/09 09:31 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Congratulations on your successes! You must feel really proud

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
So, I asked, who's the better pianist, the one who can sit down and play music, or the one who has to find some notes to read? John
Thems is fightin' words John!! LOL
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#1233288 - 07/18/09 09:43 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I've already got my fees in and my new membership card for the new year :-)

I also have a new guild planning sheet I'm using in their binders this year and have already started talking it up with my students. Most will have at least one or two movements of their sonatinas memorized by the end of summer, and we'll new music to write on the planning sheet!
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Independent Music Teacher
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#1233630 - 07/18/09 11:58 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
To answer your question, AZN, it really depends on the student. Yes, the young students learn and master 10 to 15 new pieces each year but as they get older, the process changes.

As they get into the Intermediate level material, they carry forward a few of the most challenging pieces from the previous years, then as they get into upper intermediate and lower advanced, they carry forward even more, while learning longer, more difficult new material.

One of my HS 10th grader has the following repertoire(I think I've listed this before): the entire Schumann Scenes of Childhood, the entire Bach French Suite #5, 1st mvt, Italian Concerto, a Schubert Impromptu, Brahms Rhapsody #2, a Chopin Nocturne, and perhaps something else I'm forgetting. Now, he didn't learn this all in one year, but rather, we've been building this over 4 years now. He has learned other pieces, such as several Mozart and Beethoven sonatas in addition. But he can sit down and give a decent recital at this point. He is in honors programs and on two of the school's sports teams as well, so he has to husband his time quite carefully.

What is nice about Guild is that a student can learn and master an above grade piece, then polish it over several years using it in auditions for several cycles. Of course, each year, it's much better, musically, than the year before.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1233650 - 07/19/09 12:54 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
John:

That is a massive repertoire to maintain. Wait until he starts AP classes. That'll put an end to his practice time.

I have mixed feelings about this memorization requirement. I'm not big on memorizing, especially since I'm terrible at it. Also, how do kids feel like playing the same piece for over a year, or four years? My last two years of high school I kept one massive piece, and it didn't get any better over time--in fact, it got so bad, I must now go back and re-learn the whole piece by myself.

That being said, there must be positives that come out of maintaining a decent repertoire at hand. Do you feel overwhelmed, though, by how many pieces you ought to play well as a teacher? That seems like a separate question, but it's realted to the number of pieces to keep up at a recital quality.
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#1233740 - 07/19/09 09:36 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
John,
What practice routine do you recommend to students to maintain this number of pieces, and learn new ones?

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#1233746 - 07/19/09 10:01 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Phlebas]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
John,
I never considered holding over a piece for the following year's audition. Do you do this only from a certain level on (like Intermediate or Prep)? Or also with younger more beginning level students?

I just received this year's Guild membership card. I am also in California, so I do CM and Guild, although not every student will do both. I start students in Guild as it's less strenuous than CM (since CM requires a theory test & sightreading, as well as technique and repertoire). After a couple of years of Guild I'll have students do CM as well.
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#1233850 - 07/19/09 03:21 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: dumdumdiddle]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Hello all,

Let me try to answer some of the many questions you've raised.

First, D3, you asked about repeating repertoire. Here's an example: A student has learned the 1st movement of Clementi Op 36, #1. It's a stretch and their audition is an Elementary E or F. The following year, they've added the 3rd mvt, and play both mvts at auditions. Student is now an Elementary F or Intermediate A. The other repertoire is a bit more challenging, like a dance or two from Anna M. Bach notebook, a couple of easier pieces from Schumann and perhaps a couple of modern pieces from Kabalevsky and Shostakovitch. They might have done the Bach G maj minuet the first year, added the g minor and the other G maj, which is quite a bit more challenging.

In other words, they've mastered 7 new pieces, carried forward 3. By the way, one or two of those pieces could be technique phases, such as scales and chord progressions.

To earn the HS diploma, the student must do a sight reading exam, so it would behoove the student to do a sight reading phase from time to time, to gain experience.

The only major negative about Guild is that they lack a theory component, and all I know is that "it's in the works."
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1233855 - 07/19/09 03:25 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Phlebas]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Phlebas
John,
What practice routine do you recommend to students to maintain this number of pieces, and learn new ones?


The secret, I believe is that you as a teacher must listen to repertoire periodically at the lesson. My experience is, what you don't listen to (and work on) won't get practiced.

