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How long before Prep Test on piano?


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#1 zizi

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 08:14

I am an established (that means old!) teacher of the piano.  I have been wondering, on average, how long to take to get to Prep Test on the piano.  I have been insisting the reading of the music should be established before attempting this assessment, but it meant, on average, 1 1/2 - 2 years for my junior pupils (6 - 9 years old)...

 

I am fully aware that you can teach these little tunes and two pieces by rote.  But by doing this, they are going to have difficulties later on with the sight reading...

 

I also inherit a large number of pupils when they come up to secondary school and they can't read the music.  Some of them have already done Grade 3 / 4 with the previous teachers...  

 

Any view to share, please?

Zizi


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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 09:39

I don't like the prep test. I think Trinity initial is a much better option although it can be failed unlike the Prep Test.Sight reading is an option in this exam, which I think they should do. I think it does usually take about 18 months to get to a standard where the exam work is not too difficult.I have the same problem as you with students not reading music and I find the only way to get them to do this is to keep asking them to work notes out. Sometimes these inherited pupils don't actually know how to work notes out and are amazed when I teach them mnemonics for working notes out. At the same time, recognizing notes quickly can take a while to achieve so most are using a combination of working out notes and memorizing. It does all usually fall into place.
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#3 Piano Meg

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 14:43

Some of mine take that long too, and to be fair, it's the slower or younger pupils who I'm likely to suggest the Prep Test to, either to help their confidence or for parents who want their children to do grade 1 when they're not ready. Mine that do the prep test will be able to read the tunes, but alongside their favourite method book piece, we might choose a rote piece which they won't be able to read - in that case, I'd still want them to be able to follow the melodic shape. Ish.

 

I'm quite strict with reading, and I think pupils enjoy learning to read music; the main issue comes with trying to rush ahead - either them wanting to rush or them being rushed by parents or teacher. I would much rather spend extra time in the beginning years getting them confident with basic reading, and then make it up when they take less time to learn later pieces (incl. exam pieces). Of course, there are some that thrive on difficulty(!), but I think most pupils benefit from going at reading from a solid and confident foundation, even if it takes some a while to get there.


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#4 Aquarelle

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 15:02

The piano prep test is actually quite difficult for young beginners.  There is too much pernickety phrasing and  too many fussy rhythms in the pieces and as has been said the temptation not to read -  and nothing really well thought out from a pedagogical point of view. I don't use it unless I have to to make the numbers up. When I do it is usually with young pupils who have been learning for one and a half to two years. It will be interesting to see if the new pre Grade 1 exam will be better thought out.


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#5 zizi

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 18:51

Thank you, I am glad that I am not the only one whose young pupils take quite a long time to get to Prep Test level.  I guess it is also due to the fact these young pupils are the ones I teach at a junior school so I would only receive 30 lessons per year.  Regarding the test itself, I actually like what they offer; I have yet to investigate Trinity Initial exam. 

 

I have read about Pre-Grade 1, but I cant remember anything about it...  is it coming soon? 

Zizi


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#6 Misterioso

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 11:18

Thank you, I am glad that I am not the only one whose young pupils take quite a long time to get to Prep Test level.  I guess it is also due to the fact these young pupils are the ones I teach at a junior school so I would only receive 30 lessons per year.  Regarding the test itself, I actually like what they offer; I have yet to investigate Trinity Initial exam. 

 

I have read about Pre-Grade 1, but I cant remember anything about it...  is it coming soon? 

Zizi

 

The Pre-Grade 1 for violin runs from the first exam session in 2020, so I am sure piano will not be long behind - or is perhaps already in the throes of being delivered?

 

I don't dislike the Prep Test per se, and it has been a positive experience for some of my younger pupils to have done it, but I don't think I will use it again when the PG1 is up and running. 

 

Pupils today are very different from pupils of 20 years ago. With all the competing activities (not to mention technology) that they have on offer, the time they have to invest in any one activity is much reduced for many of them. On average, mine take just as long as yours, and some (notably the ones who have zillions of other extra-curricular activities on the go all at once) take rather longer.


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#7 ma non troppo

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 11:51

I've never used pre grade 1 assessments - I don't see the point of the prep test - I looked at it once and was not enthused by the content. I would look at a new pass/fail pre grade 1 test but am unconvinced I would use it unless I am excited by what I see. The cynic in me thinks it is just going to be a way of selling more Piano Star books.
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#8 Aquarelle

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 17:22

. The cynic in me thinks it is just going to be a way of selling more Piano Star books.

I think you may well be right and I sincerely hope you are wrong!


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#9 Latin pianist

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 17:26

I was hoping the pre grade 1 would have a book of its own like the other grades.
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#10 Aquarelle

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 20:16

I think it will but there is nothing to stop them  reprinting Piano Star pieces in it and or adding them to the alternative lists. 


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#11 agricola

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 18:00

I don't like the Prep Test but use it occasionally for pupils who are progressing very slowly or when parents think it would be a useful experience for a child to take an 'exam'.  I find the pieces uninspiring and old-fashioned and for faster movers it just delays them getting to Grade 1.


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#12 ma non troppo

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 23:56

How many teachers here did a "prep test" themselves!?
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#13 Latin pianist

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Posted 31 October 2019 - 06:53

Don't think it existed when I was young.As someone else said, I think it is only useful for a slow learner. I have no idea why, but when I was young and when I first taught, students seemed to progress faster, particularly in reading skills, and getting to grade 1 didn't take as long as it can do today.
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