I have received an email inquiry from a parent initially asking if Simply Music students undertook exams and what concerts were available for students. I responded letting her know that students did not sit formal exams and that often teachers ran concerts for their students. She has however come back and asked “May I know how the Simply Music method gives students recognition if there’s no exam and certification? And what approach does the Simply Music method adopt to give their students recognition?”
I would love to know how best to respond to these questions.
Sometimes I ask a parent, “What are your goals for your student to learn piano?” and then listen. I would address her goals and concerns from there. You can talk about Simply Music goals and how we achieve them. If her goals are mostly about recognition and competition, then maybe she needs a different approach. I would encourage her to attend a Free Introductory Session.
Also, we do award certificates at the end of each Foundation level. Different teachers may have different ways of checking that students have learned the material in each Foundation level. What I have found is that trying to talk with a parent like this on the phone or by email is sometimes an exercise in working at cross-purposes. Encourage her to attend a free, no-obligation FIS. Then if she still doesn’t think SM is a fit for her, let her go with grace and good will. I’m assuming there are teachers in your area that would prepare students to sit for exams and certificates.
I have had this situation often because the Royal Conservatory is highly regarded in Toronto. Some parents are willing to come to an Intro Session, some are set on the need for exams. In my case, I took the exams and have the certificates and I switched with no regret. The goals are “self-affirming” experience and that is the gift that goes beyond the certificate. And often, that piece is missing in the exam process.
Another thought: students play with ease and confidence, and often volunteer to perform in school talent shows or churches without resistance. In my studio, I offer “medallions” to place on a certificate for each performance they do in the community. That gives students a sense of pride and accomplishment and they have the positive experience to remember (as opposed to a stressful exam). I provide a little trophy after they performed in 8 events.
I also acknowledge the 50th and 100th lessons, mentioning that it was in recognition of their perseverance and their amazing musicality.
I think the vast majority of teachers using whatever methods probably don’t offer concerts, exams, or certifications. And certainly many SM teachers do offer recitals, forms of recognition, and some may (with students far enough along in reading experience) undertake exams and such. I don’t think this is so much an issue of SM as a method vs. other methods, really.
I talk to parents at the FIS about how horrible the traditional method exam process was for me. Most are relieved to not have to do exams! At the end of each level, all my students are required to record their songs in my studio. That way I am pushing them to keep their songs alive. I explain to them that it is a more relaxed environment just playing for me than having to sit an exam with a stranger where you are not allowed to make a mistake. Once they have recorded all their songs I give them their certificate and take a photo for my Facebook page. So we do give certificates, just like the traditional methods.
As the kids pass each level, I give them a certificate. I hold a concert yearly and record them in Level 6.
I give each of my students a certificate as it’s available through SM. I also encourage my students to perform at the local Aged Care center every school holidays (except Christmas and New Year). I also encourage them to perform at the local Rotary Markets Busking as I feel it fosters their musicianship and is a whole lot more fun than the traditional method of exams.