As I have struggled with how best to advance the glut of students that I have in first or second year, I have questioned whether grade 1 isn’t harder than it used to be; I have also grown frustrated with some of the rigid reliance on particular methods that I see. After yesterday’s post, Beverly Porter (long time teacher and composer) commented that she keeps students progressing through supplementary music until they know their way around the piano and printed page enough to enter the more satisfying grade 2. This was a light bulb moment for me! It’s a logical extension of my thoughts of getting too trapped by a particular method – in this case, the method being the physical grade 1 book.
There are so many terrific elementary pieces to let the students play – pieces that have already stood the test of time, whether for centuries or just a few years (there are a number of contemporary Canadian composers – younger than me – who are perennial favourites among my students). Teaching the skills alongside the proven repertoire, along with a few carefully chosen, unproven new pieces, sounds like a much better way to proceed.
And really, how appealing for the student to think he or she has “skipped” grade 1!
Thank you so much to Beverly, as well as to the other teachers who have more experience than I do. Thank you for your wisdom and the willingness to pass it along. This is, after all, the history of our art.