(Revised January 2020)
We’ve designed Peaslee’s Piano Certificate Program to ensure that all of our students are mastering a standard set of skills and materials, to celebrate students’ progress, and to measure the effectiveness of the instruction we provide. All youth students are required to participate in the certificate program. For adults, participation is optional.
The Certificate Program puts a strong emphasis on students learning to read printed music. This is not the only or the most valuable way to make music, but music reading is an important tool and is an area where all of our teachers can help students excel.
Students progress through seven certificate levels in the piano program - Level 1A, 1B, 1C, 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B. These range from beginner skills to early intermediate.
Each certificate level has several badges students can earn.
For the Rhythm Badge, students tap or play rhythm examples on sight, while counting aloud.
For the Note Reading Badge, students name keys and notes by their letter names. We’ll also ask students to play musical examples on sight.
For the Vocabulary Badge, students name musical symbols and give their meaning, and define musical terms. We’ll also ask students to demonstrate some of these terms.
For the Scale Badge, students play scales, cadences, and arpeggios in various keys, and give basic information about each key. Note that scales don’t begin until Level 1C.
For the Performance Badge, students prepare one or more pieces from a list of suggested repertoire to a “performance ready” level, often from memory. This is unrelated to a student’s recital performance, but they may use the same pieces for the certificate requirement and the recital.
For the Book Badge, students complete the Piano Adventures book corresponding to their certificate level.
When a student completes every badge in a certificate level, we’ll recognize them with a certificate at the end of the semester. Students can complete more than one level in a semester, and we’ll recognize them accordingly.
Students can complete badges in any order - but no further than their current book level. For example, a student in the Level 2A Piano Adventures book can complete the badges for certificates 1A, B, C, and 2A in any order, but must wait to complete badges from levels 2B and above.
A student can complete any badge at any lesson. They can ask their teacher to evaluate them, or the teacher may suggest it. Each badge and level has a badge exam that teachers will use to test students' knowledge, and each exam begins with a set of instructions that the teacher and student can review together before they start.
For Rhythm, Note Reading, Vocabulary, and Scale Badges, students’ answers must be 100% accurate, quick, and confident, without help from the teacher. Students must play the examples their teacher chooses without any errors. If students aren’t successful the first time, they can try again at another lesson.
Example: Kaycee tells Sr. Terry that she is ready to earn her Level 1A Rhythm Badge. Sr. Terry tests her using the Level 1A Rhythm Badge Exam. If Kaycee gets everything correct, she gets her 1a Rhythm Badge. If she does not, she tries again another week. When Kaycee has completed all of the badges of the 1A Certificate, she will be recognized with a certificate at the next recital.
For the Performance Badge, students and teachers look at the instructions in the flashcard deck or level overview sheets - which tell them how many pieces to prepare, as well as required keys and/or memorization - and choose appropriate pieces.
When the student has prepared one of those pieces to a “performance ready” level, the teacher and student will take a few minutes at the end of the lesson for the student to “perform” the piece in the Peaslee lobby for anyone who happens to be there. The performance doesn’t need to be perfect, but it should be excellent. If the performance falls short, the teacher will talk to the student about how to do better, and they can try again next week.
Students complete the Book Badge when they finish their current Piano Adventures Lesson Book, but teachers may suggest review or supplementary materials before moving on to the next book level.
Students shouldn’t be surprised or discouraged if they fail a few times in this process! The goal of the certificate program is to set a high standard and offer students unlimited opportunities to meet it, and we hope this encourages students to have a growth mindset.
Some students come to Peaslee with some prior musical experience, and some current Peaslee students are new to this certificate program. For those students, their teacher will decide their placement for the Repertoire and Book Badges based on their current skills.
For all other badges (Rhythm, Note Reading, Scale, Vocabulary), their teacher will test them using the badge exams and award them all of the badges they already know with 100% accuracy. Students then continue to learn the material for those badges they didn’t complete and earn them at future lessons.
Teachers will look at students’ individual strengths to determine their overall certificate level, but we expect that students will have mastered all of the material of their current level and all the prior levels before receiving a certificate.