I have long been an admirer of the brilliant piano music of William Lawson Gillock (1917-1993), so it is with huge pleasure and a sense of pride that I can now announce that, in conjunction with the Willis Music Company, I have selected and edited a new series of ‘graded’ collections showcasing a varied range of his best pieces.
Graded Gillock appears in three volumes, now available:
There’s little doubt in my mind that Gillock was one of the most significant educational piano composers of the twentieth century, as adept at turning out distinctively memorable and colourful piano pieces in an accessible style as he was at engaging the imaginations and enthusiasm of young learners, in doing so paving the way for today’s educational composers.
Gillock is perhaps best known here in the UK for his evocatively bluesy New Orleans Nightfall, stomping Swinging Beat and Latin-infused Carnival in Rio, all of which have been popular graded exam pieces in recent years. But what of his other music?
For this new series, I have used these favourites as a starting point, working with the composer’s long-term publisher Willis Music to explore and select Gillock’s most enjoyable and pedagogically useful music.
London College of Music Examinations (LCME hereafter) bill themselves as a progressive, friendly exam board offering a wide selection of graded music exams and professional diplomas. Founded as far back as 1887, the board arrived on the scene two years before ABRSM, and ten years after the first board, Trinity College Exams.
LCME pride themselves on continuing to lead the way in developing exam options that are relevant to today’s global world. Indeed, the performance grade options that other boards have introduced in the last year follow a blueprint LCME laid down years ago.
Uniquely, having become part of the University of West London, LCME are now the first and only exam board whose qualifications are awarded by a University. Conducting exams in more than 80 countries around the world, LCME retain their traditional qualities while being widely praised for fielding examiners known for being warm and approachable, ensuring candidates are put at ease and able to perform to their full potential.
With such particular strengths, it is perhaps odd that relatively few teachers are aware of their offer, but the recent arrival of the 2021-2024 Piano Syllabus and accompanying Handbooks offers a timely opportunity to take another, closer look…
Supporting Teachers • Promoting Learning Written by ANDREW EALES
With a single Tweet, the exam board ABRSM have in the last week provoked what they have themselves described as a “passionate debate”.
Defending their stance, ABRSM confirmed that these are the words of their Chief Examiner, John Holmes, quoted from a presentation at an event in London. In the context of his talk, Holmes will no doubt have made many other points, adding balance and nuance to his position.
That said, his view of a “virtuous circle of motivation” was surely not made up on the spot. We must accept this as his well-rehearsed position on the nature of and relationship between musical achievement, assessment and intrinsic motivation.
Discussion of these important concepts must be welcomed. As teachers it is our basic responsibility to question ideas, absorb good material, develop subject knowledge and promote better understanding. These issues are of course also of interest and importance to the parents of any child learning to sing or play a musical instrument.
Together, let’s begin to unpack some of the many positive ways that we can all celebrate our childrens’ and our own adult achievements.
Once in a while, a publication arrives for review which is based on a great concept and is itself essentially a very good product, but where the mismatch between the original intention and its actual delivery is a glaring one, as though at some point in the developmental process there was a communication breakdown.
Core Classics: Essential Repertoire for Piano, a set of seven progressively “graded” solo repertoire books published by ABRSM, is a striking example of this, and rather a missed opportunity. The series is certainly a beautifully presented and musically interesting one, but despite very considerable strengths, it falls short of its stated ambition.
So let’s find out exactly what the series has to offer…