Class Piano

TA Resources

Audition Information for TAs:  at auditions, incoming students will be tested in 3 areas:  technical skills, fundamentals skills (harmonization, sight-reading and chord progressions), and 2 repertoire selections.

At auditions we will provide brief 4-measure phrases for them to harmonize and sight-read, with the difficulty based on level. Information and examples for PCL 102-104 are shown in the Auditions Information link.



Guidelines for Struggling Students


  • Be sure to state the attendance policy clearly both in your syllabus and on the first day of class (no more than two unexcused absences for 101-104, one unexcused absence for 105-106), and be sure your students understand the difference between an excused and an unexcused absence and the reasons/documentation needed to make an absence excused.
  • After a student’s first and second unexcused absence, send them an e-mail that states the day they were absent and reminds them of the consequences of more than two unexcused absences (for instance, “I noticed that you were absent from PCL 103 on Monday, September 29. If your absence was due to illness or other emergency, please provide me with the necessary doctor’s note, etc, so that I can mark your absence as excused. Remember that more than two unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade, as stated in the syllabus”). These e-mails are helpful for your own records, to maintain the student’s awareness of their status in the class, and also as a detailed record of their actions in case they should fight your grading later in the semester. 
  • If a student has more than two excused absences, send them a similar e-mail but also remind them that their grade has now suffered by x points. 

Poor performance:

  • In your syllabus and at the beginning of the semester, clearly state your expectations of preparedness and improvement from your students. Include your policy on make-up exams and on late assignments, particularly if you plan to have your students e-mail videos to you rather than grading them in class. Also be sure your students know that they are welcome to contact you for extra help if they are struggling. 
  • If you notice a student consistently struggling, send them an e-mail expressing your concern and offering assistance. These e-mails can be general if performance is poor over all or can offer specific ideas for improvement if their trouble is limited to one area. You can also talk to your students in person, of course, but e-mails are a good way of recording that you reached out and offered help to your student, in case they fight your grade at the end of the semester or accuse you of unfair evaluation. 
  • Sometimes pairing students with complimentary strengths and weaknesses for in-class activities can be helpful. A student who is stronger in one area can offer tips to a student who struggles in that area. Be sensitive with this, though, to be sure that no student feels put down.
  • If poor performance persists, you can e-mail your student and request to meet with them. While you cannot force them to meet with you, they will often agree; even if they don’t, such a request sometimes helps express that they need to put in some serious work. 
  • Be sure that any student who is struggling does indeed know that their grade is also struggling. It can be helpful to keep your students consistently appraised of their in-class/homework grade so that they know if they need to work differently. You could send them a grade update every other week, at the same time that you announce their Chapter Exam grades, on request, etc. 
  • Keep detailed records of the student’s work. Keep any e-mails to and from the student, maintain grades carefully, make thorough notes about their exams, etc. 
  • Some students genuinely struggle with the material; some are trying to get away with the least amount of work possible. Treat all with kindness, but also be smart. If a student says they e-mailed you something that you never received, request a screen shot of their Sent folder. If they are late with an assignment and you suspect it was not for a legitimate reason, you could inform the student that you need documented reasons for any other late assignments; if they are worried about an e-mail not going through in time, etc. they need to e-mail you earlier and request that you confirm receipt of the e-mail so that they have time to resend it if necessary.

In danger of failing from absences and/or poor performance: 

  • If a student is in danger of failing or has failed an exam, send them an e-mail with Mr. Caramia copied that expresses your concerns in detail. Also suggest steps they can take to improve. 
  • Mr. Caramia can advise you on how to proceed. You will likely need to alert Dean Hain. 
  • Remember that the dean sends an e-mail around midterms every semester requesting that you report any students in danger of failing to him. 
  • Keep very careful records of the student’s work. If you fail a student, you may need documentation (e-mails, carefully kept grades, notes from exams, etc) to back up your decision, as students often protest failing grades.