Series 17 – Part 2 (some answers)

There’s really no bad news, not even a single bit: the AMEB’s Series 17 is a collection that does exceptionally well in catering for the vast range of interests, urgencies and fixations of the Australian piano teaching world. David Lockett and the review team (Glenn Riddle, Jody Heald and Helen Smith) have taken a meticulous approach to delivering a series of repertoire collections that will serve the assessment process – as well as piano pedagogy – well. Let’s start with that grade-deflation question. Have we seen a shift in the goal posts of any of the grades? Is Preliminary continuing the march to Grade One standard repertoire?! Short answer – no. All the pieces are very well graded. There are some easier and some harder pieces in each grade collection, but nothing to elicit outrage or confusion. More detail from me soon in a separate post. Appropriate length? Delightfully so! Very few works that take too many pages, and none that are garrulous

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Leaving ‘Laminating’ Behind: Step 1 – The Skill Set

I’ve said it before, we piano teachers teach the way we were taught. And we do it because deep in our musical bones and our pianistic DNA we truly believe we were taught well. But upon deciding that, while our teachers served us well, we can serve our students better, how do we turn around a lifetime of habits we now perceive to be downright dangerous? The downright dangerous teaching habits are what I’ve called The Lamination Technique, where students are asked to learn the notes first, the rhythm next, then put hands together, then articulation, then dynamics, and so on over a period of months until finally the phrases are all welded together into something called a ‘performance’. The first thing is to truly believe that there is a better way, even if you are not quite sure what it might be. Like they say, if you don’t want anything to change keep doing what you’ve always done! If

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Balanced Programs for Exams

I’ve been running around Australia saying to piano teachers not to bother trying to create balanced programs with their students pre-Grade 8, and of course teachers have been responding with “but students are required to present balanced programs”. Some exam boards, like Trinity College London and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, allow a very narrow choice of repertoire (just 6 pieces per list for ABRSM) in comparison to the AMEB, and students are completely free to choose any of these six pieces to make up a program of three works.  The assumption from the examination board is that your program will be balanced because they have grouped pieces in such a way that you will always end up with a range of styles, speeds and moods. But teachers believe that the AMEB syllabus requires them to select a ‘balanced’ program, in addition to selecting pieces from each of the three or four lists, and so students

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