Strad Article: Should music tuition revolve around exams?
I think exams have merit and should not be done away with entirely. They are a good way to measure a student's ability, and passing an exam or achieving a certain grade is a good goal to set. Certainly, if a student enters a conservatory, playing exams will be unavoidable. But no one thing - quitting the instrument, attending a summer program, lessons, etc. - should revolve around passing an exam. Exams are not auditions. Perhaps a compromise could be exam listeners giving comments instead of number grades and grading it as a pass/fail. That may be a whole discussion in itself.
Well, that is what I think. Please read the article, and then I want to hear what you think.
Such an argument as presented by the author of the Strad article is neither new nor confined to music education. Similar arguments may be made to other subjects.
It's all about demographics.
I'd say either scrap them, or make them very optional. When these exams take over entire communities, the instructional environment seems becomes very bureaucratic, rigid, and impersonal.
Is the US the only major Western country without a music exam system?
Lydia, that sounds about right. NY has NYSSMA, where students play every year for one judge and get a grade. It is not mandatory, and there are tons who do not do it. The scores are used for All-State, things like that. I am pretty sure most states have something along those lines, but we do not have anything like what the UK or other countries have.
Mainly a personal anecdotal response:
I have never heard about a music exam system in Germany. From what I know it is possible to join the British one. But no teacher ever recommended taking exams to me.
From my experience it all depends on the relationship between teacher and students working, and if it does it might or might not include exams.
How do you grade art? The field is completely subjective. This is just preposterous.
And yet figure skating is an Olympic sport.
We need exams and compteitions for admissions, to justify the expense of our lessons to our parents, to be able to give of our best under stress, or to show off to our peers.
"How do you grade art? The field is completely subjective. This is just preposterous."
What Mr. Cole said. 10 different people will play the same Bach sonata 10 completely different ways, but all will either play in tune or out of tune. Music is both objective and subjective.
Thanks, OP - I agree with you.
Exalms are fine if they are treated as a consecration of what has been already acheived, rather than as a barrier to overcome.
The short answer is No, but what is more important is how a teacher can use exams as a tool to motivate and set achievable goals for the students.
Even what we would consider objective things ( intonation, rhythm, setup ), can end up being more subjective and prone to bias than one would think, though for the most part we kind of know what's clearly bad when we see it. I do think instrumental performance lends itself to a little bit more objectivity than, say, composition, or painting.
Lieschen, that is very interesting. Thank you.
But I think if you are in a situation where your judges are parsing your leading tones according to their individual taste, rather than counting the number of times they wince at obvious clinkers, maybe you've left the general jurisdiction of the school exam anyway?
Subjectivity and all that it entails simply goes hand-in-hand with the profession. People win and lose auditions on very picky subjective things.
I think the idea and motivation behind the article is great and I tend to agree. The problem with the article, it's arguments and those that make them is that the only other paths presented are nebulous at best. Vague, shadowy and murky connections to ideals that have meaning only in the "pursuit of music for it's own sake" thought processes.
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