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Am I the only one with few high grade pupils?

Whats changed?

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#1 Latin pianist

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 19:31

I've been teaching for 35 years and apart from when I started and when I moved to a new area so had mainly beginners, I've always had a good mix of levels in my students. But over the last 3 or 4 years I've found that I have hardly any post grade 5 pupils and I have a lot of grade 1 and below. I teach in a prep school where you wouldn't expect really high grades but whereas when I first taught there, y8 students had reached grade 4 or 5, I'm lucky if they've reached grade 2. At the comprehensive I get lots start in y8 then give up at y10 because of schoolwork. And at home my higher grade pupils have started just wanting to play Einaudi or La la land! I have got a few higher grade ones, but no one above grade 6. I don't think my teaching's changed but I find I'm having to work hard at keeping people playing. Is it just me?
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#2 Banjogirl

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 19:54

Our old piano teacher is exactly the same. Lots of pupils, but few higher grades either because they never get there or they start too late to get there. She's not had a grade eight since my second son twelve years ago.
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#3 ma non troppo

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 20:00

I am currently having a huge spate of grade 8s, but most of them are adults. Yes, things have changed. I teach far more adults than I used to.
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#4 Latin pianist

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 20:13

I just wonder if there will be many proficient amateur pianists around soon. I had 3 students in succession accompany a local choir but after the last one went to uni, I had noone anywhere near good enough to do this. I accompanied some singing students in a charity concert and there were pianists performing quite intricate sounding pop style pieces from memory but none were capable of accompaniments.I did some accompanying when I was about 15.
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#5 jpiano

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 20:13

It's been exactly the same for me for the last few years. I do think that for the current(over-homeworked/activities/after school 'optional' revision sessions/competing hobbies and technology) generation, grade 6 is now the new grade 8. It used to be the case that if a pupil started with me around age 6-8, reaching grade 8 by 6th form was a realistic option, but this hasn't been so in my experience for a number of years.


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#6 ma non troppo

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 20:16

But let's be positive - there is a huge increase in adult learners. I am not alone in feeling this. A course I was on recently, everyone agreed. There are also so many better resources available. I think the internet/ YouTube etc has made more people want to learn. There is only so far they get watching instructional videos before they want a real flesh and blood teacher.
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#7 jpiano

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 22:16

Overall for me, the different pupil ages and levels have been pretty constant over the years. I've always taught a lot of adults so I haven't personally really experienced a change there myself but I do agree with ma non troppo's comments.  Having said that I have far far fewer advanced grade pupils than ever before, I think there may have been a small increase in pupils taking up piano in the early teen/age 11 or 12 or so, and it's great that they are really keen students who are really engaging with tackling something new.


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#8 Misterioso

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 11:00

It's been exactly the same for me for the last few years. I do think that for the current(over-homeworked/activities/after school 'optional' revision sessions/competing hobbies and technology) generation, grade 6 is now the new grade 8. 

 

That would fit with the more recent version of the term "intermediate". When learning as a child, Grade 6 was classed as Intermediate (as on the front of every AB exam syllabus), but now intermediate seems to be more concordant with Grade 4. However, I don't think it's only the list of competing activities in jpiano's post, but also the more indulgent, supposedly child-centred attitude to kids these days, which doesn't teach them to stick at things. 

 

Edit: I don't currently have any high grade pupils. My most advanced violinist (working towards G5) has just given up after 9 years with me due to pressure of school et al.


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#9 zwhe

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 19:35

I don't have many high grade pupils. I do have a weird cluster of grade 2s though - almost a third of my pupils at the moment! They all started at different times, so it is just coincidence, and won't continue as some are learning much quicker than others.


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#10 Clari Nicki1

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 21:48

I don't have many high grade pupils. I do have a weird cluster of grade 2s though - almost a third of my pupils at the moment! They all started at different times, so it is just coincidence, and won't continue as some are learning much quicker than others.

I have had a cluster of Grade 8's and ARSM's. They have come through the system from about Grade 5 as a cluster and have progressed at a similar rate. Having a cluster of the highest grades has been a little stressful- I have my 5th Grade 8 exam this year in a couple of weeks- and have several more lined up for next year. When they finish, I think I will have a lot less teaching as I don't have many beginners coming through at the moment! 


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#11 elemimele

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:51

someone touched on accompaniment... I wonder if abrsm could find a way to incorporate this into the exam process? It is a skill deserving of recognition. The world needs decent accompanists. After all, everyone who plays a single-line instrument needs an accompanist for their own exam! And it's fun playing in twos and threes. It'd be lovely to see more opportunities.


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#12 HelenVJ

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 09:41

Trinity ( of course!) already offer this at Grades 5-8, and it's an interesting syllabus. Meanwhile, any young pianist of the relevant standard can have a go at accompanying their friends or siblings without having to take an exam, and this would probably be a lot more enjoyable. Realistically, the chances of the AB setting up another new syllabus would be next to zero. I think exams already take too central a place in the development of young musicians, and not everything needs to have an exam attached to make it a valid experience.


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#13 elemimele

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 12:49

very true! I forgot about Trinity. But you're right, it's just nice if there is sufficient interest without any exam driving force. Wandering off-topic, do many teachers actively teach accompaniment, or is it just one of those things that's expected to happen?


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#14 ma non troppo

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 20:40

I teach accompaniment.
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#15 Latin pianist

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Posted 26 June 2019 - 15:38

I think duet playing is the first step to accompaniment. Especially if you can get 2 students to p!ay one and teach them how to watch each other's parts and learn to rit together etc.
I have had several pupils go on to accompany choirs and I didn't especially teach them to do that. One who wasn't as confident brought the choir pieces along and I sang along. One of my young pupils used Piano time Carols to accompany her church in Silent Night. Her mum sent me a lovely video of this. She's now learning chorus type hymns and we work on how to do an introduction and how long between verses. She's barely grade 2 but it's something she wants to do.
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