Notes from “Tips on Preparing Students for a Successful CM Evaluation”

Below are notes from the October 27th, 2017 round table discussion Event “Tips on Preparing Students for a Successful CM Evaluation.”


What materials are available for Ear Training?

  • Ling Ling’s Ear Training books
  • Theta Music Trainer:
  • MTAC Ear Training (can be ordered from MTAC store)
  • Julie Johnson’s Ear Training books

How do I motivate students to sign up for CM?

  • Let parents talk to each other (i.e. after recital events or studio gatherings)
  • Explain the program at your student recitals (i.e. hand out CM certificate at awards ceremony at Spring Recital)
  • Remember that CM is not appropriate for all students

What is available for composing?

  • Musecore software program
  • Noteflight software program

How do I improve students’ sight reading?

  • Sight Reading & Rhythm Everyday, by Helen Marlais
  • (downloadable app)
  • Tenuto
  • Quizlet
  • Rhythmswing
  • Notability
  • – students will need electric keyboard and can use 30 days for free
    • students will need electric keyboard
    • students have free access for 30 days
    • if connected to teacher’s account, teacher can monitor progress
    • helps students learn by highlighting mistakes in red
    • ear training available as well

When is it appropriate for 60 minute lessons?

  • Some teachers require 60 minute lessons for CM Level 6 and above
  • Put requirement in studio policy

How is theory covered during lesson?

  • Charge extra for CM theory preparation
  • Have parents buy answer book to save on lesson time
  • Assign theory homework to be done at home
  • Order practice tests and test often
  • Relate concepts to students’ repertoire
  • While technique is being played, circle intervals/chords in repertoire for student to identify
  • Avoid explaining material; allow students to learn to read and follow directions instead
  • Use back of theory book for more examples
  • Ask student to teach it back to you
  • Use a white board to practice any difficulties
  • Use “Just the Facts II” for a balanced approach
  • Julie Johnson’s Keyboard Theory workbooks as students’ homework
  • Peggy O’Dell Theory workbook has only practice assignments; explanation is left to the teacher

How do I prepare students to score higher ratings?

  • Evaluators value expression, dynamics in repertoire as well as technique
  • Have students dress up, look presentable
  • Set your student up for a stress-free evaluation (i.e. stack the books, number measures, tab pages, etc.)
  • Focus on details like rubato, dynamics, phrase shapes, etc.
  • Train students to expect the piano to feel and sound different; adjust accordingly
  • Have a mock evaluation
  • Well-prepared technique sets the tone for the evaluation

Tips on Repertoire Choices

  • Let the student choose repertoire
  • Teachers need to educate students on good repertoire
  • Enroll students in lower level than current repertoire
  • Use repertoire that is less known, less popular

How do I help students practice effectively?

  • Be very specific with notes (i.e. play 5 times without mistakes)
  • Have students write down assignment and check off practice items
  • Teach them to practice; don’t teach them the piece
  • Have parents help students practice at home until students reach age 11-12
  • Facetime with students during the week if they need help
  • Older kids should mark their own music
  • Have students record their practice
  • Make practicing efficient (tell them what to do if they have 5, 10, or 30 minutes to practice)
  • Use metronome
  • Copy the difficult passages of their pieces and put it on single page; have them practice using this page
  • Write down how much time they should spend on each piece
  • Educate parents during interview about expectations
  • Train students to do the best they can, not halfway
  • Best students have accountability
  • Make the commitment, not just for fun
  • Treat lessons like school – practice and lessons should not be missed
  • Help students understand delayed gratification

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