For pupils learning at school, I have an online system for lesson and practice notes. Each current pupil or parent has a login to access their notes on this website. I update the notes shortly after each lesson and you or your child can check them at any time. They include goals at the beginning of term, and a short assessment at the end of term.
External grades and tests
Many pupils like to do these - they can give additional motivation and a clear, recognised roadmap for learning. Other pupils prefer not to work towards formal tests. I will always let a pupil know when he/she is ready for a particular test - the decision on actual entry is up to the pupil and parent.
In the two decades that I have been teaching, there have been many changes in the world of music examining.
- The time-honoured ABRSM grade tests have been updated, reflecting comtemporary music teaching.
- Completely different styles of music test have been developed - a very good example is the ABRSM Music Medals - which reflect the needs of pupils learning in groups at school, and which emphasise ensemble playing.
- New, smaller examining boards have sprung up. Some of their tests have yet to be validated, but they are sometimes able to respond more quickly than the larger boards to changes in demand. For example, the MTB and Nationwide examining boards offer ukulele grades, which the larger boards have yet to introduce.
- Harnessing the new technology, some of the newer exam systems allow accredited teachers to carry out the tests during regular music lessons. Performances can be sound-recorded or video'd, uploaded and then assessed/moderated online. Skype offers some interesting possibilities too. All these innovations allows us to move beyond the old model of the pupil being driven off to an external exam venue on a Saturday morning and playing in a cold room to a complete stranger!