In mid-July, 2014, I had the privilege to participate in the Examiner Training Intensive Workshops offered at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario. The seminars and workshops provided during this 3 day course (aptly labeled “Examiner Boot-camp”) provided an amazing array of information, insight, some examiners-only secrets, and a lot of opportunity for discussion. During my experience, many themes and ideas came to mind that apply to all aspects of music teaching. Here are some thoughts to share on my experiences.
Camaraderie Amongst Professionals
It was a pleasure to be a part of a group of over 40 music professional that were chosen to participate in the examiner training seminars. Participants from across the country came in for the training. Socially, it was nice to meet fellow musicians and music educators; professionally, it was a nice way to focus on the skills that we all have residing inside each of us including: musicianship, decision making skills, evaluative skills, musical language, and musicality. Most importantly, the sessions encouraged us all to remember one further element: time management!
Details, Details, Details
Many of the seminars dealt with the nuts and bolts of examining such as: assessing repertoire, assessing sight reading, writing reports, assessing technical skill and ear training skills, learning about policies and procedures, proper codes of conduct, and how to manage time in an efficient way. In addition to this list of necessary items, words such as compassion, nurture, appreciation, and patience were frequently used.
Be Compassionate: Grace Under Pressure
There are many challenging aspects to working as an examiner. The most challenging element: being compassionate and caring to each candidate while also working in a somewhat stressful environment. Each student counts. Each student is a person with a name and a face. Each student, regardless of the direction that the examination is heading, matters.
While sitting through the intensive workshops, madly writing notes and reports, taking in piles of information, my thoughts wandered regularly to my personal experiences as an adjudicator at local music festivals.
In a post written this past spring, (https://mymusiccommunityblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/the-importance-of-local-music-festivals/) I reflected on the importance of music festivals from many perspectives. One element that I wrote about related to the rewards that come when adjudicating with a compassionate mind and spirit. There is a huge amount of personal patience that any successful music festival adjudicator must exhibit in order to be successful. At all times, exhibiting a “grace under pressure” attitude has worked exceedingly well for me. I believe that this attitude will help me to be successful as I work through the Royal Conservatory of Music Examiner Apprenticeship Program in the coming months.
Embrace a Positive Mission Statement
The mission statement of the Royal Conservatory of Music contains many valuable elements such as “to develop music as a lifelong love”; “to encourage the nurturing and growth of natural potential”; “to encourage all students to excel at their own art”. It is easy as teachers, parents, students, audience members, and citizens, to forget about some of the important fundamentals that are at the core of our beliefs and actions as a musical society. If we all embrace these areas of the mission statement as well as a consistent sense of compassion for all students, teachers, and accompanists, all the while offering positive feedback and encouragement, the process will be a positive one for all participants.