Thursday, March 8, 2018

Workshop Q&A - repertoire levels

There are many vivid discussions after my Jan workshops. This one tops the list.

Q: What are the repertoire levels?  It was asked by many novice teachers.

A: I have addressed this question in my FEB workshop Comprehensive Curriculum Program in which repertoires levels are one of the determining factors to assign students to an appropriate level. It is such crucial knowledge to require for teachers! Without this understanding, students often suffer from learning a piece that is too difficult for them to master the technique or too easy that they get bored with it very soon.

The good news is that there are many outstanding resources such as CCP or adjudicated events repertoire guidelines and anthologies that can help solve these problems. To summarize:

In general, there are about 10 levels/grades of 4 stages at the pre-college classical piano studying:

  • Beginner (Preparatory - level 1); Elementary (level 2-3); Intermediate (level 4-7); Advanced (level 8-10)
  • Standardized curriculum exams such as RCM or ABRSM are graded based on these stages of development. However, there are discrepancies among various grading systems.  
  • Examples of famous piano masterworks correspond to the levels: Kabalevsky's op. 39 Clowns is at RCM and ABRSM level 3, Beethoven For Elise is at RCM level 7 (Intermediate), and Debussy Clair de Lune is at RCM level 10 (advanced).
  • When in doubt, it's best to use anthologies like RCM Celebration Perspective Series (prep-level 10), and Keith Snell's Piano Repertoires 

Here are two "teaching repertoire bibles" that can guide you to have a better understanding of the levels of repertoires.  

  • Pianists Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature by Jane Magrath - This is a must-have book that provides an invaluable resource of piano literature from Baroque through Contemporary periods.  The difficulty levels of this book are ranged from beginner to early advanced repertoires like easier Beethoven piano sonatas.
  • Guide to the Pianist's Repertoire, Fourth Edition by Maurice Hinson and Wesley Roberts - Comparing to Dr. Magrath's pianist's guide, this book is also a repertoire survey but meant for advanced and professional pianists. Like the pianist's guide, it includes all periods of piano compositions with brief descriptions and levels of difficulties.
Want more? visit my teaching resource page for more info.


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