ABRSM’s Michael Elliott: The Pianodao Interview

An Interview with Michael Elliott, Chief Executive, ABRSM

I am hugely grateful to Michael Elliott, Chief Executive of ABRSM, for giving up his time to take part in this interview. At his suggestion, the questions were crowd-sourced prior to the interview.

As well as the many questions raised on the Pianodao site here, I received several via email and have included topics raised on the Piano Network UK forum.

So far as possible I will include reader questions word for word, but I have streamlined the recurring themes which cropped up.

And many of the questions asked were very probing – so get comfortable and prepare for an in-depth and revealing read! …

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ABRSM Syllabus 2017-18: The Review

Sheet Music Review

July 7th 2016 sees the publication of the brand new ABRSM Piano Syllabus, along with Exam Pieces books for Grades 1 – 8. Review copies arrived a week or so ago, and I’ve enjoyed looking through the books, listening to the optional CDs, and trying out many of the included pieces.

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ABRSM Response to Teachers’ Concerns

There has been a huge response to my previous post, in which I addressed the widespread concern expressed by teachers following a recent ABRSM survey. I concluded that article with the words,

“ABRSM will undoubtedly be listening carefully to all the feedback they receive, and it will certainly be interesting to see what form their Teacher Membership scheme eventually takes!”

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ABRSM Survey Causes Alarm

As a teacher I rely on ABRSM’s examinations and use their products and services on a daily basis. So it was with considerable and genuine concern that I read the online feedback from colleagues who had taken part in the latest ABRSM Teacher Survey, many expressing very serious misgivings about elements of ABRSM’s plan for a new “Teacher Membership” scheme.

I determined to talk to as many as possible – on and off the record! – and find out what on earth is going on…

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The Music Theory Revolution!

Sheet Music Review

ABRSM’s newest CEO Michael Elliott has reportedly said:

“Separating theory from practice can’t be a good thing.”

While this is a great soundbite for those promoting theory courses, the obvious irony here is that ABRSM have themselves – for generations – separated music theory from practice in their own examination syllabus and published materials.

Paul Harris’s new series ‘Improve your Theory!’, written for students preparing for ABRSM Theory Grades 1-5, aims to change this situation for the better.

Introducing the series, publishers Faber Music explain that:

“Firmly rooted in Paul Harris’s Simultaneous Learning approach, it will transform how music theory is taught and learnt, improving every aspect of musicianship along the way. Never before has theory been so fun or seemed so natural!”

The books have already been awarded “Best Print Resource 2016” at the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, but let’s see if they really live up to the hype…

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“Grade by Grade”

Sheet Music Review

This innovative new series of books from Boosey & Hawkes makes the bold claim to be “the complete resource for the grade ‘x’ pianist”. But does it live up to its aims?

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