Embedding overall performance into music teaching.

Embedding overall performance into music teaching.

Picture of Rachel Kilby

BY: Rachel Kilby
06 April 2021

In the second of our blog posts focused on the new Overall Performance criteria for digital exams, Classical and Jazz examiners Jean McCreery and Rachel Kilby give some advice to teachers on how best to support students in preparing for this new area of assessment. Advice for students on how to prepare is provided in this separate post.

The new Overall Performance criteria in our Digital Grades adds an exciting new dimension to the assessment of a candidate’s performance and may even help to make the recording of a Digital Grade exam feel like more of an ‘event’ to embrace

Read on for some key pointers on how to ensure that you as the teacher have prepared effectively for this area of Digital Grades. We also have a useful video with tips from examiners on our YouTube channel. You can also read a further article from Trinity's Director of Music, Francesca Christmas which outlines the way in which the Overall Performance mark is assessed in Digital Grade music exams. We recommend you read this alongside the relevant Digital Grades syllabus.   

  • Get your pupils to practise the end of a piece and the start of the next one so that they develop the ability to maintain or move between styles confidentlyTell them to take their time; they will need to make sure that they have their music and/or backing tracks ready so that they can move smoothly and in a relaxed manner between pieces.
  • Practice runs of filming are useful. This will help your pupil get used to playing the whole programme whilst maintaining focus throughout. The new Overall Performance element of the Digital Grade exams places a focus on the performance as a whole, from the moment the video starts until the moment it finishes. The examiner is looking for commitment to the performance throughout, a bit like you might expect from a recital or concert.
  • Encourage students to overcome mistakes and keep going; no-one would expect a performance to be 100% perfect and the examiner is looking for a fluent performance, delivered with assurance.
  • Your student can record as many times as they want before they choose the final video to submit. Watch the recording with your student and discuss how they feel their performance went, what is good and which areas need development. This is a great way to develop reflective learning skills, as well as hopefully making the ‘final’ filming less daunting. You could use Trinity’s assessment criteria for Classical and Jazz or Rock & Pop as a tool during this discussion. After all, this is what the examiner will be using to mark the exam.
  • Think about how the performance will come across to the audience (the examiner); the student shouldn’t do anything that is going to detract from their hard work.

We know that for some learners, especially those who may be younger or with SEND, maintaining a whole performance may be an additional challenge. You as the teacher, or whoever is supporting with filming, can provide prompts for what to play next, including prompting the order of Technical Work. Just make sure that you are not providing any information or guidance beyond this. You can also apply for an adjustment specifically to give the candidate more time to resettle or move off camera ineeded; find out more about the adjustment we can make on our website.

We hope you enjoying preparing your students and supporting them with filming their performance, and we look forward to receiving your entries. 


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