Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician
SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
Ad (Piano Sing)
How to Make Your Piano Sing
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
132 registered (aceydawg, accordeur, AndyJoe, Anne'sson, acollins, ando, 39 invisible), 1605 Guests and 21 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Page 2 of 2 < 1 2
Topic Options
#1987962 - 11/17/12 08:47 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: rlinkt]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Tim:

What your article should blame is the teacher, not the test! There's absolutely nothing wrong with testing, or the test itself. The problem is the teacher who teaches solely to the test! And parents/students who take comfort in knowing that "passing" level 2 means the student has the "ability" of level 2.

If the teacher can't find more pieces to teach than the 3 required pieces per year, then the teacher is ill-equipped to teach and should not be teaching at all.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
(ad) Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#1987996 - 11/17/12 11:32 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: timtopham]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
Interesting points, and discussion on your blog. I am completely in agreement with you that setting the target as passing an exam is missing the whole point. And that's not just for music.

In many ways, your arguments hold for many areas, such as academics. There are people who study to ace the exam, and people who study to develop a deep understanding of the subject.


Edited by rlinkt (11/17/12 11:33 PM)

Top
#1988056 - 11/18/12 08:11 AM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: timtopham]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2649
Originally Posted By: timtopham
Hi everyone,

I blogged about the whole issue of exams recently and have been receiving some very interesting comments. You might like to read about it here: "Why working to exams is anti-piano".


Thank you for sharing this thoughtful essay.

Top
#1988547 - 11/19/12 01:34 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: rlinkt]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Originally Posted By: rlinkt
There are people who study to ace the exam, and people who study to develop a deep understanding of the subject.


And there are people who develop a deep understanding of the subject and therefore pass exams quite effortlessly.

Top
#1997143 - 12/09/12 11:01 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: rlinkt]
Rennick Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/17/12
Posts: 7
I took piano lessons for 14 years (from age 3 through age 17). My piano teacher was amazing, and taught a popular method vs. the typical RCM (Royal Conservatory in Canada). This was great. I learned many skills, including theory, playing by ear, and playing chord charts (or comping as some call it).

Fast forward to later life. I'd love to begin teaching piano lessons. I've taught music lessons in another city (keyboard, guitar, drums) in a less formal setting (think "School of Rock"), and I feel I would be an excellent teacher. Unfortunately, because I never took exams, and didn't do a music degree, this option isn't as open to me as an independant teacher.

The first question everyone asks is "What grade RCM did you take?" One area piano teacher actually said that all those lessons were "wasted". Of course, I disagree, but I do wish I had an external validation of the level of piano performance that I had achieved. I wouldn't recommend to "younger me" to do an exam every year, but select milestones (grades 3, 6, 8) would have been a great addition.

Top
#1997168 - 12/10/12 12:13 AM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: rlinkt]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Speaking as a college teacher in California, I can say that we DO look at whether or not a student has participated in CM and, if so, to what level. It gives us a bit of a ready profile of what theory and technique have been covered and that they have had exposure to a historical swath of literature.

I have, in the last 15 years, occasionally come across a student who has spent the entire year learning only the CM pieces, but that is a rare case. As a CM evaluator, I find most of the students to be pretty well-rounded.

How effective exams are has everything to do with the attitudes of the teacher, the parent and the student. They have to be a team if anything in piano study is to be worthwhile.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

Top
#2001890 - 12/19/12 08:39 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: Beth_Frances]
timtopham Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 110
Loc: Brunswick, VIC
Originally Posted By: Beth_Frances
My piano teacher from 3-18 was *strongly* against exams, from the point of view that you end up spending a lot of time polishing 3-5 pieces, when you could have worked on 20-50 pieces in the same time, not polishing, but working on sightreading (which isn't going to progress significantly working on 3-5 pieces for 6-12 months) and getting a feel for different styles and composers.

Unfortunately though, some students wouldn't progress at all if they didn't have exams to work towards. That deadline is the only thing that can get them to the piano away from lessons. Kids (and parents!) also like to compete against one another, and be able to say what grade they have accomplished.

Personally I believe in a 50/50 approach. Playing lots of pieces that can be learnt in 1-3 weeks as well as some harder ones, but also working towards an exam for about 3 months once per year, to give a marker of where we're at and something to work towards.

It's also largely a matter of temperament. If your child is competitive or loves to perform they may get a lot of fulfillment from doing exams. If they love playing piano without needing external motivation than they might be better off without them.


