I’m a fan! I can’t remember how long the old prep test book had been out, but if I never teach “Boating Lake” or “Jogalong” again I won’t mind a bit. Not to mention “Walking”, “Rocking” and “Hopping”.
The new prep test is a more realistic mid-step between the end of the tutor books that I mainly use, and the Grade 1 exam.
I’m also really enjoying the pieces in the new Piano Star books. I’m using all three of them.
Book 1 makes an ideal mini-bridge between the tutor book and the next level. Younger children may have become so used to the way the music is presented in their book, that having another book of pieces in quirky styles and a different font helps them become more confident, and consolidates note-reading.
With more confident pupils, I just tick off the ones in the list of pieces which I think they will be able to work out (with a little help here and there) for themselves. Tripping across the odd new note or rhythm here or there is a good initiative test for them.
I take a similar approach with book 2. It contains alternative pieces for the Prep Test which are amusing, descriptive, approachable and inviting. As the date of the prep test comes closer, we select one piece to “learn perfectly” while “messing around” with the others – we might play them on different notes, at different octaves, missing out accidentals or adding more – whatever seems good at the time.
Book 3 is a good mini-step between Prep Test and Grade 1.
As a general point, I think it is a great mistake to lurch straight into the next exam book the week after taking an exam. Ideally, I would like to have spent some time covering all the technical requirements (dealing with the struggles and issues along the way) on pieces that are not too challenging. That way I also get to introduce lots of different pieces, so that the students have plenty of opportunity for honing their note/sight-reading skills.