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.  It can be exciting for beginner

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What do you look for in a method (book one)?

The P Plate Piano launches began on Sunday with an event at Coffs Harbour (for those unfamiliar with Australian geography, a seaside town roughly halfway up the coast between Sydney and Brisbane) with a small number of piano teachers in attendance.  Notice had been short and, in any case, there are not a large number of piano teachers in smaller centres like Coffs Harbour (population, an estimated 66,000). Having a small group meant that we could run the launch event a little more like a conversation, or a discussion group, and I took the chance to ask the teachers attending about the choice of method book they make for their current students. P Plate Piano Book 1 starts at about the place most method’s book one finishes off, so the discussion was highly relevant to the music we were about to look at. Astonishingly, no two teachers used the same method. Maybe less surprising was the consensus that none of

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P Plate Piano Book 2: Composers

Today marks the first day P Plate Piano is available for sale in Australia, and I’ve been too sick to drag myself out of bed, let alone get into a shop to see how they might have this beautiful looking series displayed.  [If you want to see the cover design it’s currently up as the splash page for the still-under-construction website http://www.pplatepiano.com.au%5D But I think I might have enough energy (having been asleep most of the day, and having Tom at his grandparents’ place), to write up a quick piece about the composers who are included in P Plate Piano Book 2. Of course, I’ve used many of the composers whose work featured in P Plate Piano Book 1, so I won’t detail these composers, except to list them: Anita Milne (yes, my mum, who now has her pieces in 4 publications), Jane Sebba (pieces from her fabulous Piano Magic method books), Daniel Gottlob Türk (composer from the Classical period who

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