December 19, 2015

Assessing Students

When Tomoko interviews a new potential young student, she looks for several things. Usually a parent accompanies  the child, and gives some family and musical background. Then Tomoko interviews the child along. She can tell if the student knows how to play, and if he has the capacity to play with dedication. She says, "You can tell who is a composer, and who is a performer." She adds, "You can tell taste. And talent is like taste."

Tomoko continues the diagnosis and assessment every lesson. It starts by choosing the right composition. Tomoko emphasizes classical pieces.  She asks parents, "Will you give your son real literature or pap?" Tomoko contends, "Even if the child does not understand then, he will appreciate it later."  She continues, "It is important to build a solid foundation."

Because Tomoko has such a deep and broad knowledge of piano music, she can customize each child's musical experience according to that student's emotional, intellectual and physical development as well as the child's musical experience. "I like to challenge them a bit so they will grow." She adds, "It is better for a student to work harder to earn a B than to get an easy A."

She can also diagnose when a student is having problems, and can prescribe a strategy to help the student overcome the musical obstacle. She advises persistent practice and patience with oneself. She encourages the student to "climb the mountain step by step."

Assessment also applies to recitals. Tomoko assesses which pieces might go together, and in what sequence. She also senses how ready the student is to perform, and tries to provide the guidance to optimize success.

On the other hand, Tomoko respects each student, and tells students that they have to decide how to act on the assessment. She also encourages her students to assess their own performance, and take responsbility for their own progress. "I am so proud of my students," Tomoko says. "They grow up to be hard-working productive young adults with strong values." She has again assessed well.

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