A Piano Curriculum for the future – by Sally Cathcart

sally-cathcartFor the last couple of years I have been working on developing a piano curriculum. Why – you might ask?

Well, we all need a map to guide our teaching, something that tells us where we are heading and gives the details of the stages by which we are going to get there. A CURRICULUM is just that and is an essential component of any effective teaching approach. It provides a strategy for knowing what pupils need to learn in order to make progress musically and technically.  In the UK we have never quite worked out what we need to teach, when and how – maybe it is time we should start!

Of course, what we do have is the instrumental exam system represented by ABRSM, Trinity Guildhall, London College of Music and others. What they provide us with is a SYLLABUS – a selection of pieces, technical exercises and supporting tests that represent a particular level of playing. Whilst instrumental exams don’t give us the map and all the details they do provide us with some stopping points on our journey. 

But, a teacher at the Oxford Piano Group once asked me, ‘how do I get pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 2?’ and this is a common query I believe.  It is this grey area, ‘between the grades’, that a curriculum will help to address. With a strategy for teaching firmly set out (WHAT I am going to teach) it is much easier to work out HOW to teach. I find that the more I plan, the more effective my teaching becomes. I look at my ‘map’ and from that work out the best, individual route for each pupil. 

It has been with all this in my mind that I started to put the Piano Curriculum together. I don’t pretend that it is perfect nor is it a complete document (I hope it never will be) but it does provide me with a starting point for planning my pupils’ journeys.

It isn’t all ready to be published yet but the time has come to share some of this with my fellow piano teachers!

So here is the Piano Curriculum for Grades 1 – 2When looking at this please keep in mind that a lot of skills and concepts will have already been covered in the Beginners and Pre-Grade 1 curriculum and that it is a guideline only not a fixed sequence of development!

I would love to hear from all of you who read this blog what you think about this. Is it helpful? Is it something that you will use? Would you like more?

Please email me directly with any comments

In my next blog I will show how ‘Messy Piano’ and ‘the Piano Curriculum’ can be used together to great effect.

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