Classical grading through A.M.E.B. Graded examinations
Alla's are proud to offer all services required to prepare students for A.M.E.B. (Australian Music Examinations Board) graded written and/or practical examinations. These are held externally and require a high level of commitment from the student in relation to:
a.) Technical skills. This includes Scales, Arpeggios and preparation of approved Assessment pieces selected from prescribed lists.
b.) Music theory knowledge. Written, Sight-reading and Aural training and general knowledge. This encompasses tonality, form, structure, modality, genres, rhythm, expression, accent, arrangement and a full vocabulary music terminology.
c.) Commitment to regular practice and implementation of the necessary drills and study pieces for further skill development.
d.) Comprehension and adherence to all regulations stipulated in the A.M.E.B. syllabus and examinations guidelines: including posture, protocol and knowledge of pieces and composers.
Alla's tutors will assess their student's level of competency and commitment and from this point recommend the A.M.E.B. examination level and category most suited to the student.
This may not necessarily be a classical exam. The A.M.E.B. also offer a 'for leisure' examination pathway for certain instruments, which lead to certificates without classical grading. This option ensures a level of skill and competency in genres other than classical but can also include it should the student desire.
Due to the high standards of the A.M.E.B., once a student commits to an examination date and Alla's book the A.M.E.B. exam, the dedication to this exam will be priority. Any further study of the instrument will be at the tutor's discretion/suggestion and/or the responsibility of the student.
Basic lesson structure is as follows:
1.) Revision of previous lesson/s as necessary with a focus on theory delivered previously and revision of areas of strength and weaknesses of the specific student and explanation of the intended outcomes of the planned lesson.
An 'Outcome' example for a lesson may be: "In this session we're going to explore and learn the A Harmonic minor scale in similar motion over a range of two octaves." OR "Today we will focus on the expression marks of your List A piece because you have learned the rhythm and melody and now it is time to add the dynamics to the piece".
2.) Warm-up exercises including stretches and drills.
This is a professional practice and assists the students of any age to limber up before playing, thus attaining a greater responsiveness from their bodies and minds (and souls). It works to establish a focused mindset within younger students, allowing them to recognize the benefits of warming up at an early age and subliminally implementing in them a professional standard of preparation for study, work or performance on their chosen instrument/s.
3.) Practical theory development through approved scales and arpeggios from prescribed A.M.E.B. lists.
The benefits of practical theory development are so great that it is impossible to list them all. Basically these theory exercises are the essence of classical music performance and most other musical genres. Knowing the scales and arpeggios of the keys from which a student's study and free-choice pieces are created is the absolute foundation for the comprehension of the pieces themselves.
Put in simple terms: Music is made from notes of scales/keys, therefore if you learn the scales/keys/arpeggios and other drills of those selected notes, then you can focus on bringing the pieces to life.
The best analogy is an actor with lines to remember. If all they are doing is recalling lines, the performance is boring. If they learned their lines solidly, they can focus on creating the character.
4.) Practical performance development through the refinement and mastery of Examination pieces from prescribed A.M.E.B. lists or approved student-selected works.
5.) Free choice piece - Every second or third lesson will involve working on a "free choice" piece, selected by the student with the guidance and approval of the tutor. This piece should function as a ‘study', which focuses on a certain aspect of the student's current progress and which develops their skills in similar elements to their exam pieces. The piece should still be fun and also serve as somewhat of a relief to the intensity of examination preparation.
6.) Revision of key points of learning from the lesson is the summary and conclusion of each session.
Revision is CRUCIAL in the progress of any student of any subject.
Studies have proven that a high percentage of students at any age, of any discipline, best remember the information imparted at the beginning of the session and the end of the session.
By revising each session at the end and then again at the start of the next session, the information is not only reinforced through reiteration, it encourages the student to improve their recall abilities, which is essentially what learning is all about.
This simple technique also allows the tutor to recognize any repeatedly remembered or forgotten elements, which highlights the students favored learning areas and delivery styles. This then allows the tutor greater insight as to which areas to focus on, which delivery techniques to avoid and which to use more frequently.
Revision creates a smooth flow of progress and keeps both the student and the tutor updated as to the student's current status.
It is recommended that for third Grade and beyond a student would benefit greatly from a forty-five (45) minute weekly session as a minimum, rather than the standard thirty (30) minute session for preliminary through to second grade. This is due to the demanding nature of the grades from third and beyond.
The delivery of the necessary content in this stream is based on the A.M.E.B. specifications. This still allows the tutor some scope to streamline their delivery in ways that the individual student will best absorb and comprehend the content. Each student learns effectively in a different way be it more predominantly a visual (sight), auditory (sound) or kinesthetic (action) preferred delivery. Tutors are encouraged to use a wide array of teaching methods ranging from written paper activity sheets to tablet-based theory applications, games, drills, white-board illustration, demonstrations and the occasional inspirational aid such as recordings or live performances.
