With term 4 coming to a close it’s time for Poco Piano Studio to launch our first ever 20 piece challenge. The challenge was inspired by the ’40 Piece Challenge’ run by The Art of Piano Pedagogy, a Facebook group consisting of over 10,000 piano teachers around the globe. Intrigued to learn more I read a blog post by Elissa Milne, ‘Where did the 40 Piece Challenge Begin?’. The aim of the challenge is to enrich our music studies by learning a greater quantity of work, but how does that work?
The way beginners learn music is radically different from the way intermediate or advanced students learn music (in my experience as both piano student and teacher). Every beginner method book I have encountered contains many short pieces for the student to learn quickly, with each piece usually introducing a new musical concept. This seems to be the norm when it comes to beginner students. It makes sense to structure lessons this way as there is so much for new students to learn! But as the students advance the music they learn becomes increasingly complex and they start to learn less overall. Some only learn what they need for their exam only to repeat the process the following year. Undoubtably music exams have a place in piano tuition, but focusing exclusively on exam repertoire results in many missed learning opportunities for the students.
Most of my students (excluding beginners) are currently learning around 5-10 pieces a year. Why do we limit them to so few pieces? It is not because there is less for them to learn because that simply isn’t true! The twenty piece challenge aims to raise the bar, encouraging these students to learn at least twice as much in half the time! The challenge will introduce students to a variety of new skills, styles and techniques they otherwise have not encountered. Commencing on the last week of Term 4 (2015) students will have until the end of Term 2 (2016) to learn 20 pieces and earn themselves a studio certificate. The first student to achieve the goal will receive a small prize… nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition!
The challenge only has 2 rules
- Level doesn’t matter: part of what slows students learning down is they only attempt music at the highest level they can handle. While students will continue to work on graded repertoire additional pieces need not be at this standard of playing.
- Every piece must teach something new. While level doesn’t matter the student must learn something from each piece. Students can learn new skills, styles and techniques that will contribute to their overall piano playing and musical knowledge.
I’m very excited for the challenge to begin… good luck to all the students!