The Oxford Reading Tree and 1984

An excellent article by a colleague of mine on the limitations of a solely-exam focused approach to piano teaching. “Imagine the equivalent in literary circles… a child working through the Oxford Reading Tree, then only being allowed to read 24 books in total before A-levels. That’s not 24 novels in English classes, but 24 books in total”

properpianofingers

Like many professional instrumental teachers, I have a large proportion of students (a significant majority, to be slightly more specific)  who transfer from other local teachers at various stages in their musical education.  Many of these (again, a sizeable majority) have one glaring omission in their background; a lack of repertoire.

But why is repertoire so important? And what is being taught instead? And crucially, what does a student miss out on when repertoire is neglected?

But perhaps the first question should be, what is repertoire?

The easiest answer is ‘pieces learned’.  Repertoire is the musical equivalent of a bookcase of read novels, a half-completed kindle, a stack of non-fiction magazines and newspaper articles. Repertoire is the Oxford Reading Tree and it is 1984, it is a dictionary and a thesaurus, a children’s encyclopaedia, the collected works of Roald Dahl, and A Brief History of Time.  If we learn to…

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