Something I’ve always wanted (but never had) was a simple way to keep track of exactly what my students are covering through their repertoire as they advance. Is their program balanced year to year and over time?
It’s easy to track progress while using a step-by-step piano method, as authors attempt to cover long and short-term goals to ensure there is a balanced educational offering.
But what happens when you make the jump out of an organized method and you begin to teach the student a la carte, inventing an individual program for each one with conservatory books and your library’s piano literature?
Post-method, how do you plan to keep track of all of the elements? How will you know if you’ve missed something? Do you have the information in one place of the key signatures your student has covered (in repertoire, not technical work)? Or time signatures? Or something as simple as the ratio of major keys covered versus minor keys?
I’m very excited to present a FREE printable with this blog post that will allow you to track your students’ progress beyond method programs. These sheets will allow you to record and keep track of many elements and outcomes.
There are three benefits to using the ‘Elements and Outcomes’ sheets:
1. Create balanced programs
The sheets will help you develop a balanced program for each student. This will make it easier for you to choose repertoire that covers a variety of keys, metres, styles, tempos and moods. Not just one year at a time, but over several years.
2. Learn each student’s musical taste
If your student helps choose their own repertoire, the sheets will help you notice and learn their preferences. Is there a trend in the music your student likes to learn? Does your student favour tender pieces in minor keys, or fast bouncy music or the blues style? All this will become evident when you can see at a glance what they’ve learned over several years.
3. Demonstrate outcomes to parents
The sheet will make it easier to show piano parents, ‘Here is what your child has learned and covered,’ during an interview or if they attend part of a lesson, parent-teacher interview style. It may seem obvious when the child performs in a recital what they have learned, but as an educator, you should also be prepared to explain what transferrable skills they have acquired. Beyond teaching just pieces, show what they have learned that will help them to function well in all musical contexts.
(…And students.) You may also use the sheet with the student to track their progress. It isn’t enough to simply know something, it is much more valuable to know what you know.
What’s on the sheets?
Keep track of the elements of music and outcomes for each selection of repertoire. There is more detail on the elementary sheet because it is very important at that level to highlight a balanced foundation of key and time signatures. The fields of musical elements become more general for the intermediate and advanced levels to leave more room to make notes on the outcomes.
On each sheet, record:
- Repertoire titles and composers.
- Simple Metre (Time Signatures 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 as well as 2/2, 3/2, etc.)
- Compound Metre (Time Signatures 3/8, 6/8 as well as 9/8, 12/8) *Time signatures are printed with lines for clarity only; time signatures have no lines in print music, as they aren’t fractions.
- Major and minor key signatures.
- Tempo: Tempo indication plus metronome mark
- Texture: Monophonic, Homophonic, Polyphonic (there is room to mark M, H and P)
- Style and stylistic periods: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionistic, 20th Century and Popular
- Skill Outcomes
- Knowledge Outcomes
- Affective Outcomes
Levels covered by the free printable
The sheet’s design will allow you to record and view each overall level on one page. Begin using the sheet that corresponds with your student’s level when they make the transition out of their method books.
- Elementary and Late Elementary (Levels 1 and 2)
- Early Intermediate to Intermediate (Levels 3 and 4)
- Intermediate to Late Intermediate (Levels 5 and 6)
- Early Advanced to Advanced (Levels 7 and up)
The free printable sheet includes all four overarching levels. Download it and print as many of each page as you need for the levels of the students in your studio.
Let’s go deeper
As a Fine-Tuned Piano Teacher (TM), I’d like to invite you to go beyond teaching piano pieces and teach a comprehensive music program through repertoire. A student who learns with this approach will be able to take the skills, knowledge and personal experience from their piano repertoire and be able to apply it to a rich understanding of music on any instrument or voice.
Elements of music. Ensure your student understands the elements of music that are covered by each piece. These are some of the easiest concepts to cover: the metre, key signature, range, and texture. The sheet doesn’t have a place for form or structure, but this could possibly be covered in the “knowledge outcome” section.
Skill outcomes. In a nutshell, this refers to the technical facility that is developed in a piece of music. Smooth playing of a chromatic scale, playing a long line with seamless thumb tucks, playing bouncy staccatos or a clean legato — on the sheet there is room for you to identify physical skills in each piece to help you teach and assess your students’ progress in this area.
Knowledge outcomes. Closely linked to skill outcomes, knowledge outcomes are also fairly easy to assess. The cognitive aspects of music are things like: the theory, the historical context, knowing the difference between polyphony and homophony. As you assign a piece, use the sheet to outline what knowledge you are hoping the student takes with them, and use it to focus your teaching moments on those points. Over time, instead of actively teaching, listen to what your student has to say on the topics to assess what they have learned.
Affective outcomes. Assessing the essence of the musical experience, the aesthetic side of music, is quite difficult. How do you measure a student’s appreciation of Bach or the level of personal connection they feel to a piece of music? Yet, the reason most people want to invest time into learning to play the piano is because of the personal draw of the music itself. Take time to discuss with your student what they love about the piece of music. Make note of it. What is their favourite moment in a piece? Why? How does the piece make them feel? What are the elements of music that give the music that sound? What is the cultural significance of the piece historically? How can the student use that knowledge to explore their own culture?
The challenge is for Fine-Tuned Piano Teachers to get beyond focusing on just technical skills and theoretical knowledge in repertoire and develop a level of comfort with students in exploring the deeper, more personal reasons we learn to play music. The must-have “Elements and Outcomes” repertoire sheet is designed to support a comprehensive teaching approach. It’s free, and ready for you to print!
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Video of the week
Kaleidoscope Colors (Late Elementary, Level 1), is all on the black keys and while very beautiful, is simple and can be learned partly by rote. Rebekah composed this piece at about age eight and kids might like learning a piece by a child composer. From The Color Collection Junior, 10 Expressive Piano Pieces to Color Your Days, piano solos that express all the colors and feelings we feel. Kaleidoscope Colors is also available as a single eSheet.