I would love to commission the following study.
Surprise Leaving and Junior Cert students one month after their exams with a new set of exams – based on the same curricula, but for which they have had no preparation, bar the 14 years of schooling they completed one month earlier. Well maybe not a full set of exams – that would be cruel (!) – but even a new exam for one subject would suffice.
Then when you compare the results from the original exam to the no-prep exam sat one month later you will see how much knowledge has been lost after one month, and hence how much of it was properly encoded in the first place.
I know it’s a complicated area, and I’m slow to criticise because right now I don’t have any better suggestions, but it’s leading me on to a similar situation in music and specifically piano education.
The grade system has many strengths, but for people who want to be able to sit down at a piano and play organically, without the help of sheet music, much of what you learn is not of use. I have heard hundreds of people over the years say to me that they did all the grades when they were younger but now sit down at a piano and don’t know where to start. A bit like the Leaving Cert students who I suspect wouldn’t fare quite so well at their exams one month later.
And, unfortunately, that’s entirely understandable – but if playing organically at a piano is what you wanted to be able to do, well then you probably shouldn’t have done all those exams, because that’s not what they were training you to do.
That being said, alternatives weren’t and indeed aren’t exactly plentiful.
But I have one now.
When I started teaching piano 14 years ago – I had no official qualifications, but I knew how to play. I could sit down at a piano, and create my own version of pretty much any song I knew in my head. I thought long and hard about the steps I went through in order to be able to do that, and in my teaching attempted to transfer that knowledge to others.
And now, with the experience and knowledge gained during the thousands of teaching hours in that time, I have formalised my techniques and created my own new and structured method. So if you want to be able to sit down at the piano and just play, well I will train you to do exactly that, through focusing on improving your ear, your musical knowledge and of course your playing.
But it’s won’t be for everyone.
It depends on what you want to get out of your piano playing, how good you are at working consistently at your practice, and how happy you are to work independently of any sheet music.
But it will give you a big picture of musical knowledge that will stay with you for life, help you see music in a similar way to the professionals, and make you musically independent of any teacher.
If you’re in Sligo and fancy giving this a try, well then for the first time in many Septembers I have some availability and am looking for expressions of interest so please contact me by email ASAP on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re not well then fear not, because from September I will be publishing the first of my online piano tuition videos, so you can learn from anywhere in the world.
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