I'm with Beth - totally agree that it's really about the student and what will be best for him/her.
_________________________
Tim Topham
www.timtopham.com
Piano teacher, accompanist, presenter
Melbourne Australia

Top
#2001911 - 12/19/12 10:30 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: AZNpiano]
adultpianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
I have just posted on another thread about this. I still sometimes struggle with Grade 3 piece even though I have taken and got my exam. The way I have been working so far with my teacher is this.........

Tell teacher i want to do exams

Teacher agrees and we get books
Work on pieces,scale etc

Sit the exam

When we wait for results we work on one or two pieces at that level

When the results come through we look at them and I usually pass

We then immediately get the books reuired for the next Grade and start working on the next Grade as soon as possible.

At no time does the teacher ask me if I feel I am completely confident playing Grade 3 pieces and suggesting that unless and until I am, we will not move forward to Grade 4. Why is teacher heck bent on moving forwards like this? What is the teacher gaining out of moving a student forward so fast? Is it for self gratification so that the teacher can say all my students pass their exams so the teacher gets a pat on the back? My music school has been noted as 100% pass rate for exams so any parent knowing that would send their child to the school for lessons, because after all, no student fails an exam. I have not failed an exam, but I can tell you that I do not feel confident picking up any piece of Grade 3 material and sitting down and playing it and doing it fluently in a couple of days. That is where REAL learning comes..NOT from having a suitcase full of exam certificates where all you have done is cram like blazes for the exam so you pass and anyone who has had no musical training or doesn't know the first thing about learning music will be amazed and think you are a wonderful pianist.

On another note...when I got the examiners sheet from my exam, he noted down that one of my exam pieces sounded rather dry because I had not used the pedal. The piece did not require a pedal, there was no pedalling in the score so it was not used. I queried this with the head of my music school and said we should complain but he said it is not worth it. Is he correct or should I complain myself. The other thing I queried is that when I did my aural and had to sing echo the examiner said I sang three wrong notes and I know I did not. My teacher told me I can sing on the right note so the head of my school said perhaps the acoustics were not right in the exam venue so that it sounded wrong when in fact it was right. Again, he did not want to take this up with anyone as a complaint. Why should I be given lower markings for not using pedal when no pedal was required and for not singing the echo right when I know full well it WAS. I wanted my school to go back for clarification as to why the examiner made these comments, but they are not prepared to do so. Surely as I took the exam and feel I have been unfairly marked in those areas, is it not my right to get reasons why the examiner said what he said? Nobody should just accept what someone says if they feel it is unfair.


I think that perhaps it is seriously time to find another music school and teachers.


Edited by adultpianist (12/19/12 10:47 PM)

Top
#2001947 - 12/20/12 12:48 AM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: rlinkt]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 492
My daughter has tests (not music) with a panel of judges. Each judge writes comments and gives a score for each thing she does. We would never argue with a judge. They are professionals and have nothing to gain or lose by the scores they issue. Sometimes a judge gives a high score and another gives a low score for the exact same task. They are trained and have 30+ years experience but they still have things that they are aware of individually. So we say thank you respectfully and move on. If we don't like a score or in a competition didn't like the outcome, we never bad mouth the judges. For whatever reason they wanted something different.

Top
#2001963 - 12/20/12 02:25 AM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: adultpianist]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
This goes with the other thread you're referring to.
Originally Posted By: adultpianist
I have just posted on another thread about this. I still sometimes struggle with Grade 3 piece even though I have taken and got my exam. The way I have been working so far with my teacher is this.........

Tell teacher i want to do exams

Teacher agrees and we get books
Work on pieces,scale etc

Sit the exam

Now in regards to your questions in the other thread - the first thing here is that you have told your teacher the goal of doing exams. As a main goal this is aiming for something that is secondary and somewhat beside the point. The main point of music lessons is learning to play music on an instrument. Exams are a means of assessing whether the learning is on track, seeing what needs to be strengthened etc. When the assessment becomes the main goal, and the learning tasks are geared toward the assessment then it's all upside down.

A good idea is to figure what you want to learn. Is it to play the instrument well? To be able to dash off your favorite tunes in a general manner? To be able to improvise, or play jazz? These are real goals. Then you tell a prospective teacher these goals, and ask that teacher to do whatever s/he thinks best to help you reach those goals, and cooperate. Since teaching goes toward goals, the results will reflect the goals.

