The longer I teach (over 11 years at the time of writing), the more anti-exams I have become. For many - teachers, students and parents - exams are the visible benchmarks of progress, not just in music but in education in general. Children and young people are constantly tested, almost from the moment they enter… Continue reading Exam-obsessed?
I am continually surprised at how infrequently stagecraft is taught as a specific skill to developing musicians, from children taking graded music exams to students at music college. I think this stems in part from a misplaced view that stagecraft is only for "professional" musicians. Yet the ability to comport oneself well in a performance… Continue reading Faking it: stagecraft for graded piano exams and performance diplomas
I was delighted to act as a consultant in the selection of piano pieces for the new London College of Music (LCM) piano syllabus and I was impressed with the breadth and variety of music under consideration. When I received copies of the new handbooks, I was pleased to see some of the pieces I… Continue reading LCM piano grade handbooks 2018-2020
despite the best efforts of a sympathetic and well-organised teacher, many students feel consumed with anxiety when approaching their music exams
This a question I believe we as teachers should all be asking our pupils. It came up in conversation between myself and my friend and teaching colleague Rebecca, and we agreed that in future all students should be asked to consider this question. Why? Because it is all too easy for teachers to become complacent… Continue reading Why do you want to take a piano exam?
She can certainly play the 2015-16 [Grade 8] syllabus pieces A-C brilliantly......Can she play anything else? I’ll get back to you on that. This is a quote from an article about graded music exams by journalist Rosie Millard, who, by her own admission, is "a pushy music parent" when it comes to her children's music… Continue reading Grade exams don’t make musicians
Now is the season of piano teachers up and down the country expectantly waiting for the sound of exam results dropping through the letterbox or into their email inbox. The summer season for graded music exams is the busiest and results are coming in thick and fast. It is cheering to see from colleagues' posts… Continue reading Celebrate every pass, merit and distinction
In July 2014 the new Trinity College of London (TCL) piano grade exam syllabus was released. I have enjoyed teaching the TCL syllabus and my students have enjoyed learning the pieces: some highlights of the previous syllabus include Fanfare for the Common Cold (Grade 2), Allegro Non Troppo (Grade 2), Song of Twilight (Grade 3)… Continue reading Trinity College of London new piano syllabus – an overview
Here is some advice to help you prepare for your piano exam, at whatever level. You should aim to be ready for your exam at least two weeks ahead of the exam date. By this time, your pieces will be thoroughly learnt and finessed, and your technical work (scales and arpeggios, technical exercises etc) should… Continue reading Be prepared! Getting ready for your piano exam
With exams looming this term, students may be feeling as if they have been living with their exam pieces for aeons. I remember this feeling well, the same pieces of music facing me at my lessons, week after week..... Nothing beats being well prepared for an exam: knowing your repertoire inside out, being entirely secure… Continue reading Keeping exam repertoire fresh