This was the final presentation of the day – a Panel Discussion on questions teachers had for AMEB examiners and other board representatives.
On Sight Reading:
- Students are allowed to put their hands on the keys/instrument, but no sound can be made.
- “Prepare the hands, but don’t make a sound”.
- It is better to “nut it out” in the students head.
- Candidates for AMEB examinations get “A reasonable length of time” to look through the sight reading.
- If it doesn’t affect the sound, any fingering is okay.
On Scale Speeds:
- Scales need to be the minimum requirement speed. At least.
On teachers entering the examination room:
- String teachers are welcome to come in and tune up the instruments up to the level stipulated in the Syllabus (Grade 5).
- Piano teachers can ask if they can come in and adjust the stool/bring in a footstool for littler students who need that. (When I asked Melinda at the beginning of the year, she mentioned that most of the examiners actually checked that littlies were the right distance and height, just as string examiners will check the music stand height. It has always been my personal experience that whilst I am tuning up my student, the examiner will happily check the height of the stand. They like to save some time this way too).
The Panel suggest that teachers check the AMEB website on helpful advice for candidates to know prior to sitting examinations. The teacher support section has some helpful hints from examiners.
On Balance of Repertoire:
- “It comes down to what suits the student”.
- Extra list pieces need to be of an appropriate level. Check that they aren’t of a lower grade standard.
- Should be well balanced to maintain interest.
- Students can have more extra list pieces than what is stated in the syllabus, provided they are of an appropriate level.
On students and examiners:
- A student shouldn’t have the same examiner twice in a row. When the student is entered into the system for their examination scheduling, red flags come up if the examiner they had in the previous exam is the same as the one they in the current sitting, and the student will be scheduled with a different examiner. This doesn’t mean that a teacher won’t get the same examiner if they have entered a different group of students.
My favourite quote from the Panel: “When the student walks in the door, they start with an A+. It’s what they do from thereon that affects that mark”.
There was a bit of a debate on whether ALL examiners mark the same way, and fairly. Some teachers brought up the fact that they had one lot of students being examined upstairs and one lot being examined downstairs and the students were of a similar level, yet the two examiners were marking so differently. The Panel said that perhaps there was just the worst of the bunch being examined by one particular examiner. Teachers argued that it has happened on more than one occasion, and that examiners needed to receive ongoing training as to how to mark fairly and appropriately so there is continuity throughout the Board. Apparently they do. Rita Crews said if we weren’t happy with the AMEB examinations/examiners, go somewhere else.
Teachers were also encouraged to call the AMEB if we had any queries, and they were happy to help us out. Keep in mind that they are still people, and if we have a problem, we can ask, not yell. Apparently they do get some slightly psychotic teachers calling yelling at them.