2011 MTNA Conference | The Royal Conservatory/Achievement Program

TUESDAY at 1pm: The Royal Conservatory: Celebrate Student Success: Recognizing Student Achievement Through Meaningful Assessment

This session celebrated the recent collaboration between Carnegie Hall and the Royal Conservatory to promote The Achievement Program (previously the National Music Certificate Program) as a national standard in the U.S.  A number of individuals who are actively involved with this program spoke about the features and advantages of this program.

Marvin Blickenstaff commented on the purpose of a national standard to establish a clear, consistent meaningful structure to piano education.  He also mentioned about the wonderful repertoire and supplemental materials available.  The Celebration Series, in fact, won the Francis Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award in 2007 for its comprehensive scope, quality, handbook for teachers, and supplemental books (read more here).

Nest, Andrew Hisey talked about the technical/essential skills that The Achievement Program helps to develop in the student.  The Achivement Program tests ear and sight skills, rudiments (scales, arpeggios, chords, etc), sightreading, rhythms, and technique.  There are many excellent supplemental materials for teachers to use with their students to prepare for these areas of testing.

Janet Lopinski indentified The Achivement Program as a tangible tool box for the teacher because it supports and reinforces musicianship skills.  Having a third party assesment is also valuable for the teacher to assess his/her own effectiveness.  Janet also talked about the written theory tests that are part of The Achievement Program which are intended to ensure music literacy and understanding of how music is constructed.

Sheila Vail is a Cincinatti teacher who has had great success with the NMCP/Achievement Program in her studio.  She says to look at the results:  She enjoys having a more structured and leveled way to teach sightreading and ear training.  She loves the clear leveling, various styles of music, and comprehensiveness in general.  She found that parents loved it, especially the quality of the assessment and the beautiful language of the adjudicators’ comments.  She found that students in her studio seemed more likely to take lessons longer and strive to higher levels.  She also feels that she has become a better teacher as a result of using this program.

From the comments of these various individuals, there seem to be many benefits to using an assessment program such as The Achievement Program!  What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “2011 MTNA Conference | The Royal Conservatory/Achievement Program”

  1. I – like many Canadians – have grown up with this system. I agree that there are many benefits. It’s a system I wouldn’t want to be without but there are some precautionary measures that must be taken. It’s very easy to get caught up in the whole system and miss out on many other good things; also, in some circles it’s highly competitive and achieving the different levels becomes the end in itself, rather than the means to becoming a good musician.
    I’ve written more on this on my blog – search “Examinations”.
    All the best with this!

  2. I agree with LaDona. It’s invaluable, as long as you don’t let it become the be-all and end-all. All of my students do exams at one point or another, but most of them don’t do every exam…I make sure they keep up their technique,etc. at the level of their pieces, so when they do decide to go for an exam there isn’t a huge amount of catching up to do.

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