Why Student Performances Are Great For Music Teachers

Live music is a winner all round


Why Student Performances Are Great For Piano Teachers


Music students enjoy a range of benefits when they have the opportunity to perform. But student performances are also great for piano teachers. Here’s why…

(To learn about why music students need performance opportunities, read my last post.)

See How Students Perform Under Pressure

Perhaps the biggest benefit I enjoy as a piano teacher when I watch my students play live is to see how they perform under pressure.

Does their posture suffer? Do they stumble over any difficult passages? Where do they make mistakes? How do they recover from their mistakes?

Knowing this gives me the information I need to tailor their piano lessons as I work with them on their performance skills. It also highlights areas that will need improvement before they play in their piano exam. This helps me to better prepare my students – both technically and psychologically – for sitting their next AMEB exam.

See Which Students Need More Psychological Preparation

Many of my students play perfectly in their lessons and at home. But when it comes to performance time, even if it’s a crowd of two people, they crumble.

By watching my students perform live, I can identify which students need help developing their confidence in performing. This allows me to tailor my approach to their lessons. This will usually involve words of encouragement, and teaching them simple techniques such as breathing and staying calm and relaxed under pressure. If I had never seen them perform live, I would never know that they needed this additional support.


There’s really nothing better than watching your students playing live in front of their parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends. It’s even more rewarding than a string of “A” grade AMEB exams.

As a teacher you know how much work both you and your students put in to learning a new piece of music. So it’s very rewarding to see them shine as they perform live.

[Tweet “It’s very rewarding to see them shine as they perform live. #piano #pianist”]


Video Portfolios

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know all about the importance of a video portfolio. You’ll also know that video portfolios should always be filmed live.

Student performances provide a great opportunity for a music teacher to work on their video portfolio. It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words, and I’m pretty sure a good video paints at least ten thousand words! The videos are also a wonderful lasting memento for students, who can be rightfully proud of their achievements.

[Tweet “A good #piano performance video paints at least ten thousand words! #youtube #vimeo”]


Live Music’s A Winner

As you can see, live music’s a winner all round – for students, parents and family, and teachers alike!

If you’re a piano teacher, do you value watching your students play live? If so, why?

For parents, how do you feel watching your son or daughter perform? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to give it a friendly “share”. You may also enjoy:

Why Music Students Need Performance Opportunities

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What’s the Difference? AMEB Pianoforte vs. AMEB Piano for Leisure

Everything you should know about the AMEB’s two main piano syllabuses


AMEB Classical Piano vs. AMEB Piano for Leisure


If you’re a piano student, or the parent of a student, then you’ll undoubtedly encounter the AMEB at some time during your piano career. Many piano teachers, myself included, choose to teach their students the AMEB piano syllabus.

Although there are other music examination boards, such as ABRSM and Trinity, I prefer the AMEB syllabus because the AMEB has formal links to Australian universities, they help write the HSC music syllabus, and they have a larger repertoire for students to choose from and be examined on.

Nowadays, the AMEB offers several piano examination options. Before you or your child take a piano exam, it’s important to educate yourself on the differences between each option, and the pros and cons of choosing each.

(Got questions or comments? Share them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.)

The AMEB Piano Courses

In addition to their traditional Pianoforte syllabus, the AMEB now has two other piano/keyboard courses: AMEB Piano for Leisure, and AMEB Contemporary Popular Music (Keyboard). Of these three courses, the original Pianoforte and the more recent Piano for Leisure are the most popular choice for piano students to study.

But what’s the difference between the two? We’ll compare by looking at the Grade 5 syllabus for each of them.

Grade 5 Pianoforte vs. Grade 5 Piano for Leisure

At a glance, the AMEB Pianoforte and Piano for Leisure syllabuses seem quite comparable. Both examine technical work (such as scales and arpeggios), piano pieces, and general music and piano knowledge. For Pianoforte, students are examined on both aural and sight-reading skills, while Piano for Leisure students are examined on only one of the two, a choice they are able to make. Importantly, the standard/difficulty of the pieces in both syllabuses is the same.

However, while the two courses may be almost identical on the surface, a closer look reveals that they are ultimately very different.

A Closer Look

Here’s a breakdown of how the grade 5 AMEB Pianoforte and Piano for Leisure courses are examined.

Pianoforte Piano for Leisure
Technical 37 scales (legato & staccato) 13 scales (legato only)
Pieces 4 list pieces, 2 extra pieces 3 pieces
Sight-reading Always examined Optional (can choose aural instead)
Aural Always examined Optional (can choose sight-reading instead)
General Knowledge Always examined Always examined

As you can see, a piano student’s workload is 50-70% less if they sit the Piano for Leisure exam rather than Pianoforte.

The Pros and Cons of Choosing the Pianoforte Syllabus

While each AMEB piano course has its own advantages, each has its own disadvantages, too.

AMEB Pianoforte students benefit from a more thorough examination, with more pieces and more scales. Pianoforte is the better choice if you wish to apply for a music scholarship at a high school, and if you’re interested in studying piano at university level, Pianoforte gives you a much more solid foundation. The syllabus also goes beyond Grade 8 to A.Mus and L.Mus.

The only real disadvantage of studying Pianoforte is that the set repertoire is classical. However, this is barely a disadvantage, as students can choose to be examined on non-classical repertoire from the Piano for Leisure syllabus as their extra list pieces.

The Pros and Cons of Taking Piano for Leisure

The greatest advantage to choosing the AMEB Piano for Leisure course over Pianoforte is that it involves less preparation and is therefore ideal for less serious music students – for instance, those who have many other extracurricular commitments and do not have the time to devote to the practice required when preparing for a Pianoforte exam. Piano for Leisure also includes a wider range of music genres, including film, popular, and jazz music.

The Le Piano Academy Approach

Many piano teachers only teach for exams. But that means that a student will only be learning three pieces a year. If you’re only going to learn three pieces a year, you really shouldn’t be playing the piano.

At Le Piano Academy, my number one priority is to ensure that my students receive a thorough musical education. Learning to play the piano isn’t all about taking exams – or at least, it shouldn’t be. I don’t force my students to take exams, and I leave the choice of which AMEB syllabus they take up to them.

Every year, my students and I plan out what they will learn at the beginning of the year. We allocate pieces not only for exams, but also for their recital. The recital is just as important (maybe more) as exams, as it gives students the chance to play in front of others, including their parents, grandparents, and family.

Thorough Piano Education

For students who are planning on taking exams, I like to ensure that they still study a varied and thorough curriculum.

For Pianoforte students, I always pick popular or jazz music pieces for them to learn from the Piano for Leisure syllabus as well, because no one wants to play only classical music all the time! If they wish, my students can use these pieces as extra lists.

When my students choose Piano for Leisure, I still make sure they do the Pianoforte scale syllabus, as more scales mean better technique, and better technique will mean that they play the Piano for Leisure pieces more easily. I also still teach them both aural and sight-reading skills, because while they may only be tested on one, both are very important.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it – AMEB Pianoforte vs. Piano for Leisure.

While the AMEB might argue that Piano for Leisure isn’t a “lesser alternative”, it’s quite clear that it involves a lot less work and preparation than Pianoforte. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. Instead, your choice of AMEB curriculum should be based on your personal circumstances, preferences, and musical goals.

Your Say

Have you taken AMEB exams? Which did you sit, and what did you like/dislike about it? Let me know in the comments below!

For any piano teachers reading this, which syllabus do you teach? Do you still teach your students aural and sight-reading skills, and extra scales, when you teach the Piano for Leisure course? Share your approach in the comments below.

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