In this chapter, we aim to answer the following common question:
Is it possible to achieve Distinction just by turning up lessons instead of practising?
During my teaching experience, I worked with lots of case scenarios when parents complaining about not getting Distinction despite the fact their children came to every lesson during term time.
It is fundamental to practise at home and get used to play every single items perfectly in the comfort of your room if you want to achieve a Distinction. From Grade 6 to 8, it is crucial to spend almost more time than scales and pieces on Sight reading and Aural Test. Practising only during the lessons is a risky habit that might end up with a failure from Grade 6-8, a very low Pass on Grade 4-5 and a low Merit on Grade 1-3 if you are VERY lucky.
We all know, that it is impossible to cultivate all our favourite hobbies in life and if you are aiming for quality more than quantity you might need to choose to cut down in clubs or extra-curricular activities for your child. It might sound rhetorical but piano takes time if you want to achieve the best result. I recommend to spend 45 min daily on Grade 1-3; 60 min daily on Grade 4-5 and 90 min up to 2 hours from Grade 6-8. You can still continue your piano hobbies for fun without doing any exam and just turning up for the lessons but the progress will be very slow.
If you are familiar with the website, you must have read my articles about focusing on sight-reading. Sometimes, teachers and students underestimate the importance of this task and tend to spend all the time by working only on pieces and scales. It is very important from the very early stage to get to know notation very well and practise the coordination between the hands. As I might mentioned before, the “improve your sight reading” series by Paul Harris and “A piece a week” by the same author are a very valid material to work on this task. There will be a bit of frustration at the beginning but determination and hard work will pay off at the end. I take this opportunity to highlight the fact the teachers don`t make miracles on that task but it is a mutual collaboration between students, parents and teachers.
As for the Aural test, it is a good habit to listen to different kind of music on the web and try clapping the beat, sing along or try to guess the time and period. It is a very good habit to get from the very early stages.
It might sound harsh but if your child is busy with school exams, hockey, netball, ballet, swimming competitions, parties and long holidays over the half terms and on top of that, you would like to cram an exam with Distinction it is best to choose another calmer time because teachers don`t make miracles during the lessons.
Written by Sabrina Curpanen, piano teacher at WKMT