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School use of IMSLP

Posted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:28 am
by Singdownunder
Hi all,

A music teacher in New Zealand posted reference a recent NY Times article about IMSLP on the local music teachers online forum. He asked

"I use IMSLP a great deal, as do our students.
I’d love to hear from other schools about how (or if) they use IMSLP."

Can you broaden our perspective? I guess we'd like to hear other music teachers feelings about IMSLP.

Owen Sharpe
New Zealand

Re: School use of IMSLP

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:20 am
I'm primarily a private lesson teacher in violin and viola, and I think that I would refer more of my students to IMSLP if it had a larger selection of student repertoire. IMSLP is fantastic if you know what piece or composer you're looking for, but I would send students here more often if they could browse by some rating of "difficulty level," similarly to how one can browse by composer, era, instrumentation, etc... I would love to give them a bit more control over what specific literature they were playing, given that they were looking over a limited list that I knew contained appropriate challenges and that they would not fall in love with a piece well above their current abilities.

I understand that this is complicated by a variety of factors, particularly various grading systems (i.e., the British grade levels, Suzuki book level, various American state grading levels, etc.). Also, many student-level compositions and arrangements are still under copyright. However, I could see IMSLP becoming a valuable forum for teachers to post their own arrangements of PD works, or even establish a semi-formal international difficulty rating system. With their limited budgets and access to photocopiers, schools and other educational systems often brush up against that which is permissible under copyright law, yet many educators have made arrangements of PD works for their own use that could be of great (and legal) use to their peers and their peers' students. I would challenge teachers using IMSLP to contribute their own arrangements and even their original compositions (understanding that sometimes you also hope to make money, fair enough).

Even better, I would love to see IMSLP develop a difficulty rating system, or even to include some sort of overview of the specific challenges and musical elements involved (e.g., fourth position, double stops, standard performance tempo, etc.)

Re: School use of IMSLP

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:27 am
by KGill
This is not the first time difficulty ratings have been requested - see this thread for probably the longest (if you can call it long) discussion. There seemed to be a sort of mini-consensus (between two people, anyway) that the last approach you mentioned (i.e., naming specific technical challenges rather than providing a simple rating) would be the more feasible of the two. The thread also mentions a few difficulties with implementing this idea.
Perhaps we should revive the discussion? :)

Re: School use of IMSLP

Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:52 am
I read the other thread, thanks KGill. I agree that it would be tricky, and that many, many (many) pieces would sit un-evaluated for a while. But then, this is a wiki, and over time info would build up. I imagine that for most of this site's users (and for me, when I'm browsing for stuff to perform myself), this feature might even be annoying, taking up space only to inform you that the Prokofiev Sonata is difficult. Maybe there could be a show/hide box on a piece?

Also, the only pieces that really need analysis along these lines are those intended for or frequently learned by developing musicians. I don't see much point to an educator carefully analyzing the exact challenges of a Mahler Symphony; by the time students are at this level, both they and their teachers/directors should be able to anticipate specific problems and work on them. Perhaps the fact that many of these scores would sit without educational labeling/scrutiny could serve as a filter of sorts. Those pieces without a rating would be assumed to be fairly advanced or professional-level stuff.

I can't say I'd spend tons of time evaluating pieces (trying to also work on a dissertation, priorities, drat), but I'd chip in. I guess the questions are whether there are more than a very few of us out there who would like this and whether IMSLP anticipates an increasing or stagnant amount of literature at intermediate levels.

Re: School use of IMSLP

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:35 pm
by imslp
I actually meant to reply to this thread a few days ago but forgot.

Basically, there are two ways to do it: 1) via a rating system not unlike what we have for scan quality, or 2) using manual lists.

Considering the somewhat subjective nature of these rankings, and the fact that these rankings probably should be left to professional musicians rather than passers by, I would suggest using manual repertoire lists. In other words, anyone wanting to create such a list can simply start a new page with lists of works. That way we can have multiple opinions, and teachers can direct students to lists that they think are more accurate (or maybe that they created themselves).

The only drawback is if these lists become unwieldy in length. But I don't think we should worry about it yet; we can address this issue when and if it comes up.

Also, I actually believe having such difficulty lists on IMSLP is very valuable; I would strongly support anyone who is willing to start such a list. Ultimately I think it could be used on IMSLP on the same level as instrumental genre lists.

Re: School use of IMSLP

Posted: Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:50 pm
by steltz
Having just got back from a week-long Chamber Music camp for high school students, I can safely say that our use of IMSLP has increased dramatically over the last 3 years. Although a lot of the "list" is in my head, there are a lot of factors that influence our choice, and there are also times when I have to take IMSLP music and re-do it in Finale in order to (taking examples from this year's camp) remove tenor clef for young cellists and bassoonists, transpose parts so we have something for alto sax players to play, transpose baroque brass parts down a bit to give young brass players proper brass chamber music without the screech notes (purists probably shouldn't be reading this).

If manual lists are the way to go, they will need to be annotated. In my case, they would also have to include pieces where not all the movements are appropriate -- last night's concert had the slow movement of Schumann's Piano Quartet on it, but the students wouldn't have been able to handle the rest of the piece.

Just my 2 cents.