My lesson assignment sheet has a place for listing repertoire and to check off when practiced. I suggest to parents that they have Sunday after dinner concerts, when their students present a mini-recital for them. Sometimes, I have to be really blunt with parents: your children will do exactly what you expect them to do.....through your actions. If you have a weekly piano playing time for family, where all other activities are stopped, and the focus is on your children, then they will rise to the occasion. If you blow off performance because you don't have the time, then I can guarantee that your children will follow your lead.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1233861 - 07/19/09 03:34 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
John:

That is a massive repertoire to maintain. Wait until he starts AP classes. That'll put an end to his practice time.


He's already ready in AP classes, but music is a family priority, and that helps immensely!

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
How do kids feel like playing the same piece for over a year, or four years? My last two years of high school I kept one massive piece, and it didn't get any better over time--in fact, it got so bad, I must now go back and re-learn the whole piece by myself.


If the longer, more advanced works are learned well, the student understands the musical structure the composer uses, memorization is far better than just finger memory. This negates the need for constant daily practice on any given piece.

I suggest to these students that on Saturdays or Sundays, they select two or three pieces from their repertoire and spend some quality, highly focused time on it, perhaps an hour or more.

For everyone, most of my teaching pieces, I can and do play from memory. Why? Because I teach with two pianos, and I am playing student repertoire constantly, both to illustrate and playing along with the student. If you're looking for a way to justify a second instrument, this is certainly a good one.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1233945 - 07/19/09 07:06 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Phlebas
John,
What practice routine do you recommend to students to maintain this number of pieces, and learn new ones?


The secret, I believe is that you as a teacher must listen to repertoire periodically at the lesson. My experience is, what you don't listen to (and work on) won't get practiced.

My lesson assignment sheet has a place for listing repertoire and to check off when practiced. I suggest to parents that they have Sunday after dinner concerts, when their students present a mini-recital for them. Sometimes, I have to be really blunt with parents: your children will do exactly what you expect them to do.....through your actions. If you have a weekly piano playing time for family, where all other activities are stopped, and the focus is on your children, then they will rise to the occasion. If you blow off performance because you don't have the time, then I can guarantee that your children will follow your lead.


John,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Does this apply to students in the 10th and 11th grade, where the pieces might be a movement from a classical sonata, or a Chopin grand waltz?

I find this idea fascinating.

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#1234062 - 07/20/09 12:32 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Phlebas]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Although some of my HS students tend to blow off performance, as you would expect from many teens, they generally find they're the ones having problems come recitals and auditions.

I basically tell my HS students that their pieces are longer and more challenging, and they simply cannot maintain an elementary school practice routine if they expect to perform at a HS level. It's their choice, I'm not going to install a practice monitor or put it on their permanent school record if they decide to sluff off serious practice.

FYI, the level of difficulty for Prep A (high school A) is on the order of Mozart K545 or Beethoven Op 49, #2. Prep B moves up to Sonata in G K283 and Op 49, #1; Prep C might be Mozart Sonata K280 or some of the early Beethoven Sonatas, Op 5, perhaps. Prep D is the next higher level. The Bach Italian Concerto would be an example.

I tend to search for challenging miniatures for students so we can sample more composers, more musical styles, and not stress out on several huge works. If the student has an adept memory, then I feel comfortable giving them a major sonata, otherwise, not.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1234066 - 07/20/09 12:38 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I tend to search for challenging miniatures for students so we can sample more composers, more musical styles, and not stress out on several huge works


That's why I love Six Preludes by Muczynski. Poem by Fibich is also quite nice (and short).
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1252285 - 08/19/09 11:33 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I am new to the forum and there have not been any posts to this topic for awhile, but I am such a fan of Guild that I just have to support John and his comments. I have been involved with Guild for 7 years now. At this point all of my students play 10 pieces or a national program. The first year or two they might have a little trouble memorizing but after that it just becomes a part of their learning process. As they get into high school some students have a little trouble getting 10 pieces put together but yes you can repeat favorites and you can always find a few shorter pieces to fill out a program. Until I was involved with Guild my students were just not motivated to learn their scales and arpeggios. Plus my students are playing more advanced music at a younger age than in the past. I know that Guild has made a hugh difference for my students.

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#1252289 - 08/19/09 11:43 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: abcdefg]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Hi abcdefg and welcome. Especially nice to have another Guild teacher on board. Not to put you on the spot, but how are you coming towards certification? It's a tough hill to climb, but certainly worth it.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1256156 - 08/25/09 09:47 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I haven't looked into certification yet. I am thrilled if I get my students through their auditions. I haven't taken time to see what I need to do to get certified.

