Piano Teachers' Forum of Grand Rapids 0

SAT Revisions

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We, the undersigned members of the Michigan Music Teachers Association, petition that the Student Achievement Test Revisions presented at the 2013 and 2014 State Conferences be reviewed and improved before resubmission at the 2015 State Conference in Grand Rapids. The main unsatisfactory elements of the current documents for discussion and revision/elimination are listed below.

1. General Concerns

-The Committee has not addressed the questions of teachers who attended the 2013 and 2014 State Conferences, nor have they responded to any written comments submitted by concerned members.

-The committee has not described the type of student that these tests are designed for. What is the philosophy/justification for changing from 10 to 12 levels?

-There has been no attempt to test these proposed changes on a group of students at each level to see if these tests are applicable to primary and secondary school students.

-No explanation has been given of how the twelve levels of SAT would correspond to grade in school in order for a student to be able to go on to semi-finals.

-Administrative consequences of the more lengthy testing requirements has not been addressed: scheduling, the amount of testing time needed to cover the additional requirements, especially in the aural and written (theory) parts of the tests.

-Performance would receive less importance in the final composite score and additional emphasis would be placed on technic, aural skills, theory, and music history. The amount of time needed to cover the additional requirements in a 30-45 minute lesson would be extremely difficult and places the emphasis on non-playing aspects of piano instruction. The ultimate goal of SAT has been to enhance piano playing, not to attempt to prepare entry-level college music majors.

2. Comparison Chart of Technic Requirements

-The requirements become too difficult too soon.

-The sequencing for scale choices is pedagogically inconsistent.

-The suggested dynamics are arbitrary, and articulations for scales are unnecessary. Many of these requirements are inconsistent with the methods most teachers use, and often include technical requirements that students in the earliest levels would not encounter in their first year(s) of study.

-The difficult technical requirements are not found in traditional piano literature at the levels in which they are introduced. (for example: scale requirements at levels 11 and 12).

-The Realization of Figured Bass is for college theory students, musicologists and Baroque specialists, and not for high school students.

3. The New Aural Awareness Requirements

-The “Rhythm Playbacks” and the “Melody Playbacks” are too difficult and too time consuming to teach by the majority of teachers entering students in SAT, especially as the levels progress.

-The “Rhythm Playbacks” and “Melody Playbacks” cannot be accomplished in the allotted time on Student Achievement Testing Day.

-The melodic dictation requirements of the higher levels are consistent with what is expected of many college-level freshman music majors.

4. Theory/Historical Questions

-There is no time to teach Music History in a 30 or 45 minute weekly lesson. History questions require detailed knowledge of context, style, and composer-related information to be meaningful and are introduced in college level piano literature and music history classes.

-Instrumental transpositions are for conducting class students enrolled in undergraduate collegiate-level work, not for high-school students.

(This is not an exhaustive list, but instead raises issues which have, to this point, not been addressed by the committee.)

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