I frequently hear this in the instrumental teaching industry: We are using the ABRSM or Trinity ‘method’. I am always very bewildered by this claim.
Instrumental practical exams held by various exam boards, including the popular ABRSM and Trinity College, are meant to assess the students’ level of competence on the element of performance. They are not meant to be teaching methods.
In the quest of developing a ‘whole musician’, instrumental educators have to develop, adapt or adopt teaching pedagogies that they believe will successfully develop their students’ skills and knowledge in various aspects of music performance. These will include:
Sight reading: An essential skill to learn a new piece efficiently. A sense of key developed from playing scales and arpeggios.
Aural: A keen ear is required to discern good tone, pitch, sense of beat and sense of musical phrasing
Technique: Facility and dexterity of fingers.
Repertoire: Using the skills developed to learn a wide range of repertoire.
After which, a student can then decide to choose to enter a grade or level of practical exam that is suitable to assess the competence of the musical performance skills developed.
With the right attitude, I believe music exams can be a wonderful companion to a child’s holistic music learning journey.