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Dr. Scott Beard co-authors keyboard proficiency exam book

ISSUED: 13 December 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Music students who are preparing for the keyboard proficiency exam now have a comprehensive review book co-authored by Dr. Scott Beard, Shepherd University provost and professor of music, to help them out. Beard and Dr. Lucy Mauro, associate professor at West Virginia University, wrote “The Piano Proficiency Exam Review Book,” which is published by Oxford University Press.

“Every music major, regardless of whether a piano major or not, has to demonstrate a certain basic level of keyboard proficiency,” Beard said. “While there are lots of textbooks that address teaching students how to play the piano, there’s no comprehensive resource on the market that details the typical segments that are included in a keyboard efficiency exam and how to prepare for that.”

To augment the book, Beard created online videos that offer tutorials. He also composed several of the exercises featured in the book, including two original solo pieces and arrangements of score-reading examples.

“It was interesting creatively for me to develop these sight-reading exercises and repertoire,” Beard said. “It’s writing music that’s within a certain parameter or scope of the piano and purposely uses all of the building blocks that are covered in the book. I tried to make it sound contemporary and fun.”

Beard said the book includes musical selections that are more modern and inclusive.

“It has examples by women and African American composers, so it has a little more diversity and approaches music with some songs that are not just from a Western or Christian perspective, such as typical hymns or Christmas carols, which are some of the things that beginning keyboard students might study to demonstrate proficiency,” Beard said.

While the “The Piano Proficiency Exam Review Book” is geared primarily toward students preparing to take the keyboard proficiency exam, Beard said it would also be useful in a classroom setting, teaching groups, solo lessons, or to prospective college music students. The book includes some information on the anatomy of the piano and a musical glossary and covers everything from basic techniques, like how to sit at the piano, to the foundations of piano playing.

“We’ve given lots of examples of harmonization and the typical 40 songs that music therapy students would have to know, and we demonstrate how folks can prepare for rehearsals with vocal warm-up exercises and score reading, where there are multiple parts on one page and a pianist has to play more than one thing at a time,” Beard said.

“I think the thing that really sets this apart is that we have practice exams, a rubric for grading those exams, and a companion website where I have tutorials on the various aspects of the book,” Beard said. “We were really fortunate to shoot those here at Shepherd in the Frank Center W.H. Shipley Recital Hall.”

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