A charming tale of teaching
piano to Irish youth

Making The Grade presents an elegant tribute to piano teachers and their charges

By Byron Toben

April 10, 2023

Ciné Gael Montreal Irish Film Series continued its varied 2023 program on March 31 with a really “feel good” selection. The film Making the Grade noted that Ireland (population 5,088,712) had 30,000 youngsters studying piano per year. The grade referred to eight levels of accomplishment, following some thirty students and their teachers in different areas of the country.

The kids ranged from 3 to teenage, the teachers from parents to other musicians (one a nun), and a few vignettes interrupted by household pets (one dog apparently trying to pound the keys in imitation).

Making the Grade

To illustrate its widespread popularity, the film interspersed quick clips of the surrounding landscape, ranging from raising donkeys to herding cattle, to hiking in the lush green countryside.

The film inspired me to consider piano myself, but I fear, at my age, a banjo is more realistic.

A brief talk before the showing by Alexander Asbury, a PhD candidate at Concordia, highlighted how music complexity influences how much we enjoy music and enhances our neural motor skills in general.

Cine Gael’s next screening is of the film Arracht on April 14.

Images: frames from Making the Grade

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Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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