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#1256256 - 08/26/09 02:40 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

One 5th grade girl complained that her friend was more advanced (she had taken a year longer) but when I quizzed her on how many pieces she could play without music in front of her, it was a different matter. So, I asked, who's the better pianist, the one who can sit down and play music, or the one who has to find some notes to read?

Here's a different way to look at it. Which student can play the other student's music?

Memorization is wonderful when it is not used as a replacement for reading. It should be the icing on the cake, not the cake.

I am much more impressed by students (and players) who can play a great deal of music with scores than those who play well from memory but take forever to learn new music.

Now, in a perfect world wonderful students will play very well and play MANY things well and can learn new things very quickly and also can memorize all of them if they wish.

In a perfect world…
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#1256669 - 08/26/09 04:56 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I am much more impressed by students (and players) who can play a great deal of music with scores than those who play well from memory but take forever to learn new music.


Mmm... I feel the opposite. I've seen so many people who can only play when there's music in front of them. I can't imagine sitting at a piano and not playing SOMETHING, either memorized or improvised. How sad.

I teach all of my students to memorize from the very beginning of lessons. I tell them to always have at least two pieces ready to play at a moment's notice: one to perform initially, and then another, when people will rave about the first performance and then of course will want to hear something else.
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#1256684 - 08/26/09 05:11 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle

Mmm... I feel the opposite. I've seen so many people who can only play when there's music in front of them. I can't imagine sitting at a piano and not playing SOMETHING, either memorized or improvised. How sad.

I never said that memorization is unimportant.

But so many time students transfer to me who seem to play impressively so long as they play ONLY things they have already learned and memorized.

And I don't see playing from memory and improvising as even in the same area.
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#1256691 - 08/26/09 05:14 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5548
Loc: Orange County, CA
Gary:

I am in the same boat as you. I have transfer students who take a YEAR to learn one piece. It takes forever for them to learn anything. And when they upload incorrect notes or fingering into their brains, they can't fix/undo their mistakes. It's tough teaching these "memorizers." Of course, they can't sight read anything, either.
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#1256722 - 08/26/09 05:49 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

One 5th grade girl complained that her friend was more advanced (she had taken a year longer) but when I quizzed her on how many pieces she could play without music in front of her, it was a different matter. So, I asked, who's the better pianist, the one who can sit down and play music, or the one who has to find some notes to read?

Here's a different way to look at it. Which student can play the other student's music?


Gary, I don't disagree with your statements, I was only trying to make the young lady feel better. Her friend is playing music which is about a year into the future for this girl. In fact, however, she has learned six new pieces this summer and can still play most of her Guild repertoire quite well. I believe there's some kind of symbiotic relationship here.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1256728 - 08/26/09 05:58 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
AZN,

You have just hit upon the reason why I'd rather go through through the challenge of starting students from day one rather than deal with students coming from other teachers.

If MY students don't read well, it's MY fault! wink

I have a seven-year old instantly memorizes anything. The challenge was not letting that memory take over in the first year so that worked out notes, in slo-mo, then memorized and only got things up to speed, purely by memory.

I think that's the greatest handicap a beginning player develops, and it's VERY difficult to fix later.
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#1256813 - 08/26/09 08:10 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10405
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: AZN
Wait until he starts AP classes. That'll put an end to his practice time.


Whoa there. Something has to give, for sure, but practice doesn't have to be it. We seem to be juggling AP and practice, so far. We have no competitive sports as a separate responsibility, so the only cost is socializing time and chilling time.

Originally Posted By: John v.d. Brook
The secret, I believe is that you as a teacher must listen to repertoire periodically at the lesson. My experience is, what you don't listen to (and work on) won't get practiced.


.... and that would be where nasty ol' busybody parents can come in. When repertoire that should be kept at least minimally 'up' begins to slide, I often suggest pulling it out for old times sake. I think that makes the teacher's job a little easier if and when she wants to hear these pieces again.


AZN,

I know you have probably told me before, but is CM essentially the same thing as Federation elsewhere? The 'two piece' festival sounds suspiciously familiar. Does CA sponsor a competition that builds from the festival pieces?
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#1256815 - 08/26/09 08:13 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Piano*Dad]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10405
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I did the Guild audition once, in my senior year for the HS diploma. During my junior year I switched to a teacher who did the Guild process. I'll admit that preparing a full HS diploma list in a year and a summer was a daunting task indeed. I had to memorize a ton of advanced stuff in a short time frame. I still feel good for having done it. Heck, I still remember some of the pieces I played!