It appears now that your teacher did exactly what you asked for: prepare for exams. The logical order for exam-oriented lessons is that once you pass the exams for one grade, you go on to the next grade. That's what's happening.
Quote:
I have not failed an exam, but I can tell you that I do not feel confident picking up any piece of Grade 3 material and sitting down and playing it and doing it fluently in a couple of days.

You have some wrong ideas here. But
Quote:
That is where REAL learning comes..NOT from having a suitcase full of exam certificates where all you have done is cram like blazes for the exam so you pass

Correct. You set the wrong goal.

Quote:

On another note...when I got the examiners sheet from my exam, he noted down that one of my exam pieces sounded rather dry because I had not used the pedal. The piece did not require a pedal, there was no pedaling in the score so it was not used.

There are a couple of things to consider here. Some of the things you can be learning in piano lessons are elements of musicianship - how to think and act like a musician. That goes beyond what you do to pass exams, and personally I find this much more interesting as a student. Playing music goes beyond following the instructions written in the score. The musician will use knowledge about music and about the instrument and his ear to make decisions which will make the music sound good. A teacher who passes these things on gives a treasure. A judge who passes these things on is also giving a treasure which you can use.

If you aim to get high grades in an exam then you are aiming for an unimportant thing. If you look at these exams differently, as a learning opportunity then it is a rich thing. For example, with this pedal, if your teacher is up to it, then this could turn into an exploration and a discussion. "How can this music be made to sound better? If I had the skills, what might I do with it? Is it in fact dry? What makes music "dry"? What kinds of things make a piece come alive?" There are many things you could do with a comment like that.

Top
#2001967 - 12/20/12 02:43 AM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: keystring]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5558
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: keystring
If you aim to get high grades in an exam then you are aiming for an unimportant thing. If you look at these exams differently, as a learning opportunity then it is a rich thing.

Nicely put! I say the same thing to many parents who sought me out to teach their kids, but my words often fall on deaf ears.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

Top
#2001995 - 12/20/12 05:31 AM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: rlinkt]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I don't believe that exams are anti-piano.

In the uk there is an obsession with exams and testing and most students will follow the ABRSM syllabus. Of course there are those who study piano simply to acquire certificates and learning to play is secondary. This attitude is anti-piano and unfortunately is often driven by pushy parents who want their kids to achieve higher grades than their class mates.

It isn't the test that's at fault though. For many these exams provide motivation and recognition of success. I think the syllabus is pretty well balanced on the whole and ensures that students play a varied repertoire as well as working on technique, sight reading and aural skills. You don't have to play nothing but three exam pieces for a whole year. That's down to th teacher and student. There are nine pieces in each book as well as another nine alternatives. Then there is plenty more repertoire out there to play as well. So it's perfectly possible to learn lots of pieces in a short space of time, then take the exam using just three set pieces.

Those students who get stuck on three pieces for a whole year simply don't want to learn piano. If you give them forty other pieces they will still do the square root of bugger all!
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

Top
#2002273 - 12/20/12 05:00 PM Re: Question for the teachers: grade exams [Re: Chris H.]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I don't believe that exams are anti-piano.


Agreed.

The exams themselves are not at fault; it's just that the desire for the exams' marks are often overshadowing the desire to learn more music these days.

There are different types of motivation, and when you use the exam as an endpoint, or reward, then the child will be motivated for the reward itself, and not the music.

Generally, once a piece is played for an exam (i.e. prepped excessively months before), it's 'dead' and the student won't want to touch it for months afterwards. That's extrinsic motivation, and that's not what we want.

There are ways to prevent this, though.

I recently wrote a post about this that you might like to read: How to Be 10% More Motivated in One Step

Top
Page 2 of 2 < 1 2

Moderator:  Ken Knapp 
What's Hot!!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving!
(ad) Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
(ad) Piano Music Sale - Dover Publications
Piano Music Sale
Sheet Music Plus (125)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Happy Thanksgiving
by JoelW
11/27/14 01:12 PM
HAS ANYONE EVER PLAYED THIS?
by LuisFelix
11/27/14 12:29 PM
Piano evening at my teachers house
by Peter071
11/27/14 10:04 AM
Freelance collaborative pianist - money issues
by MiguelSousa
11/27/14 10:02 AM
Help for this student.... Notes!
by IPlayPiano
11/27/14 09:44 AM
Forum Stats
77067 Members
42 Forums
159398 Topics
2341515 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Gift Ideas for Music Lovers!
Find the Perfect Gift for the Music Lovers on your List!
Visit our online store today.

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission