Komitas Music Performing Centre

Achieving Excellence

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Pearls Of Wisdom

Australian Music Examination Board contacted me recently to extend an invitation to share my teaching philosophy. Firstly, I would like to thank AMEB for providing a platform and allowing me an opportunity to share what I have learned thus far in my teaching career. I have provided some scope for music teachers to extract what is deemed most beneficial in achieving the ‘elusive’ A grade for their students.

AMEB Syllabus

Since migrating from Rome Italy in 1991, I have been teaching piano on the lower north shore of Sydney. Prior to my arrival, I had a career performing and teaching classical music throughout Italy and Europe. My experience as a teacher in Sydney was a little difficult initially, as the Piano Syllabus and overall preparation for exams and competitions was very different to that in Europe. Once I began to familiarise myself with the AMEB Syllabus, I found that the AMEB institution is an asset to anyone seeking access to a high quality system of music learning. I must mention that I have also been preparing students for Trinity and ABRSM exams, but my main focus has been in AMEB preparations.

Throughout the past 30 years, I have been blessed to have been able to work with students that have achieved success following their respective AMEB AmusA and LmusA degrees. Many of my students aspired to continue their performance journey overseas graduating from Juilliard in Piano Performance, London Royal College and also Sydney Conservatory.

My Focus

In offering some advice, my main focus teaching piano is to facilitate a love of the sublime art of music; how to produce a beautiful sound in any style of music from pre-Baroque to modern day music. My expectation from students is to gain an appreciation of the beautiful sound in each piece that they play. A prerequisite is a solid technique. Attainment of the prerequisite is difficult to articulate in a written context, as the concept of piano technique preparation is quite complex. A simple quote would be futile. What I can say is my aim is to teach ‘good’ technical skill in order for students to be able to freely express the music score before them.

My philosophy is for students to be able to feel the beauty of a great composition, and for them to sing musical phrases that they play. The reasoning is that the voice is the most beautiful instrument that we have, and although many students are ‘not a fan’ of singing, to feel how any musical phrase sounds with singing that phrase, makes it easier for students to produce on the piano in a more expressive manner. We often forget that the piano is a percussive instrument, and it is easy to play it like a drum.

The second most important skill I try to teach is the listening skill which is extremely important as many students play in autopilot mode, and don’t listen to the sound that they are producing. I believe to achieve a good level of preparation for any exam, students need to understand that the amount of effort they expend practising, is not measured by how many hours they practise. It’s important to understand that the quality always beats quantity, and it’s the quality derived from their practising that is my main focus, and it’s what I strive to make understood.

Lesson Duration

The lessons duration for each student depends on what level they are learning. An 8th grade student for example, needs more lesson time as there are many aspects to cover for an exam. An AmusA or LmusA student, if they have a strong presentation in their past grading until Certificate level, then the lesson time is based on their capacity.


The marking measure that AMEB has adopted, I find is quite balanced. I think there is a vast difference in B mark and A and A+, especially A+ in which I see the X factor in a student. We all know when we hear an exceptional performance. The difference between B and A is in preparation detail, where a student conveys confidence in all areas of the syllabus (sight reading, aural test and general knowledge) and assurance in their presentation of technical works and performance.

Lastly, I think we the educators of this sublime art have a moral duty to teach students to appreciate and love the music that they play.


Edwin Alamshah