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Do you have a "no exam" studio?


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#1 semplice

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 08:13

Or even a studio where you rarely put students in for exams? Tell me about your journey to this decision and if it has worked for you. 

 

I have been daydreaming about it ... just curious if it is a reality for any teachers out there. 

 

 


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#2 ma non troppo

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:10

I would lose a lot of students if I did this. Even many of my adult students want to do exams. I think in the UK it would be difficult to earn a livable income by saying "no exams" . As a teacher it's not my right to limit choices in this way for my students.
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#3 Bagpuss

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:33

I've only just jumped the sinking ship, but when my practice was at full strength only about a quarter of my pupils went down the exam route.  I neither actively encouraged or discouraged it (MOST of the time).

This July will be the first term I've not had any candidates in since 1992!  And it feels really rather goooood.....

New-Job-Bag xx


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#4 sbhoa

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 10:12

I have a very low uptake for exams among my students and always have.

Generally it's just happened that most of my students have not wanted to do exams. 

I do ask along the way as people can change their mind but I try to make it clear that exams are far from being essential to learning.


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#5 BadStrad

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 10:15

Four local teachers are "no exam" teachers. They all are, or have been, professional musicians and went through the exam system themselves when they were kids. Rarely one or other might enter a kid for grade eight, but that is *very* rare. One teaches only adults, the others teach kids and adults. They are not short of pupils. They are clearly the best teachers in the area and turn out excellent musicians, so people study with them.

I suspect they take the opposite view to MNT - that a focus on exams can be limiting.
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#6 Piedflutey

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 11:37

Very encouraged by this thread as after 15 years of teaching at independent schools and for a Music Hub I have had enough of teaching to exams. It was incredibly stressful and mostly done to boost  figures which look good in publicity and justify the hub's existence. The Music Hub Head actually told us that parents would wonder what they were paying for if their children didn't do exams! Yes I got good results but most of the time it was like pushing multiple stones up hills! And once they got up the hill many abandoned lessons. My most enjoyable teaching moments have been when students have simply loved playing - whatever their age or standard. Anyhoo, I am now only teaching from home and unless particularly requested hope to avoid the exam taking hamster wheel. 


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#7 HelenVJ

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 12:16

While I'm not quite brave enough to adopt a No Exams Ever policy, I do make it clear to all propective Piano Families that my teaching is not exam-centred or exam-based. The look of sheer relief on the faces of some teenage transfer students is particularly refreshing - and usually not because they are bone idle and plan to do very little work! They often become my best students, with a genuine interest in playing the piano. We have time to work on improvisation, duets, ensemble work, keyboard harmony, composing and arranging - rather than being fixed on Grade 8 as the ultimate goal so they can put it on their UCAS form and then never touch the piano again. They become well-rounded musicians despite not having prepared hundreds of scales etc or jumped through the abstruse hoop of the aural requirements.
I don't see this as 'limiting choices'. But if parents are adamant that they want to go down the exam route, there are quite a few local teachers round here, like ma non troppo, who do just that, and I happily pass on the contact details. I haven't found this policy to be detrimental to my income in any way - quite the reverse.
From time to time it is appropriate for students to take an exam, and then we use the Trinity syllabus as in my view it is the most muscial and humane.


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#8 Dorcas

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 16:17

I am definitely not an exam based teacher.  Only a few of my students take exams, and only if they want to do so.  Personally, just teaching to the exam is sterile and not productive.


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#9 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 17:07

An eye-opening thread for me. I had imagined the vast majority of learners took exams too and (for some unjustifiable reason) all but the premier league of teachers with a select handful of silly-talented students signposted pupils to exams.

 

I'm struggling terribly with my grade 3 so may reflect seriously on my exam journey after the summer session.


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#10 ma non troppo

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 19:10

I don't view exams as being all important. Just to clarify. However, the majority of my students do.
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#11 Sautillé

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 19:55

Interesting... I just cannot imagine that this could be possible in the environment in which I teach, and the pressure of delivering a high turnover of exams, set against the abilities and extra curricular activities of my pupils makes for an eventful journey. Increasingly I find myself taking the Trinity option due to the longer/more flexible exam system. I can refuse to enter children before they are ready as I don’t have to take a gamble 11 weeks in advance, I don’t need to end up in the 1 term stress of the syllabus overlap period and, up to G5, I feel the exams can be more approachable, whether I agree with this musically or not. As a private teacher, my reputation is 90% based on exam success, there isn’t any other choice. On the plus side, a mention of low exam expectations does wonders in the piano practice stakes!!
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#12 BadStrad

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 21:11

As a private teacher, my reputation is 90% based on exam success, there isn’t any other choice.

I guess that is one of the advantages of living in Wales: there are umpteen Eisteddfodau and music competitions at which to perform. Word soon gets around who taught the top players and singers. But even without those, word of mouth (about who producers good musicians) is better than any other form of advertising.
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#13 Cyrilla

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 21:24

At my JD there are several teachers who never, or rarely, put their (very able) students in for exams.

 

Even my OH (professional musician, not a teacher), back in the Dark Ages when he was a child, had teachers who only put him in for Grades 5 and 8 (cello, piano, organ, theory).

 

I'm going to go now before I get stuck into the question of assessments, tests and exams in general...(because I won't stop once I start).

 

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#14 jpiano

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 21:57

I make it clear to new pupils and their parents from the outset that my teaching is not exam-centered, and that taking grades is a part of what we do but not the whole. It varies according to the balance of pupils/adults/beginners but at present, just under 50% of my pupils take grade exams.


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#15 ma non troppo

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 22:11

I just discussed this with an adult student who is also a friend and who wants to do exams. She told me that it was "a bit rich" for me to sit there with all my qualifications and letters after my name and suggest that students shouldn't have the same opportunity if they so wish. I think she has a point.

I am not a huge fan of abrsm, especially recently, but it is the reality of what many people want. I don't push the exams at students, but I think it is wrong to underestimate what the achievements mean to people. I ask what people want and try to help them in their goals. If that is to sit exams, then so be it. It isn't for me to quash their dreams really, although yes, I am honest and realistic.
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