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#1256972 - 08/27/09 01:47 AM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: AZNpiano]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA
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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
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 Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5423
Loc: Orange County, CA


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
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4750
Loc: South Florida
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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
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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"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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#1257355 - 08/27/09 04:59 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: 4750
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
Junior Member

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
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
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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Registered: 04/12/05
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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
Junior Member

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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
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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"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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#1275117 - 09/25/09 06:53 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: John v.d.Brook]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
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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"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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#1281325 - 10/05/09 03:58 PM Re: Piano Guild and the case for memorization . . . . [Re: MsAdrienne]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
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
Full Member

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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
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!
_________________________
"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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#1282088 - 10/06/09 11:42 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
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
Full Member

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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
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
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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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7315
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!
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"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
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High school student questions..
by lavienrose16
08/01/14 10:38 AM
August Piano Bar, drinks on the house
by Peyton
08/01/14 09:40 AM
I just read this at the Yamaha FAQ website
by BrianDX
08/01/14 09:21 AM
Schimmel DUO piano
by wimpiano
08/01/14 08:56 AM
Feurich 190 cm grand from 1920 - Is it any good?
by pinkfloydhomer
08/01/14 08:16 AM
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