Every week we have Chair Test Tuesday. I feel like weekly chair tests are positive as it forces the kids to get lots of practice getting nervous in front of each other while simultaneously taking some of the stress away from the potential for a bad playing test… if they happen every week, redemption comes soon!
Periodically I’ll allow the kids to create their own rubric for these chair tests. I guide them as they identify the skills that particular line in the book or fundamental exercise can test, and then the kids get to choose how many points each is worth. In edu-speak we could say that we are empowering student learning and self-evaluation, etc… and while all of that is definitely true, sometimes it backfires(!) which is a lesson in and of itself.
By the end of February, most of our classes are finishing up the beginner book one. We use Essential Elements and then supplement like mad. Book 2 (ye new book two) by spring break might be the goal, but every year brings its own realistic time frame.
Right after Christmas we start working with tuners in all of our beginner classes, actually incorporating “tuner tests” that function like a chair test. The visual aid helps our kids to learn ear training at an accelerated rate, taking some of the mystery and guesswork that we all initially encountered out of the mix. For kids who don’t have naturally sensitive ears, it allows them to learn to manipulate pitch while we introduce concepts that make absolutely no sense to their baby ears.