Selecting A Piano Teacher
Music is a gift, and finding a suitable non dual teachers to aid the discovery and appreciation of this magical gift is no easy task. Whether the piano student is a beginner or already doing advanced studies, having a responsible, qualified piano teacher is very important. At the beginner level, a piano student’s musical and technical foundations are imprinted. At the intermediate level, a piano student’s musical and technical foundations are further developed and strengthened. At the advanced level, a piano student is guided towards developing into an independent musician and thinker/interpreter. Therefore, at all stages of a developing piano student, having a good piano teacher is of utmost importance. Some basic factors that constitute a good piano teacher are qualifications, personality, and teaching experience. These three basic factors will be explored below, in this article.
Common Qualifications of Piano Teachers in Singapore
First, I would like to address the issue of the different array of common musical qualifications for piano teachers in Singapore, which is usually taken into consideration when choosing a piano teacher. In Singapore, there are two main external musical examinations boards, where piano teachers may obtain their diploma qualifications beyond Grade 8: Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and Trinity Guildhall (Trinity). In the ABRSM syllabus, the three levels of diploma study commonly taken by piano teachers, in order of ascending qualification, are:
1. DipABRSM Performance
2. LRSM Performance
3. FRSM Performance
Similarly, in the Trinity syllabus, the three levels of diploma study commonly taken by piano teachers, in order of ascending qualification, are:
1. ATCL Performance, or ATCL Recital
2. LTCL Recital
3. FTCL Performance
Besides the performance category for each syllabus, there is also the teaching category, whereby the candidate focuses mainly on piano pedagogy. The expected standard of piano playing for each level of qualification is naturally higher in the performance category, as compared to the teaching category. In general, as a piano teacher, one must thoroughly understand the music or the material being taught first, before exploring the techniques of teaching. Therefore, some piano teachers choose to obtain additional teaching diplomas of the same level after obtaining the performance diplomas.
Aside from these ABRSM and Trinity diplomas, piano teachers may instead have degrees such as Bachelor of Music, and Master of Music, and Doctor of Music. A frequent question asked is: How do these degrees compare to the diplomas?
According to the examination boards, the DipABRSM Performance, ATCL Performance and ATCL Recital diplomas are approximately equivalent in standard to the “performance component of the first year in a full-time undergraduate course at a conservatoire or other higher education establishment.” The LRSM Performance and LTCL Recital are diplomas in which the “standard of performance is at a level comparable with the performance component on completion of a full-time undergraduate course at music conservatoire or other higher education establishment”, i.e. Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance. The FRSM Performance and FTCL Performance are diplomas in which the “standard of performance is equivalent to the performance component on completion of a full-time postgraduate course at a conservatoire or other higher education establishment”, i.e. Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance.