Some of the things that have been on my mind

In contrast to my normal 1000 word blog entries, today’s is one of my “quick – make a list of all things I want to blog about” pieces. Last week (for the first time) I joined in a twitter conversation held every Tuesday at 11am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time called #musedchat. It’s an hour of thought-exchange between music educators, most of whom are working in classroom contexts, most of those it seems working with high school aged students. Last week’s topic looked at ways of assessing musical understanding, and I loved each of the 60 minutes spent involved in that conversation. Most music assessment looks at a student’s ability to do something, usually performing a technical feat, or recognising a musical occurrence, being able to label something appropriately, and so forth – many things which are not necessarily measuring a student’s understanding. Which raises the question, how much music education is directed to increasing or deepening understanding? I spent

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Judge Not: the question of assessment (beginners)

The really big question when talking about assessing piano/instrumental students is: are external assessments of piano students a motivational tool, encouraging serious effort which certainly would not be made if an external assessment (and the possibility of failure) were not looming OR are piano exams something that strips time from the lesson that could have been spent developing a wider knowledge of the repertoire, a more varied technical expertise and a broader set of musicianship skills? A firmly believed, but often not-expressed, view amongst piano teachers is that the use of graded assessments often ends up being a way for students (and their parents) to compare themselves with their peers, and this competitive perspective can undermine the motivational benefits that an assessment deadline can deliver. I’ve recently been spending a great deal of time considering the benefits of assessments for beginner pianists, many of whom may be as young as five years of age. ┬áIt can be exciting for beginner

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