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In addition to a wealth of new teaching ideas, I learned about new methods and curriculum materials, some of which I plan to incorporate into my teaching this year. The most influential and valuable resource? The Music Development Program's Piano Syllabus (update: 2015 Edition).
Here's what I love about the MDP syllabus:
1. The repertoire leveling is done for you.
2. The technical skills are sequenced by level, including pattern variations (i.e. scales in contrary motion) and key assignments.
3. It includes musicianship skills - namely, aural skills and sightreading - and a variety of ways to teach them.
4. The repertoire recommendations are selected from a variety of method books and collected series.
5. It's free and it's available online.
How am I using this in my teaching? One big way is repertoire planning.
This year, I'm creating a repertoire plan for each of my students in advance of our first lesson of the academic year. Some of my students are in between MDP levels, which is fine; others seem to fall right at the beginning of a new level.
Either way, the MDP syllabus provides a great list of repertoire that is skill-appropriate while still providing a challenge. Here is how I created each repertoire plan:
Repertoire: As a starting place, this list includes 8-10 leveled pieces from method books and collections, divided relatively equally between MDP syllabus lists (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, Inventions, Etudes, etc.).
Sightreading: For most of my students, this is a method book (I use the Music Tree series most often) that is 1-2 levels below their performance level.
Duets: I love duets and I think it's so important to include some duet or ensemble music in a repertoire plan for the year. I like the Side by Side books for younger students and I have a few new books picked out for some of my intermediate students to play with each other.
Performance: This may be a collection of classical pieces, modern compositions, or "fun" pieces - whatever suits the student - but the important thing is that it's at the student's performance level.
Goals: Depending on the age of the student, this may be their goals voiced to me in the interview or in lessons (i.e. learn to play ______) or they may be my goals for the student's progress (i.e. finish this method book in four months). Either way, it gives me something to work toward in my planning so that we're not just working week-to-week, we're taking measurable action steps toward something greater.
Do you create repertoire plans for your students? I'd love to hear about your experiences!