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Duke of Edinburgh's Award


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#1 linda.ff

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 16:21

I've had several teenagers over the last few years asking me to write an assessment for them for the Duke of Edinburgh;s Award, and sometimes I find this quite difficult

 

It's an easy matter if the goal is to pass a grade (or, say, a swimming certificate, etc) but when they are just "doing piano" for their DofE, it's not quite so cut-and-dried. I end up waffling slightly and saying "Jason has continued to practise every week and has made reasonable progress" which is not terribly measurable. Sometimes it's been someone I have been teaching for years already, sometimes it's someone who only takes up the keyboard in order to fulfill that section of the award, does minimal practice, but turns up to the lessons until I have filled in the form and just vanishes into thin air, but sometimes it can be the start of something lovely - as in the boy I have now had for a term and a half who had done nothing up to the age of 15 in the way of music, mum bought him a digital piano, I signed his form ages ago but he still works and turns up and has been carrying on with this, and we have a brilliant working relationship now.

 

I.m sure many of you have to write this kind of thing for them from time to time, so I wondered if anyone has a sort of basic "template" which they use or adapt. Should I comment on their strengths and weaknesses, should I list pieces they've played, should I go into details about aspects of music that they have learnt over the past term? As it needs a start date, what do I put, if the student has already been with me for four years?


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#2 Norway

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 16:28

I type a list of objectives at the start - PM me your e-mail if you want a for instance. :)


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#3 linda.ff

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 16:52

Hmm... one boy is working for grade 3 - rather hard pressed to get there this term even though we aimed for it ages ago. So for the assessment period we are totally focussed now on getting him through the exam. Objectives at the beginning of a session would just be "learn pieces" and "learn scales", plus I suppose "improve sight-reading" and "develop aural ability" surely? Week by week I will be able to say improve the dynamics here, improve the phrasing here etc, but until I'm actually monitoring his progress through each piece/scale, this kind of objective is a bit spurious, I would have thought.


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#4 Hedgehog

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 20:47

Well, I have had 2 girls do this. No. 1 girl passed grade 5 (phew), so I talked about that and commented on the different skills she had had to work on, and different styles of music.

 

No. 2 girl was more difficult - didn't want to do an exam, and was an intermittent practiser.  So we agreed that she would work on the next grade theory which she was more inclined to do than to practise, and then we agreed that she would learn legato pedalling properly, and try out different styles of music, and she was inclined to download music scores and wanted to play them so she had to learn how to simplify them - she was G3+.  That gave us a few different areas to work on, and made it relatively easy to comment that she had improved/learnt how to.... etc.


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#5 Splog

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 07:19

It doesn't help that the guidelines say such things as "Take up a musical instrument and do a grade" as if that was achievable in three months. It is enough to focus on eg one small area of technique; getting one piece up to scratch; improving sight-reading etc.


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#6 jch48

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 10:54

I sometimes think I'm too soft, but I do remember putting my foot down with one teenager and saying it had to be more than 'turn up every week for a 30 minute lesson', with another it was much easier to write something positive and truthful.


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#7 flautistphilosoper

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 14:22

I have had quite enough of all these awards and whatnots that kids seem to do just to embellish their CVs rather than actually improve themselves as people. I had one enquiry last year who wanted a lesson "every two weeks" for her Duke of Edinburgh award, as she was already doing roller skating, indian dance, photography, scouts (or somesuch activity), etc. and "couldn't fit it in". And her goal was to "get grade 3 by the end of the year", having never played the instrument before.

 

I don't know how people who teach in schools put up with it all!


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#8 Piano Jan

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Posted 05 October 2015 - 19:33

I agree - there is far too much pressure to gain awards etc. for the sake of the CV. Also these things don't come cheap and when the schools tell pupils they 'need' D of E Gold to impress universities, it's very unfair on those of us who can't afford it.

 

Sadly, I don't think these D of E awards are being taken in the spirit they were intended. Whenever I've asked pupils' opinion or advice on what sort of thing I should write, they say: "Anything ... it doesn't really matter". I can't help wondering if anyone actually reads it properly.


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#9 adagiok5

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Posted 05 October 2015 - 23:09

I type a list of objectives at the start - PM me your e-mail if you want a for instance. :)


Would it please be possible for me to contact you as well for the same advice. I too have had problems filling out the paperwork on this. Thank you
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#10 agricola

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Posted 06 October 2015 - 07:10

I agree with pianojan -- I'm sure this box-ticking approach is not what the D of E had in mind when he started the scheme.  I tend to stick to the unembellished truth.  If all they have done is attend a weekly lesson for 6 months then that's what I say, otherwise I would be debasing the currency.

