Panel Discussion at Winter Piano Seminar

At the Summer Piano Seminar I ran in January of this year, the final session of the afternoon was a panel discussion on general teaching. The panel consisted of myself and the other two presenters of the day, Elissa Milne and Abe Cytyrnowski, as well as Dr Rita Crews, Syllabus Advisor to the AMEB.

Teachers in attendance on the day had cards in their packs on which they could write questions for the panel, which were then put into the yellow ‘question box’. The Master of Ceremonies of the day, Andrew Coates, put the questions to the panel in a very orderly fashion and almost all of the questions were answered before the session concluded.

Feedback from the teachers at the end of the day showed that most found this session extremely informative and enjoyable. Private piano teaching can often be a very isolated experience, and it is so helpful to know that there are others out there going through all the same trials and tribulations!

Quite a few of the questions that were put to the panel related to AMEB practical exams and syllabus issues. These were answered in an unofficial capacity and any conclusions drawn by the panel were purely from anecdotal evidence from our own students’ experiences. It occurred to me afterwards that it would have been extremely helpful to have a ‘real live’ AMEB practical examiner on the panel, to offer some insight into what really goes on behind that closed door!

This coming July, at the Winter Piano Seminar, the afternoon panel discussion will consist of AMEB examiners as well as a couple of representatives from other exam syllabuses, such as ANZCA. The aim of this session is to eliminate some of the guesswork out of exam preparation for teachers. Questions will be answered once again in an unofficial capacity, but it will be very useful for teachers to be able to ask examiners directly about their own personal experiences in examining, for example how they might deal with a particularly nervous student, whether they take memorisation into account when marking, or how they like to examine technical work. It promises to be a stimulating and informative session providing valuable feedback and direction to teachers in NSW.

Samantha Coates

Samantha Coates is a professional pianist and teacher with over 25 years experience in both private and group tuition. She is the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, the music education series that has captured the imagination of students across Australia and transformed the teaching of music theory, sight reading and general knowledge.

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