The instrumental exam season is in full swing and this blog is about how to encourage pupils to polish those pieces just a little more.
In the latest edition of Libretto Nigel Scaife, ABRSM Syllabus Director, reflects on aspects of motivation in music learning. In particular, his comments on the importance of pupils having choice over their learning rang a bell. I first came across 'choice' as a teaching tool when I worked with a Year 1 teacher who showed me just how powerful it is in the classroom. Since then it has been in constant and productive use in my piano lessons.
Here are a few of the ways I might use the CHOICE word:
- In today's lesson we need to work on to your pieces and scales - you CHOOSE which one you would like to start the lesson with.
- Now you have a CHOICE - you can play all the notes in the piece but they aren't telling a story yet; getting the music to tell a story is quite challenging but I think you can do it. It is your CHOICE though.
- Here are two ways of playing this phrase - I will play them and then you CHOOSE which one brings the music to life.
I haven't met many pupils who can resist the challenge and usually make the choice to continue developing their musical understanding of the piece!
Once pupils have chosen to go deeper into the music I like to continue to develop their ability to learn independently by giving them a SELF-REFLECTION SHEET.
I have adapted it for younger students and have found it works a treat. Pupils play through the piece in their lesson and afterwards fill up the form - whilst they do this I usually find something else to do so that they don't feel I am breathing down their neck!
The second page (not shown above but available on the download) helps pupils to identify the weaker areas and I find they are usually quite good at doing this. Sometimes, however, a bit of help and advice is needed to come up with specific ways of practising these areas.
What approach do you use for helping pupils to polish their pieces? Do share them or let me know what happens when you use the self-reflection sheet or try out the CHOICE word.