 

I have two or three young lady pupils who are currently "stressed out" because they have been "doing their personal statements".  What is going on ? 


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#11 RoseRodent

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 11:51

If I have DofE pupils, I ask them to come up with about 5 objectives which they think might be reasonably achievable. They must be of the SMART variety (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-specific, though I'm not sure that Attainable and Realistic are different, they're just there to make a nice acronym) so "get better at violin" is not going to cut it. An existing pupil coming up towards a grade exam might reasonably pick an exam as their goal if they're using this as their 6 month activity, but if they're doing the 3 month version and they're not right up against doing a grade anyway I'd ask them to prepare a certain part of the syllabus, e.g. to aim to have all their Grade  scales of an examination standard by 13th December. It's a great way of getting peope focussed on the parts of the exam that it's often harder to motivate them for, also, and the coming  exam prep is a breeze if you don't have to nag about scales! Someone starting from scratch and hoping to enter this for their DofE would be expected to pick (with me) a simple pair of pieces which they will prepare towards a given performance, prefarably in public but it need not be, and we will evaluate their progress towards that goal - what they put in, what the obstacles were, how they were overcome (or not!). An advancing pupil might pick a specific technique to improve upon or learn, e.g. vibrato. Basicaly, if they are not prepared to make some targets and keep a short diary each week against those targets, I'm not prepared to put myself out writing a report! The more they put into their target-setting and diary, the more I will have to write come Judgement Day. It's annoying that this section is not graded in any way, however, and there's no difference between "Janet turned up every week and slightly bothered to open her violin case occasionally" and "James chose an ambitious target and spent a great deal of time and effort practising towards this target, which he was well on the way to achieving by the end of the 3 month period."


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#12 maggiemay

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 17:25

Having done a search on D of E awards with reference to piano grades, I hit upon this thread from two years ago.

I have virtually the opposite situation to some of those described in this thread. One of my (quite long-term) pupils passed grade 3 last term, and promptly stopped lessons because of impending year 11 pressure. Marks were in before the end of term, but paperwork of course was not. I teach other members of the family, and commented to mum at the start of term that X was welcome to call in after the others' lessons one day to pick up her certificate and comments sheet. When mum added ' she'll need you to sign her D of E certificate to say she's done the exam, it was the first I'd heard of it.

Well, X arrives this week, and I congratulate her afresh and hand over the grade 3 paperwork. She is not in the slightest bit interested in the comments sheet which I prepare to read through briefly, but hands me a D of E booklet and shows me the page which apparently I need to fill in, which she has already headed up. Although I've had students taking part in D of E awards in the past, I've not had to be involved before, so this is a bit of a surprise. Clearly I've led a sheltered life ;-)

As I'm not willing to write something on the fly, I point out to her that I was just expecting to sign something, and she had better leave it with me as it's not going to be an instant job.

It would have been helpful, I think, to have been in the picture from the word go, and I can't help feeling a bit wrong-footed. The exam prep was a battle, needing hand-holding all the way, with a student who doesn't respond well to the exam situation. Although of course I set targets in my usual pre-exam way, they were not always met, and had we been unlucky with our 'week', I'm not sure she would have made it, as the work was not completed by the start of exams. the idea of a target diary (eg) would have been a great one.

Many thanks to those who posted suggestions on the kind of thing one might say. I am tempted to (gently) point out in my report that I was not properly involved in the process along the way, and it is that much more difficult to write an effective report. Would this be too unkind? What do other teachers think?
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#13 zizi

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 17:31

I, too, get to asked to write quite a few reports for DofE.  Yes, if the target is to achieve a grade, and this is done, it is less complicated.  I often add performance experiences as an objective - this doesn't have to be a big concert, it could be to friends, family etc - and the most of my non-exam objective students somehow achieve this. 


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#14 Latin pianist

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 17:37

Personally I wouldn't do that in the report but I would make sure the coordinator at the school knows of your feelings.
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#15 maggiemay

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 17:46

Personally I wouldn't do that in the report but I would make sure the coordinator at the school knows of your feelings.


Co-ordinator?? This is a private pupil: I have no contact with the school.
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