Assessment occurs continually during the lessons and is achieved through a variety of methods from direct questioning, written exercises, demonstration and performance. Much of the assessment process comes from the tutor witnessing the student's performance and development of their skills.
This is noted in the student profile and/or recorded in the student's practice diary so both are aware of the student's current progress at all times. The student has access to the information/theory imparted to them at all times. Students and in some cases, their parents, are paying for knowledge and that knowledge must be imparted and documented for them as accurately as possible, so they can utilize it in their own time.
Lessons are considered a small part in the development of a musician (or any student) – the growth comes from the self-discipline of the student and the support of family members and loved ones. A lesson gives the student the information for them to become engaged and connected, the student's responsibility is to maintain that connection and deepen it through exploration on their own. This is where the magic happens and the inspiration of tutors can spark incredible talent.
Ultimately the structure is as follows:
1.) Lesson (30/45/60 minutes weekly)
2.) Practice (60/120/240+ minutes weekly)
3.) Performance Unlimited
If in an ensemble the structure is as follows:
1.) Lesson (30/45/60 minutes weekly)
2.) Practice (60/120/240+ minutes weekly)
3.) Rehearsal (60/120/240+ minutes weekly)
4.) Performance Unlimited
There is a major difference between practice and rehearsal:
Practice is learning and honing your part.
Rehearsal is the combination of parts already learned by each player. This time is extremely valuable, spent by a large group and not to be wasted by unprepared students.
End of Term assessments usually provide a greater understanding of a student's progress due to the scope of time involved. Revision of any difficult or in-depth concepts is best held at this point (during the last lesson of the term) and the reward for efforts and achievements made by the student for the term are a great morale booster and system for land-marking the student's improvement and growth.
SCHOOL YEAR OUTLINE
With each 6 month at the end of June and December the tutor will impart the necessary theory and practical skills required for the upcoming exam and will do so in an accumulative system, allowing the student to grasp each concept and element as they are introduced. This gradual building of skills, knowledge and ability is the most beneficial method of delivery for any student as it minimizes the potential of "overloading" and delivers the information in a slow and steady stream. Each element required is layered over the course of a term or, when necessary, terms, so the student gains full comprehension and develops long-standing abilities built on a strong foundation.
Tutors will be adding new exercises, new theory insights, new practical drills and various tests from rhythmic dictation through to aural training, in order to stimulate and reinforce concepts previously introduced. This may include:
- Prescribed developmental technical drills from books such as the HANON range and other materials.
- Detailed explanation of the keys/scales from the circle of fifths and the circle of fourths.
- Intervallic recognition (Ascending and descending) and technical explanation of intervals.
- Chord structures, Chord progressions and Modality.
- Rhythmic dictation and Polyrhythmic demonstration.
- Various time signatures and the genres by which they are accompanied.
At the conclusion of 6 month Alla's will issue a 'Student Progress Report', which includes an assessment of the following aspects:
- Technical ability,
- Musicality Expressions,
- Aural skills,
- General knowledge.
Also included in the term progress report is the level of enthusiasm
1.) During class and
2.) At home.
There are many other factors involved in the measurement of the progress of voice students and the report document is available on request however the reports will also be issued at the conclusion of each 6 month as are the instrumental student reports.
Essentially the yearly outcomes differ from student to student (due to skill levels) but they remain consistent in that the theory and practical skills must be developed greatly over this time.
One would expect a student, in the course of a year to have attained some, if not most of the following skills:
1.) A wide range of written, aural and practical theory including note recognition (including accidentals), interval recognition, chord recognition (including inversions) and chord harmonisations and progressions, scales, keys and arrangement markings and structures.
2.) A basic understanding of the era/time in which the compositions were created and thereby the elements which define the style of the pieces – allowing the student to demonstrate this understanding through the playing and presentation of the pieces.
3.) Gained greater fluency in their practical playing of technical exercises and prescribed pieces, to the point where a tutor is able to assess their competence in relation to their upcoming examination. One would expect after a year of tuition and self-disciplinary practice regimens that the student should be very close to final preparation for their examinations, depending on the date booked and the level for which has been applied. It is advisable not to book an examination until the tutor has assessed how much time should be needed for preparation. It is more likely a student will achieve a positive result when preparation for the examination was thorough. This will also most likely result in the student continuing to study in an energised and focused fashion.
4.) Confidence and competence on their given instrument far beyond the level they were at commencing the year. Sometimes it is beneficial for a tutor to record a student playing the same piece at the start of the year and at the end of the year to demonstrate the amount of growth the student has attained. This often serves as a fantastic motivator and morale booster.
Assessment matrixes can be created if a student wishes to accurately measure their progress, although the time would most likely be better spent on theory, practical exercises, performance and demonstration of skills, rather than a clinical dissection. It is rare that an assessment matrix is needed because most tutors are consistent in their delivery of calibrated and incremental exercises and the developmental learning pathway of their students and are acutely aware of each individual student's growth at key points.