Reading about The 30 Piece Challenge and The 40 Piece Challenge got me thinking. Thirty or forty pieces a year seemed too much for the Mumbai piano student to cope with. So I tested this out by starting my own sight-reading challenge and realised it was worth it.
This challenge is for the Mumbai and Navi Mumbai piano student, who has lots to study and coaching classes to attend in addition to school. It’s easy, workable and fun!
What you need to know, if you’re taking on the challenge :
- Learn 10 new easy pieces every 3 months
- Bring them to class done, and spend just 5 minutes of class time identifying weak spots and how to work on them
- Get them done to the playing standards set by your teacher
- Write them in “The Challenge Book”
The results will be uploaded to soundcloud and facebook and emailed to all students/parents.
Why easy pieces?
Most Mumbai students beyond late elementary level learn between 5 to 10 pieces a year and this reduces as they move on to intermediate and advanced levels. They play as long as they have an exam, concert or competition to work towards, but very few students continue playing the piano once they’ve stopped piano class.
Learning so little music every year usually means that new pieces are a struggle for many students. Students often struggle to learn even easy new pieces on their own, because they did not learn how to bring pieces up to standard on their own – because all this was done by their piano teacher.
So, this challenge focuses on easy pieces, with just a little bit of difficulty that addresses an idea or a technique that the student needs to work on.
The reason for variable playing standards for each student
Students with (naturally) very tight hands and shoulders, transfer students and young beginners who bang on the piano, intermediate students who’ve been playing without a teacher and have learned bad playing habits, all have different learning needs.
The goal is to help each student get a little better than they were before, and to set standards that take the student forward in steps small enough, that it’s easy. So that learning new pieces is relaxing and enjoyable.
So, the standards are graded gradually. For example :
- Playing gently is the goal for students who bang and play with bad hand shape – working on dynamics is minimal and will be focused on later.
- Students who are poor readers get very easy repertoire, until their reading skills get stronger
How piano friends are helping each other
One student took on the challenge and came to class with 3 pieces done in a week (mostly done with a few rough spots here and there.) And entered her pieces in the register, which is available for all the students to look at. And that was enough to get the others started.
All my students meet each other at group class once in a way, and play for each other. I also ask students to arrive early or stay late to overlap classes, so that they hear each other play, and over time, they become piano friends. So, if one starts playing well, the other gets quite thrilled and goes home and practises.
It was quite a struggle getting the first student to start and it’s early days yet. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it goes well 🙂