Edited by Piano*Dad (08/26/09 08:14 PM)
Edit Reason: polish the grammar :)
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#1256901 - 08/26/09 11:42 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Gary, I don't disagree with your statements, I was only trying to make the young lady feel better. Her friend is playing music which is about a year into the future for this girl. In fact, however, she has learned six new pieces this summer and can still play most of her Guild repertoire quite well. I believe there's some kind of symbiotic relationship here.

I'm all for any kind of realistic praise that helps get students motivated. smile

My only point about memorization (and it is consistent) is that it should never be used to compensate for weak reading skills, and this so often happens in the very beginning, when young students wrongfully assume that the fact that remember everything and can play everything from memory, then, means that this will work in the future!
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#1256909 - 08/26/09 11:57 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
smanning Offline
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I participated in Guild the entire time I took piano lessons and always did a National Program. I earned the Paderewski award my Senior year. After doing Guild for so long it just became another part of the year. We always included recital pieces and I worked on memorizing pieces throughout the year. I always studied a Baroque, Sonata/Sonatina, Romantic and 20th century style piece for each lesson. So, it was pretty easy to put together a National program based on the pieces that I learned and perfected throughout the year. I remember the memorization portion during my Jr. and Sr. year of high school was a little tough, but understanding the form of the piece really helped verses just relying on finger memory.

Anyway, I still sightread and transpose very easily because of Guild Requirements. The eartraining phases really helped during college theory, eartraining and sightsinging.

Once my daughter starts taking piano lessons I want to find a teacher that is a member of the Guild and participates in Guild Auditions. I really think they helped to make me an excellent pianist.

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#1256915 - 08/27/09 12:06 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
C.Y. Offline
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Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 391
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
I have a seven-year old instantly memorizes anything. The challenge was not letting that memory take over in the first year so that worked out notes, in slo-mo, then memorized and only got things up to speed, purely by memory.

I think that's the greatest handicap a beginning player develops, and it's VERY difficult to fix later.


Could you elaborate more about how not to work out notes purely by memory?

I think my son can memorize a new piece easily, but I don't know if he just works out notes purely by memory.

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#1256928 - 08/27/09 12:29 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Piano*Dad]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
AZN,

I know you have probably told me before, but is CM essentially the same thing as Federation elsewhere? The 'two piece' festival sounds suspiciously familiar. Does CA sponsor a competition that builds from the festival pieces?


CM is Certificate of Merit. It's an exam system with a ton of theory thrown in. Kids play 2, 3, 4, or 5 pieces for the test, depending on the level. Most kids don't go beyond level 4 (6th or 7th grade at school) because they either lose interest in piano or the theory becomes too time-consuming. Very often (especially for kids who DON'T do their theory homework), half the lesson time is spent on teaching/re-teaching theory. I really wish kids would learn more theory at school. They need the drill-and-kill practice, especially on simple concepts like key signatures, intervals, major/minor scales, chord progressions, and dominant 7th chords.

Federation is different. Very very few teachers here do Federation. Some teachers do Guild, but the great majority of piano teachers in the state go for CM.
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#1256932 - 08/27/09 12:34 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Piano*Dad]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Originally Posted By: AZN
Wait until he starts AP classes. That'll put an end to his practice time.


Whoa there. Something has to give, for sure, but practice doesn't have to be it. We seem to be juggling AP and practice, so far. We have no competitive sports as a separate responsibility, so the only cost is socializing time and chilling time.

Okay, let me rephrase...

Wait until he takes FIVE AP classes. That'll put an end to his practice time.

I took 5 AP classes my senior year. Bad mistake. Calculus BC was the nightmare of my life. I don't know how I managed to learn a concerto on top of the five required pieces for Panel. The problem is: some of my current high-school students are heading down the same path of nonsense. It's like, if you don't take 5 AP classes, you won't get into the college of your choice.
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#1256972 - 08/27/09 01:47 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

Okay, let me rephrase...

Wait until he takes FIVE AP classes. That'll put an end to his practice time.

I took 5 AP classes my senior year. Bad mistake. Calculus BC was the nightmare of my life. I don't know how I managed to learn a concerto on top of the five required pieces for Panel. The problem is: some of my current high-school students are heading down the same path of nonsense. It's like, if you don't take 5 AP classes, you won't get into the college of your choice.

NCLB…

It's all about grades, scores. I've talked before about how I concentrated only on music and was perfectly happy with OK grades. When I said that, I got a lot of objections… smile
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#1256980 - 08/27/09 02:14 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Gary--

You can't blame NCLB for the problem I've described. NCLB is aimed at the bottom 60% of public education, so that these kids are not "left behind" those kids taking AP classes. If you work for public schools, you'll realize that the distance between NCLB kids and AP kids keeps on widening. There is almost no middle ground. In a generation, the middle class will just thin out. Freaky.
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#1256989 - 08/27/09 02:46 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Gary--

You can't blame NCLB for the problem I've described. NCLB is aimed at the bottom 60% of public education, so that these kids are not "left behind" those kids taking AP classes. If you work for public schools, you'll realize that the distance between NCLB kids and AP kids keeps on widening. There is almost no middle ground. In a generation, the middle class will just thin out. Freaky.

You are so literal. My response was a bit sarcastic. My point was not about who NCLB is aimed at—or what students AP classes are directed at—but the general idea that test scores and grades reign supreme and are inevitably used to predict who will and who will not be successful in life.

But as long as I've gone this far, I'll go farther. Every decade the students I talk to know LESS than those from a decade before. And that includes supposedly top students in AP courses.

Students spend more and more time to make higher and higher grades and test scores, and a huge emphasis is on cramming in a way that to me is simply insane.

The scores and grades become the goal, not learning. Our best music students are so caught up in this insane cycle that they have no time left to discover what they could accomplish in music. No time left.

So unless you think your 5 advanced courses and subsequent lack of time to focus on piano was a good thing, I would think you would agree with me.

But very few people in this forum ever seem to agree with me about anything, so I suppose this reply will be no different. smile
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#1257013 - 08/27/09 05:30 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
AZNpiano Online   happy
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Okay, back to Guild and memorization...

I can see how memorization can help refine playing certain pieces, even polishing them to competition level. But such preparation comes at a cost of not doing much sight reading and/or theory, and not playing a broad repertoire of pieces. I wish there's a happy medium.
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#1257278 - 08/27/09 02:51 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano


Okay, back to Guild and memorization...

I can see how memorization can help refine playing certain pieces, even polishing them to competition level. But such preparation comes at a cost of not doing much sight reading and/or theory, and not playing a broad repertoire of pieces. I wish there's a happy medium.

First, before I take blame for highjacking the thread, I never mentioned AP classes and related issues. Someone else did.

Furthermore, the amount of time students have to practice/prepare is the real point. The reason the right mix of reading (playing with music) and memorization is so important is directly BECAUSE most students do not have unlimited time to practice.

It's all about time management, getting the most for each minute of practice.

That's why I continue to argue the case for learning as much music as possible, with SOME memorization, and not making memorization "The Most Important Thing".
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#1257342 - 08/27/09 04:29 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
But as long as I've gone this far, I'll go farther. Every decade the students I talk to know LESS than those from a decade before. And that includes supposedly top students in AP courses.

Students spend more and more time to make higher and higher grades and test scores, and a huge emphasis is on cramming in a way that to me is simply insane.

The scores and grades become the goal, not learning. Our best music students are so caught up in this insane cycle that they have no time left to discover what they could accomplish in music. No time left.


Gary, I've noticed the same phenomenon, and was pondering it too.

Yesterday, I commented to a student that we really needed to work more on his reading skills. He quizzed me on that statement, wondering why he couldn't read his piano music as well as he reads books. I asked him how many music books he'd read in his life and how many English books. His face brightened and he immediately got the point.

Talking, as I do with most of my students, I find they do not read very much. My parents "forced" me to read in ES and MS, and it soon got to be habitual, so that now I read 40 or 50 books a year (non-fiction, for the most part).

With reading comes language skills, vocabulary, etc., etc. Oops my next student just pulled up. More in a bit.
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#1257355 - 08/27/09 04:59 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Yesterday, I commented to a student that we really needed to work more on his reading skills. He quizzed me on that statement, wondering why he couldn't read his piano music as well as he reads books. I asked him how many music books he'd read in his life and how many English books. His face brightened and he immediately got the point.

