AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH TO
What Are Repertoire Awards?
Repertoire Awards are multi-levelled, award-based projects for piano students. The awards are created to encourage an increased exploration of repertoire by:
1)... focussing on a student's 'quick study' level of playing, and 2)... gaining the benefits of continually working with fresh, manageable music.
Ideal for beginner / intermediate standard students, the awards can be worked towards alongside their more challenging pieces. They could also be useful for those at a more advanced level.
What Do They Demonstrate?
The awards will demonstrate broader and more robust evidence of a student's current playing abilities than standard exam models.
By continually learning pieces that can be completed in 1 to 2 weeks, a student's overall playing experience is widened, their productivity, reading fluency, musicality and motivation is enhanced, and they are able to work more effectively between lessons.
How Are The Awards Assessed?
In order to be assessed, students make a video of each 'quick study' piece as they complete it. The videos create a portfolio of individually recorded pieces which will be assessed for the award. The portfolio is stored privately online, but can be shared upon request if they would like to send it to a family members / friends etc.
If the required standard is reached, students receive a Repertoire Award Certificate with a mark reflecting their submissions.
More Details Below
Disclaimer: The Piano Vault brand & 'Repertoire Awards' are not specifically affiliated with any exam board, publisher, or composer/arranger/editor.
How Repertoire Awards Will Benefit a
The Practice Of
Repertoire Awards exclusively focus on the frequent and continuous exposure to 'quick study' pieces, which is an often neglected aspect of piano education.
Although it is important for students to attempt repertoire that stretches their abilities, there should also be a balance between these challenges and the benefits provided by a higher ratio of 'quick study' pieces. This is especially important for beginner and intermediate students, so Repertoire Awards are primarily aimed at piano students in this category. Those at a more advanced level of playing may also find working toward these awards useful.
Quick study pieces in this context are those that take around 1 to 2 weeks to learn - 3 weeks at the very most. Students benefit from this by experiencing a broad, continuous range of technical and musical content that is easily within their natural playing level. They are motivated by the momentum of completing pieces with relative ease, as well as having enough brain space left to dig deeper into the expressive qualities of the music.
The teaching advantages are also more varied, as each piece will provide opportunities to incorporate elements of sight reading, technical exercises, music theory, and music history. This makes each piece a potential doorway to explore the wider world of piano music, rather than getting bogged down in the same overly challenging pieces for too long.
An Accurate Indication
Of Musical Growth
Today, a huge number of piano students continually work toward exams that consist of prepared pieces, technical exercises, sight reading, and aural aspects of musicianship. However, these exams do not assess how long it has taken a student to actually prepare their pieces.
The Illusion Of Progress
Due to 'chasing the grade', students often spend far too long preparing a very narrow range of pieces that are overly challenging. These groomed performances can of course sound very impressive, but are often produced at the expense of gaining valuable musical experience through a wider range of more manageable repertoire. These performances do indeed create 'an illusion of progress'.
Removing The Illusion
Repertoire Awards naturally encourages a process over outcome approach. By focussing on productivity at a quick study level, the ambiguity of a students true playing level quickly disappears. A teacher can then strategically and occasionally drop in repertoire at a slightly higher level in order to advance their overall progress. As a student's abilities grow, higher level repertoire will naturally become quick study pieces. This robust process can then continue indefinitely.
How It All Works
Taking Part In
Students work through Bronze, Silver and Gold mini-projects at each grade. The mini-projects have a time limit of 3 months to complete. For each mini-project (at any grade) students individually video record 4 quick study pieces in at least 3 different keys. After completing each mini project, the student will be assessed and providing they meet the required standard, will receive a certificate of completion.
Students can start at the lowest grade and work upwards, or, they can jump straight in at their natural quick study level. They should avoid aiming higher than the grade at which they can learn a piece in 1 to 2 weeks, as they may struggle to learn and polish their 4 pieces in time. Remember, the aim of Repertoire Awards is to gain playing experience and musical knowledge by frequently learning new pieces with different keys, expressive qualities and technical requirements.
Can Be Used?
Students are welcome to use any publication that states the grade of the pieces within it. Such publications stretch from pre grade 1 (sometimes referred to as Initial), right up to grade 8. Likewise, you may use any piece listed on any piano syllabus that states the grade of the piece. The syllabus can be past, current, or both.
What Not To Use
For assessment purposes, graded sight reading books for the piano shouldn't be used, as sight reading material is purposely at a lower level of complexity.
How Are The Awards Marked?
Repertoire Awards are marked very simply. The overall mark will reflect how many pieces have achieved the pass standard. As you have to submit 4 pieces for each mini-project, you will receive 1 point for every successful piece. Pieces must also be in at least 3 different keys.
For each piece, a pass is achieved by demonstrating that notation, rhythm and tempo are effectively communicated. If I am satisfied that the player has achieved these 3 basic elements, the piece will pass. If I feel that that the student is struggling to play through the piece, it will not contribute toward the award. On top of this basic pass requirement, elements such as articulation, dynamics will achieve extra points. These 2 additional elements of performance will receive 1 extra point each. Therefore, a piece that achieves a pass with 2 extra points will be displayed as a 1:2 on the certificate.
Can You Fail A Repertoire Award?
Yes, it is possible for an award to be unsuccessful. If all four pieces are not recorded within the 3 month timeframe, the award will not be considered complete, and a certificate will not be issued. This should however be a very rare occurrence, because Repertoire Awards is all about learning quick study pieces at your natural playing level. As long as you are submitting pieces that are achievable in 1 to 2 weeks, as well as practising regularly, you will pass. Also, you are welcome to record each piece as many times as you like until you have the best performance you can produce.
With this in mind, it is worth thinking about whether you can fully commit to working on the award over the 3 month period. If the student is going to be on holiday for an extended time, or has other commitments such as school exams to prepare for, I would recommend that working on your award doesn't coincide with this sort of disruption.