Music exams

Recently I read a post on one of the blogs that I am following about piano exams – Trinity and ABRSM. 
For those of you who are not into music, I will explain a bit. In western Europe professional free -government primary and music schools rarely exist. You either find a private teacher or join a private afternoon school. Their goal is to teach an instrument and the way to judge your level and progress is to take the grade exams. They start from Initial to Grade 8 and after that you can take a diploma exams . First one is equivalent to 1st year in Music Conservatory,second level is equivalent to diploma in Music Conservatory and the last, third one, is the postgraduate diploma. I think these exam can be useful but they do not provide you with the same level of knowledge that professional music school or Music Conservatory would. Mostly students take piano and maybe theory lessons but they are missing out on all the other subject studied in music school simply because there is not enough time to do it during 30 minutes lesson once a week. When lessons are that short and not very often, I have noticed that teachers prepare with their pupils just the 3 required pieces and scales for the exam and that is it. And then the students pass the exam and are proud of having grade x but what does it actually mean? That he had studied 3 pieces for the last 6-9 months…That doesn’t teach him much. Many people can do this….It doesn’t broaden their musical horizons, doesn’t challenge them in any way…One could say, why don’t you teach them other pieces in the meantime. I guess that is what we are trying to do but with lessons once a week, some missed due to illness or public holidays and pressure from parents to do the exam now, it is not easy… I am trying to focus more on teaching and deepening the musical knowledge while simultaneously doing the exams but I have to say it mostly works with really dedicated students…What do you think?
I reckon that it would be useful to have a syllabus and must have done pieces lists and until the student has covered then, he cannot take the exam. I am not so sure ho2 can e proven but this is how it works in public music schools which do not have grade exam system but just promotion to next level…Just a thought though…


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