Instrumental & Vocal - Evaluation – Piano

This an example of a self-evaluation by a learner. Note the use of the relevant terminology and structure of the evaluation. Self-evaluation is a part of the work that you must complete for Unit I / Unit 3.

The skill I have chosen is Instrumental Music and within this field my strengths lie in playing the piano and trumpet. In my skills analysis I decided that the skills I needed to develop were: ensure adequate expression when performing, attention to dynamics, tonality (specifically on the trumpet) and developing phrasing.

In my performance, I felt that I had managed to improve in the majority of the skills. The length of the pieces I performed was suitable and I feel that I chose pieces that were suitable for my standard of playing and sufficiently challenging at the same time. I feel that performing on two different instruments enabled me to demonstrate my ability to be versatile and create variety. On the whole, I felt that I had played correctly as regards rhythm and pitch and that I performed the two pieces at a suitable tempo. Both performances were fluent and I succeeded at times in varying the dynamics and colouring the pieces, paying attention to markings on the score.

I practised regularly for the performance and I feel that this was apparent. I paid particular attention to ensuring accuracy throughout the piece, having listened to professional performances of both pieces. My piano and trumpet tutor had played me parts that I was playing incorrectly as I learnt the piece. Listening to my tutor, I was able to focus my practice time on specific sections and bars in order to correct them. I was concerned at times about my tonality in my trumpet performance as I had a tendency to squeeze the sound which caused the pitch to rise. But after practising slowly and listening to the sound, I feel that I have improved in this skill. One way I overcame this was by recording myself playing and listening back in order to hear and be able to evaluate my performance.

When practising, I tended to rush my performance on the piano, but I felt on the day that I had managed to keep the tempo constant. I was pleased with this, as when I speed up I tend to make mistakes and lose control of the performance. I feel that I made too much use of the pedal when performing on the piano and that this affected the clarity of the performance and style of the piece to some extent.

There were a few things in my performance that I didn't feel were as successful as I would have wished. Watching the performance played back, I feel that I didn't look as if I was enjoying the performance and this was evident in my posture while playing. I was concentrating so much on accuracy and ensuring that I was in control, I failed to pay attention to how I looked when performing. Certainly this is one of the skills I need to develop. In future I would attempt to perform without a copy on the trumpet as this would make me much more confident in performance. I would also consider practising the trumpet in front of a mirror or getting a friend to film me practising.

Although I tried to pay attention to phrasing when practising the trumpet, I feel I would have benefitted from ensuring better control of my breathing. I feel I could spend more practice time developing my breathing technique in order to sustain notes at the end of phrases and to consider the possibility of carrying phrases over to the next. This was perhaps more evident towards the end of the piece as I started to tire and the tonality was not as good as I would have wanted.

My targets for the future are to focus on how I look when performing in order to give the audience the impression that I am enjoying performing and am much more confident. With more practice, I would like to be able to play without using a copy as this would free me to pay more attention to musical phrasing, playing with more emotion and focusing specifically on my breathing on the trumpet and my pedalling technique on the piano. I would also like to develop my ability to grade the dynamics more effectively, paying particular attention to crescendos and diminuendos.

I would also ensure that I achieve an obvious difference between forte and piano when performing on the Trumpet. I feel that this would imbue my performances with improved expression and sense of phrasing. I would very much like to continue performing on Trumpet and Piano, and I feel that I have benefitted enormously from the opportunity to evaluate what I need to develop in my instrumental performances.