Assessments: A Teacher’s Perspective

Kirsten Wuest

The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program centers on periodic assessments for students—one-on-one adjudicator-to-student performance evaluations that also serve as valuable teaching and learning opportunities. In each assessment, a certified professional adjudicator evaluates a student’s performance of repertoire, studies (etudes), and musicianship skills. In this entry, New Jersey piano and flute teacher Kristen Wuest shares how assessments have helped build her students’ focus and confidence.

Describe the adjudicator feedback. How does it help participating students?

The adjudicator feedback helps participating students because it is very constructive. The feedback is always worded in a way that makes the student want to improve yet at the same time tells them what they need to improve on.  

How does the adjudication experience impact students’ playing?

My students have become so confident and proud! They are able to play for people with ease.  They are well-rounded musicians in terms of being able to play technical studies (scales, arpeggios, triads, etc.) as well as a wide range of musical genres. Playing aside, they are also developing their aural skills through ear training.

What are the non-musical benefits to taking an assessment?

The confidence I see in my students is most important to me. I see my eight- and nine-year-old students who wholeheartedly LOVE playing for people. They have such poise and confidence at the piano or flute it amazes me. They exude this confidence in everything else they participate in. They now know what they are capable of and apply confidence to everything else they do.

The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program is a fairly rigorous program, and preparing for it takes prioritization and time management skills (aside from musical ability). Helping my students learn how to prepare for something like the program also helps them learn to prepare for exams or projects in school.

What advice would you give parents considering The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program?

I always tell parents that it is the best program they could enroll their children in, in addition to private lessons. It has a syllabus that is well built and designed. The ear training alone is such a valuable asset because the younger a student is when you start teaching them aural skills, the better prepared that student will be. The variety of music that the students are expected to know is invaluable as well. I also tell the parents that it is ALWAYS a positive experience as long as the teacher has prepared the student properly and the student is able to prepare accordingly.

What advice would you give teachers considering The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program?

Basically my first line to teachers is "Why not?" The syllabus is laid out in a very detailed way right down to recommended editions/publishers for the music. Other than preparing the student for the exam, which is obviously an integral part, all the prep work is done for you. I feel like it is my duty to introduce this program to all my students because I feel it is the strongest and most well-rounded program and every student should have the opportunity to participate.

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