The existing curriculum for piano lessons in West Malaysia is over-reliant on the syllabi of foreign examination boards resulting in a fragmentary curriculum which denies the student access to a wider range of musical experiences. The aim of the study was to identify and suggest solutions to problems by analysing the teaching approaches of piano teachers and to determine if there are elements which are lacking in the lessons. It also aimed to provide solutions by establishing a theoretical framework for effective piano teaching with optimal lesson plans. This study made use of mixed methods research design.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted and data collection was by self-structured questionnaires. In addition, interviews were conducted for the qualitative component of this study. Twenty-five piano teachers with between one to twenty years of teaching experience were randomly selected to participate in the survey. A further fifteen interviews were conducted with teachers who were selected from the participants of the survey by purposive sampling. Interpretative phenomenology analysis was used to analyse the interviews in an effort to gain a better understanding of the nature and quality of the piano teaching in West Malaysia.
The study finds that having piano examinations with regularity, usually on a yearly basis, has largely dominated the curriculum with examination requirements and has resulted in several elements being missing or absent in a typical lesson. Hence the situation is clearly not ideal as lessons are too examination oriented. Furthermore, students are generally not exposed to sufficient opportunities to display their skills and musical achievements. These findings suggest that Western classical piano music can be taught more effectively in West Malaysia if teachers re-think their approach to teaching in terms of planning for an optimal lesson. This would involve having both long-term and short–term goals in which a variety of strategies and important elements are incorporated seamlessly using the “simultaneous learning” approach advocated by Harris, Crozier and Ley.
Dissertation (MMus)--University of Pretoria, 2014.