Exam Letter To Teachers


AUSTRALASIAN TEACHING AND EXAMINATION SYLLABUS
Mark Walton
Although I am heavily involved with and a great supporter of the AMEB and other exam systems I have always felt that there are many students who need some other type of motivation.
I have been writing and re-writing an alternative teaching/examination system that may apply to such students. For the last 18 months I have been trialing this new syllabus with students and teachers and "The New Australasian Clarinet and Saxophone Syllabus" is the end result. This syllabus has already proved popular with teachers and students in different parts of Australia and New Zealand and I am delighted how it seems to encourage some students to greater things. I hope you will find this syllabus a useful alternative to existing examinations.
The main differences with this new syllabus and my reasons for making these changes are:
Instead of 8 Grades there are 14 Levels in 3 books:
Levels 1-4, Levels 5-8, Levels 9-14 The steps between each level are more gradual so the weaker students feel they are making progress
Scales can be played from the music or from memory The fluency that comes from playing scales is unquestioned but the memorisation of scales is often such a turn-off for students
In Levels 1-8 scales are to played within a specified time limit Students respond to this challenge and with the repetition needed to achieve the realistic time limits, they often end up playing the scales from memory anyway
The books come with a CD with play-along tracks or piano accompaniment alone. Students can use the accompaniment for the exam if an accompanist is not available. A piano part is also included with Levels 1-8 Many students find it difficult to find an accompanist to rehearse with regularly and I feel it is also a useful skill to play in time and in tune with an inflexible CD in the early stages in particular
You, the teacher, can examine your own students or if you prefer you can ask a colleague to do so This means that the student can do the exam only when they are ready. You therefore avoid the trauma of having many students all sitting exams on the same day. Of course it takes the tension out of the exam situation which some students thrive on but many others don't!
From Level 1-8 repertoire lists are required with extra marks given if any of the pieces have been performed This encourages students to learn other pieces rather than getting bogged down with just exam preparation
Each exam from Levels 1-8 requires the student to complete the music theory worksheet included in the exam book Great to consolidate the essential background knowledge
Aural tests are represented by ear training tasks related to their instrument Learning how to play by ear is a skill that so many people miss out on
This is a complete examination package:
• a book with all the pieces (Levels 1 -8)
• CD of all the pieces with the solo instrument & piano and also for Levels 1-8 piano accompaniment alone
• music theory sheets
• piano accompaniment book (Levels 1-8)
• mailing out of certificates for each grade. Each exam book contains 4 or 6 Levels. The only other cost for Levels 1-8 is the choice of whether or not to have an accompanist. This is very cost effective for parents and with the money saved students can buy new reeds more often!



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