Awards in Excellence
Some students are born performers, most are not. I have been encouraging my students who are preparing for DVMTA's Music Marathon to practice performing. Just like practicing the piano helps you improve, one needs to practice performing in order to get better at performing.
Play for your family, friends and anyone who will listen. Play for the residents at a nursing home. Participate in DVMTA events. Perform often and on different pianos. Pianos feel and play differently.
Students need to be able to adjust to performing on different pianos. Have them memorize their music. The better they know their piece, the better they will perform when nerves kick in. Muscle memory will take over. The younger they start performing, the better.
Generally, it will get easier the more they perform. Music Marathon is a great place to "practice performing" for our upcoming competition in April.
Claire Westlake, Chair
Although Achievement Day is months away, it’s not too early to start thinking about repertoire, especially for students in level three and above! Students need one memorized and one unmemorized piece for standard requirements and students need three memorized pieces for expanded requirements.
Because Achievement Day doesn’t have a Repertoire List from which to choose pieces, teachers have a lot of freedom in choosing repertoire. Repertoire may be taken from method books and supplements where levels are easy to determine. Once students move beyond method books, it can be a little trickier to determine levels. In this case, the Awards in Excellence Repertoire List on the website can be used to choose more advanced repertoire or gauge difficulty of higher-level pieces. An added bonus for students entering both Awards in Excellence AND Achievement Day is that they can use the same pieces for both events! Another excellent resource for determining levels of classical repertoire is Jane MacGrath’s The Pianist’s Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature.
Keep in mind that Achievement Day celebrates the year’s growth. Because of this, it is perfectly acceptable to use any repertoire that the student has learned throughout the year as long as you judge the repertoire to be appropriate for the level at which the student will be testing on Achievement Day. Sometimes students will really surprise me early in the year with the way they perform certain pieces. The piece may utilize some of the student’s strongest techniques or it may move a student to show off his or her musicianship especially well. These “gems” can be placed in a “simmering pot” and brought out later in the year to memorize for Achievement Day. As the “gem stews”, students can be instructed to keep the piece fresh by playing through it at least once every week or two so it doesn’t have to be relearned.
The most important thing to remember about selecting repertoire is that Achievement Day is not a competition. The information gained from each student is for you, the student and the parents. Therefore, even though the event offers guidelines, you ultimately make the decision whether or not your students have successfully met the requirements.
If you have any questions about the event, contact Carolyn Rooder email@example.com or 602-527-1721 and she will help you.
Carolyn Rooder, chair