Testing 5

As described in Testing 1, selection of pupils is based on both aural and manual potential. It can happen that a pupil with a very high score in the listening test does not take as naturally to the basic demands of the instrument as naturally as others. In such a case, an instructor has to exercise professional judgement as to whether it is wise to encourage that child to take that particular instrument. They may very well be better suited to an altogether different type of instrument. Personally I feel that, as long as a listening test of some sort has taken place in the school (this is not always up to the instructor), and that I have seen the pupil take naturally to the elemental techniques of the instrument, then by accepting that pupil, I am predicting continued success for many years. There is only one condition – the third mystery ingredient – regular and purposeful home practice. Without this, the most talented people in the world achieve little.

Of all the procedures which take place in the instructor’s year, testing is the most administratively intensive – especially where a few primary schools are involved. In a secondary school, the PT Music organises the administration of testing (auditioning) and a timetable is handed to instructors. School guitars are on hand for applicants to use during trials.

In a primary school, the teachers of all the classes concerned need as much warning as possible of pupils being extracted for testing. Older pupils generously agree that applicants can use their guitars. Letters have to be written explaining the procedure and any expense entailed (instrument, books etc.) should the child be successful. Instruments have to be ordered (and suppliers occasionally chased up). Amended timetables, including details of new pupils have to be distributed. Timetabling has to take account of many factors:

  • Maths setting
  • Computing time
  • Primary visiting music specialist timetabling
  • PE/Art/Drama
  • Possible differences in playtimes between P5 – P7 (P4 – P7 in the case of string instruments).

At times, it can feel like trying to solve a Rubik Cube where the individual squares are scattered across five towns, all wandering around and occasionally changing their minds.

However, once finished, the system tends to run smoothly for the remainder of the session.