John, I teach a lot of very young kids. That means that I actually start off with a fairly "level playing field". That means that occasionally my students become excellent music readers but still stumble reading English, and I am NOT talking about children whose parents do not speak English. That's how bad our educational system has become. To find just how bad, read about South Florida.
Quote:

Talking, as I do with most of my students, I find they do not read very much. My parents "forced" me to read in ES and MS, and it soon got to be habitual, so that now I read 40 or 50 books a year (non-fiction, for the most part).

That's why I want my students to gain the "reading music habit". I keep making the same point: "Bring ANY music, and I will play it for you." That's a challenge to myself, but it also lends credibility to what I teach. Yesterday a student challenged me with the piano/vocal score of "Hairspray". (Don't remember if it is one or two words.)

My message is always the same thing: "YOU can learn to do what I'm doing. Playing anything (reading the music) is no more 'magic' than being able to pick up any book and read it. It's not a mystery."

Also, reading books is also an individual thing. My brother never liked to read. No one has ever MADE me read one single book, John. I simply love to read.
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#1261544 - 09/03/09 03:46 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Sandimar Offline
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Registered: 05/04/08
Posts: 10
This question is for John Brock.

Am I understanding this correctly? One movement of a sonatina counts as one piece toward the overall repertoire requirement. So if a a student learned a three part sonatina that's three pieces, not one piece for the guild requirement?

Thank you.

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#1261658 - 09/03/09 09:48 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Sandimar]
Stanny Offline
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Sandimar, I'm not John, but you understand correctly. I have my old Guild report cards to prove it!
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#1261677 - 09/03/09 10:12 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Sandimar]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted By: Sandimar
This question is for John Brock(sic).

Am I understanding this correctly? One movement of a sonatina counts as one piece toward the overall repertoire requirement. So if a a student learned a three part sonatina that's three pieces, not one piece for the guild requirement?

Thank you.



Yes, each movement counts as a piece. This is not true for themes and variations.
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#1261700 - 09/03/09 10:45 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Piano*Dad Offline
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... which is why the burden on students rises as their ability rises (I presume). As a student matures, sonatina movements give way to full sonata movements. A twelve piece repertoire that includes two full sonatas and six other works is a chunk to work on. A six piece or eight piece repertoire, half of which is a sonatina is much less daunting.
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#1262099 - 09/03/09 10:13 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Piano*Dad]
Sandimar Offline
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Registered: 05/04/08
Posts: 10
Thank you, both. I am not a teacher.

I read your description of a 15-piece requirement and wondered if the child I am writing of had a 10 or 16 piece memorized repertoire of baroque/classic/romantic.

Is this the guild you are referring to? http://pianoguild.com It says it has over 800 auditions. Since I have never seen it advertised, is it private? Do I understand correctly that the teacher has to belong in order for a student to be adjudicated on individual achievements?

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#1262115 - 09/03/09 10:51 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Sandimar]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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But there is no requirement that a student perform a whole sonata. The requirement is that they perform at least one piece from each musical era, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Contemporary.

That's 4 pieces. The remaining six can be anything, as long as the difficultly level matches the grade requirement. This is different from some programs which have a repertory pool which students must draw from.

Also, the student may substitute technical phases for repertoire. This isn't always as easy as it sounds, however. A HS student subbing scales for repertoire darn sure better know all 24 major and minors, plus minor modes, if they plan to sub.
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#1275117 - 09/25/09 06:53 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
MsAdrienne Offline
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Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Fellow Guild teachers, I need your help!

A parent of a 10-y.o. student who has done a National program for the past 3 years has told me that she and the child don't see the value in Guild and want to opt out this year. Though I ask students to review an old repertoire piece or more each week (we list them on the assignment sheets, and vary the pieces week to week), I think they are still thinking that they have to learn "all these pieces" just before the auditions.

It really should be easy for this student, who excels at piano and learns pieces very quickly, and always earns Superior Plus ratings. The parent said they aren't "excited" about Guild, and that she feels that playing 3 or 4 pieces for the auditions should be enough, and would prefer a comment sheet as opposed to the report card, etc. etc. I am disappointed. They said they would do Guild if I insisted, but this conversation seems to be a big red flag to me, since it's only September!

Also, I am the new Guild chair in Lexington, so I think I'd better have all my "ducks in a row" and be able to be enthusiastic enough to motivate my students... Right? laugh

Thank you for any advice you may have! I am feeling a bit wrung out already this year. frown
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#1281277 - 10/05/09 02:47 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: MsAdrienne]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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We had our first "For Pianists Only" group lesson this Saturday, and most of the students played four or more pieces from memory, pieces they had auditioned last May, in addition to a new piece in progress. They could have played more, but we had time constraints. However, I was particularly proud of one young lady who whipped of ten pieces without breaking a sweat.

So I guess my first question to this mom would be, "Why do you want your child to learn the piano?" "What are your expectations concerning his/her playing for friends, family, in public?" "Do you want them to be comfortable playing?"

Of course, these are somewhat loaded questions, but they are to the point that preparing to play in a public setting requires more preparation, piece by piece, than just learning the basics of each piece, then moving on. And having to memorize them requires even more. Learning will be more complete and thorough.

I guess my final question to the parents would be, "Don't you feel it will impact their self-esteem, knowing their friends are playing 10, 15 or more pieces from memory, and they are only doing 4?"
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#1281325 - 10/05/09 03:58 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: MsAdrienne]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Originally Posted By: MsAdrienne
Fellow Guild teachers, I need your help!

A parent of a 10-y.o. student who has done a National program for the past 3 years has told me that she and the child don't see the value in Guild and want to opt out this year. Though I ask students to review an old repertoire piece or more each week (we list them on the assignment sheets, and vary the pieces week to week), I think they are still thinking that they have to learn "all these pieces" just before the auditions.

It really should be easy for this student, who excels at piano and learns pieces very quickly, and always earns Superior Plus ratings. The parent said they aren't "excited" about Guild, and that she feels that playing 3 or 4 pieces for the auditions should be enough, and would prefer a comment sheet as opposed to the report card, etc. etc. I am disappointed. They said they would do Guild if I insisted, but this conversation seems to be a big red flag to me, since it's only September!

Also, I am the new Guild chair in Lexington, so I think I'd better have all my "ducks in a row" and be able to be enthusiastic enough to motivate my students... Right? laugh

Thank you for any advice you may have! I am feeling a bit wrung out already this year. frown


Could it be that the best reasons why she should continue are:

1) Now that she's had 3 years of experience and is 10 years old she knows how to prepare and present a required program and keep it memorized and polished. A huge advantage for when she wants to play "something" for "somebody".

2) Now that she's had 3 years of experience and is 10 years old, the music is becoming more difficult, longer and shows musicianship skills that she did not have in previous years.

3) Now that she's had 3 years of experience and is 10 years old, the competition between students is getting more keen, since many students may have dropped from piano study, but the remaining students are making considerable progress.

4) Now that she's had 3 years of experience and is 10 years old, she is more mature and knowledgable about what musicianship is all about, theory, techniques, composers and their characteristics, era, music history. The other students in her peer group (same teacher/level of playing)are earning merits while advancing, and she is certainly of earning merit.

5) Now that she's had 3 years of experience and is 10 years old, to drop out of it at this point because of not valuing the system, the requirements, nor having received merits.

Does this mean that she is losing her enthusiasm and productivity at a time when we know she needs to stay "in the game", but she doesn't "feel" like it.

You might ask what is the "real" problem she is experiencing?

Ask the daughter and mother to make "I" statements about it so that you can really understand their viewpoint. Part of our job as piano teachers sometimes includes the area of "overcoming objections". So first of all you have to know what the objections really are.

One thing that may be missing is putting the emphasis on the success of your other students who do the program. This young lady seems to have been participating without noticing the accomplishments of the other students who have presented some very good music in their programs. If she has not been involved in listening to them, she is missing an important part of participation. She could hear some wonderful music and respect her peer group if the focus was more on "all" students and less on "her".

The "fear of failure" holds a lot of students back.

Betty

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#1281498 - 10/05/09 11:29 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: Betty Patnude]
abcdefg Offline
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Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I encourage my students to do a 10 piece national program for at least 5 years so they can get their picture in the guild publication. I don't know if that will help with your student. Show her the journal with all of the pictures. Let her read about some of the accomplishments of the other students. After 5 years I tell them they can do less if they want. I have never talked to anyone about doing more.

I am fairly new to guild, this will be my 8th year, and my families have noticed the difference at the spring recital. I don't quite have 100% participation yet but am working toward that goal. When I start a new student now it is with the expectation that they will do a guild program.

Until about high school age it is generally really easy to put together 10 pieces. In high school the problems are time and length of pieces but remember a student can repeat a piece from a previous year.

