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ABRSM Teacher's Conference 3rd November 2018

Last Saturday I took a trip to London to attend the annual ABRSM Teacher's conference.

It was a good day, a chance to meet up with colleagues that I have met before and to make new connections. It was also a great chance to connect with other members of The Curious Piano Teachers that were at the event.

The first keynote speech was by the BBC arts editor, Will Gompertz. His talk, based on his new book; Think Like An Artist, (one to add to my reading list!) was about the importance of art in education. Alluding to the notion that with the rise of the digital revolution and the rise of artificial intelligence, the only jobs left for humans will be in the creative industries. As science has yet to create a machine that has yet been able to think creatively for itself. Gompertz gave us a brief history of art. Showing us how there is nothing original, but artists are continually are building on what their predecessors have done before while redefining the rules. He also suggests that all schools should be Arts schools, that allow students to question and create something new from what they have been learning. Instead of learning something to pass an exam, we need to teach students to be creative and curious.

I also attended two seminars on the new piano exam syllabus (grades 1-5 ) and on perfecting performance. What I loved about these seminars that the ABRSM presenters stressed that music should not be about exams. Musicians lose their musical communication if all their focus is on exams. These seminars reinforced to me the importance of securing firm foundations in a students learning. Musicality and interpretation need to be taught from the beginning not added on at an advanced stage. So as they advance in their learning, they can take the skills and knowledge that they have acquired at a beginner stage and develop them as they reach the more advanced stages. The presenters added that you should spend up to two-thirds of your lessons, looking at musicality, colour and interpretation. If you are spending more time in your lessons focusing on technique and note reading, then the pieces your students are studying are too hard for them. Hopefully, this is something that I do with my students.

Paul Harris delivered the second keynote speech with the title of How Do We Know Are Pupils Are Actually Learning? This was an interesting talk on the processes that a student goes through to learn something. It reminded me of the importance of not assuming my student has understood everything that I have taught them.

The final session that I went to was on Performance Anxiety. This was a practical session, given lots of help and tips on how to deal with it. Performance anxiety is something that the majority of performers suffer from, including me. I will share some information on this topic at a later date.

Some of the performers during the drinks reception at the end

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