Pin It

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Piano Mom

My friend whose son recently achieved a mark of 86 for his first ever Grade 1 RCM exam, asked me if that was a good mark. She told me the teacher did not comment or congratulate him on it and gave no further feedback. I couldn't tell which of those statements were more strange?

I started off with the typical Asian mom answer, well what happened to the other 14% but she wasn't quite sure if I was joking. Anyway my giggling was giving me away. I really had to lay it on thick.

Me: "First Class Honours is 80% but First Class Honours with Distinction is 90% and up``
Mom: OK
Me: "Well you have to ask yourself if you think it's a good mark."
Mom: "Yah but I don't know."
Me: "Well if your son came back with a mark of 86% for math would you be mad at him or happy?"
Mom: "I don't know"

Wow, harsh mom from China! I was actually starting to get confused if she just wanted me to say that it was a really awesome mark and she should be really proud of him.

Me: "Well I think that's a pretty awesome mark and you should be really proud of him. I'd be pretty happy with my student for getting that mark"

I did have a student who got 86 for his Grade 1 Exam too a few years ago. He's in Grade 5 piano now but he's been too busy playing basketball to be focused enough for that exam.

Fortunately, a recent RCM newsletter, the RCM Music Matters gives a very neutral and well rounded response to that question. I won`t quote it word for word so you can track it down yourself.

The marking criteria for practical piano exams is mapped out in the RCM Syllabus 2008 Edition.

Excellent: First Class Honours with Distinction
Very Good: First Class Honours
80 - 84: A performance that is confident, musically interesting, and generally secure technically
85 - 89: An engaging performance that reflects fine preparation; displays technical ease, characterization, and a sense of spontaneity
90 above: Exceptional performance, demonstrating technical command, mastery, deep awareness of style and character, sophisticated musical shaping, effecting communication skills. And I like this one, an authentic performance spark.

I really like that last one, the spark. That`s exactly what I look for to nurture in each of my students. I have to honest that some have it naturally, some have yet to find it. But one you meet someone or hear someone in concert who has it, it is awesome. I might have been generous to say that 86% was an awesome mark, but it is still something to be proud of.

On the other hand, growing up my mom always expected me to have First Class Honours for all the grades. Only once did a I surpass that basic expectation and got First Class Honours with Distinction for Grade 9. What will I expect of my kids when they officially start piano. What kind of piano mom or soccer mom are you.

No comments: