NCKP 2013 (4) – Developing a Curriculum for the Intermediate Transfer Student, by Jane Magrath

Wednesday – Developing a Curriculum for the Intermediate Transfer Student by Jane Magrath

There is so much to choose from – How do we choose curriculum?

“Curriculum” comes from the Latin for “a course for racing.”

Teach what you know. If you don’t do jazz, let the student get a jazz teacher!
We can’t do everything at once. Start with what you teach well.
The idea of leveling is so important. The levels are just a frame of reference – not a definite order.

Finding a student level:
Step 1: Ask the student to sight read only one or two lines of three pieces from a leveled literature series. Help the student find the tempo and counting at the beginning. Test the student by switching books to other levels and evaluate. Find the student’s sight reading level.
Step 2: Assign literature for study that is about 2 levels higher than their reading level.

Determining Difficulty Level of Pieces:
– Number of musical ideas
– Feel on the keyboard – awkward or pianistic
– Presence or absence of patterns
– Double notes – starting in level 6 typically
– Thickness of texture
– Skips – number of, distance, type
– Aural memory and predictability of melody and phrasing

Components of a Curriculum – 6 working books total:
– Core repertoire book – something progressive
– Sheet music selection or another rep book
– Fun book – hymns, broadway, pop, duets
– Sight reading plan, or reading pieces
– Additional areas – you determine.
– Plus technique warm ups and exercises.

Dr. Magrath has her pedagogy student practice planning curriculums for hypothetical students at various levels.

Thoughts on what to teach:

– Core repertoire could be Masterwork Classics, Celebration Series, Marlais’ Festival. Make a list for yourself of neat repertoire you would like to teach.

– Fun Books – can be anything. Gillock Lyric Preludes, Romantic Impressions, praise music, etc

– Sight Reading – can be instructional books or any repertoire. Four Star Sightreading & Ear Training, A Line A Day, Sit Reading and Rhythm Every Day, or method sight reading books. Or, plan Burgmuller Op. 100, or Clementi sonatinas, etc. Have a teacher lending library. Sight reading should go first or early in the lesson – because students will practice what is first. Or, try having students sit read duets with you. A good example are the simple Diabelli duets. Do it at a slow tempo and with a smile, and students will not fear sight reading.

– Reading pieces aka quick study pieces are a great way to get students adept at sight reading in the lesson. These are pieces that can be finished in 2 or 3 weeks. Or, you can have students read through the entire hymnal.

– Technique – applied versus pure technique.
–> Pure technique is scales, arpeggios, etc. Teachers should think about appropriate tempos for each level. Many state level MTNA chapters offer excellent, leveled technique criteria.
(1) Warm ups or double thirds – five- finger patterns, etc. (2) Scales/arpeggios always present. (3) Misc exercises – ask yourself what your student needs more of. (4) Etudes.
–> Applied technique is about Etudes and exercise books. E.g., Czerny Five Finger Studies, Op. 777; Kohler 12 Easy Studies Op. 157; Czerny-Germer books and Czerny-Liebling books selecting the best of the Czerny studies; Concone 24 Brilliant Prelides for the Piano Op. 37; Hanon; RCM Etudes books; A Dozen A Day; Frances Clark technique books; Jane McGrath Technique books.

– Teaching composition – See the Trinity Guildhall Syllabus 2008 page 7 for ideas for leveled compositions. Other resources: Valerie Cisler from the Alfred Basic course, Chord Play by Forrest Kinney.

– Music Theory – Keith Snell, Joanne Haroutounian – Explorations in Music, Sound Advice, Grace Vendendool – Intermediate Rudiments

– Keyboard Theory – this involves playing cadences and chord progressions.

– Music History & Listening – (1) Alfred’s Great Music & Musicians (new series coming out soon). (2) Assign students to do a composer biography project – PowerPoint or poster or essay every 2-4 weeks. (3) Gillespie – 5 Centuries of Keyboard Literature – actually for college piano lit courses.

– Ear Training. (1) Sound Advice from Frederick Harris. (2) Computer software

– Ensemble Music

– Rhythm Study books

Ending Thoughts:
– Teach to the student. Do what you can, little by little. Don’t teach the same way all the time, but vary your teaching as a way to cover everything.
– Progress quickly.
– Experiment from year to year.
– Make it fun for you as well as for your student.
– Remember to rebalance.

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