music exam preparation

Piano Exam Tips - Speedlinking

Yes, it's that time again: time for teachers and students to really buckle down and refine all the required elements on their upcoming exam. Here are some websites with tips for preparing for your piano examination:

(c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada.


Music Exam Preparation Tips

Exam timetable  

With music students across the country taking exams next month, I thought it would be apropos to post some exam preparation tips. Some of these are "general exam" tips, but for the most part, they can be applied to music exams. After all, an exam is an exam, whether it is theoretical or practical.

A few other things I've been constantly reminding my students are:

  1. You can't cram technique: practice those scales, chords and arpeggios (and vocalises if you're a singer) and get everything faster than the listed speed. The required speed gets you a pass. If you want a higher mark, go faster (just make sure it's a tempo you can maintain, play cleanly and with good tone).
  2. Spend more time on the areas that need work. For many students, it's the technical requirements or the ear and sight reading tests. For others, it's memory or "that one dreaded piece".
  3. Look at the mark breakdown, spend more time on the areas that are worth more marks and also make sure that you're not giving any "easy marks" away. If you're in Conservatory Canada, that information is in the back of your piano book. If you're in RCM, check the Syllabus for your instrument at any music store (perhaps consider investing in one).
  4. Practice frequency is the key. Right now, the more "airtime" your pieces and technical elements get, the more opportunities you give for everything to sink into your mental and muscle memory.
  5. Perform often between now and exam day - it's the closest you can get to simulating exam performance conditions. See if your teacher can sign you up for a student recital hosted by one of the local teaching associations or schedule your own mini-recital and invite all your family and friends to hear you run through your exam repertoire.

(c)2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary. AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Piano Exam Tips

Many thanks to the authors who have put together these informative articles on preparing for a piano exam.

I especially like the second one, which gives you a timeline from three months prior your exam to afterwards:

Piano Exams - A Guide to Preparation
Tips for Preparing for your Piano Exam
Piano Exams

Happy reading!

(c) 2008 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

On Practicing, Performances and Piano Exams

The Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival is just around the corner. I used to accompany voice students at Kiwanis (just can’t swing it this year). I don’t have any students participating in Kiwanis this year, I do have several who have signed up for the Alberta Piano Teachers’ Association (APTA) Festival in May. Festivals provide musicians an opportunity to air out their exam pieces, hone their performance skills and get valuable feedback from esteemed clinicians. It’s a good goal to work towards (and some people can only get something done if there’s a deadline hanging over their heads). Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but how does one go about preparing for a festival (or exam for that matter)? As the old adage goes, “Practice, practice, practice.”

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out these funky links that break down HOW to prepare for a performance/exam/festival. There are some excellent articles on how to make the most of your practice session with limited time:

© 2006, Musespeak™, Calgary, AB, Canada. Updated 2014. All rights reserved.