My students do 3 musicianship phases and then choose from the following:
Baroque
Classical
Romantic
Contemporary
Christmas
Pop
Duet
Religious
Folk Song
Patriotic

As far as memorizing, the first few years seem to be the most difficult. Even though the pieces are short and simple the process is new. I have had several parents say they didn't think they were going to get through the first couple of years but it gets easier. Students begin planning ahead and picking out their favorites throughout the year.

I have also had the comment that when they go visit a relative or friend and are asked to play something the students are ready, have something memorized and enjoy entertaining family and friends. I think the confidence that they have gained through the whole process really helps.

Good luck with your student and mom.

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#1281656 - 10/06/09 09:45 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: abcdefg]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Speaking of accomplishments, one of my HS students informed me that he plans to continue doing National programs so he can make it into a better college. Apparently he's researched the subject and has learned that HS with National Piano Playing Certificates show the ability to work and master subject matter that top universities are looking for in their prospective students.

Mom might be interested in that!
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#1282088 - 10/06/09 11:42 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
abcdefg Offline
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Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
John v.d.Brook--I would like to be able to tell my high school families about this. Tell me more about what your student found out. Is this a student that wants to study music or does he want to put it on his college application? I think that what he is saying is that this is a huge accomplishment that colleges will recognize.

Thanks.

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#1282117 - 10/07/09 12:41 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: abcdefg]
MsAdrienne Offline
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Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks for your replies, John, Betty and abcdefg! smile

This is also my 8th year in Guild. I always have all but one or two in auditions, and since 2003 have had at least 20 students a year. Last year 15 of my students prepared National programs, and 11 made the cut for certification renewal (I was actually very surprised by that, lol). I make a pretty big deal out of the 5-year award, and have had 2 students earn their composer pins. I expect at least 7 pieces plus 3 MPs, but most young students just do 9 plus sight-playing.

This particular student could be well on her way if she sticks it out. I think part of it is that she watched her older sibling go through Guild from 8th through 12th grade, playing very advanced literature. This older sibling is now studying for a piano/biology double major at a small college. (!!) So, I suspect there may be a fair amount of comparison there. Mom may also be just tired of her role as practice helper... she likes to spend a small portion of her child's practice time listening and supporting... but maybe it's become a lot of work. I don't know.

The mom has said they would continue with Guild "if I want them to," but I'm hoping that by asking more questions, I can really find out what the issue is, as John and Betty have suggested.

I don't want to start second guessing myself in terms of Guild as a studio requirement, and my summer and fall have been so hectic/stressful for me in general, that I think I had a moment of doubt. frown

John, sorry to steal your thread here! I'll start a new post if anything changes with my student. smile

Wishing you all a good night!

~Adrienne
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#1282542 - 10/07/09 03:08 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: abcdefg]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: abcdefg
John v.d.Brook--I would like to be able to tell my high school families about this. Tell me more about what your student found out. Is this a student that wants to study music or does he want to put it on his college application? I think that what he is saying is that this is a huge accomplishment that colleges will recognize.

Thanks.


Yes, I think he's say this is a huge accomplishment that colleges will recognize too.

The student in question ran for and won class president as a freshman; he's a real go getter, and decided he wanted to get into the best colleges possible, so he's been studying up on the entrance requirements/desirables.

I cannot tell you where he found this information, but I wouldn't be surprised if he actually telephoned admissions offices and asked!

He is not a music major, nor will be. Just wants as much portfolio as he can get to help him in college entry.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1282585 - 10/07/09 05:25 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
One of the reasons colleges like standardized test scores is they know that the scores Jimmy B from NYC and Tammy A from Podunk, Oklahoma can be compared. Grades from their high schools just can't. A student might be doing college level work for a tough teacher and get a C, while another student can barely read or do math at a jr high level and get a B or even an A. (and yes, the reason they *don't* like standardized tests is that now parents can outright buy their kids' high scores by paying for specialized tutoring and multiple attempts)

College admissions people also know that some high schools like their reputations for "preparing kids for X and Y Impressive Colleges" and will inflate grades, accomplishments and letters of recommendation to get little Johnny and Suzie in...after which they're on their own.

What colleges REALLY want, is some proof from an unbiased source that the student has the skills, drive and knowledge to buckle down and work at something worth doing over a long period of time. Ta da... Piano Guild
_________________________
Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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#1282600 - 10/07/09 05:57 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: ProdigalPianist]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7406
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Thanks for the insight and reminder. It's been a long, long, long time since even my kids were preparing college apps!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1282619 - 10/07/09 06:42 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
There is no such thing as an unbiased source. smile
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Piano Teacher

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