How to Help Your Child Do Well in a Music Exam
- Music exams consist of several different parts; these differ between exam boards but are usually pieces with piano accompaniment, a study without piano (unless it’s a piano exam!), scales, sight reading or a quick study test and aural tests. To do well in a music exam your child needs to practice all of these elements – not just the pieces.
- Find out what are the different parts of the exam that your child is taking and encourage them to practise all the different elements. You can find the syllabi for all graded music exams online, so you can keep track of everything they need to be working on.
- Communication with your child’s teacher is vital. If your child has private lessons speak to the teacher and find out what they think needs most work each week. If your child learns at school send a notebook along to lessons so the teacher can write down what needs work. Look through this with your child between lessons and encourage them to work on the things they can’t do!
- Remember that practising pieces is not the same thing as playing through them. Practising means going over the hard bits lots of times; playing through often means glossing over those tricky bits, to get from the beginning to the end in one go. Most people prefer playing through to practising, but candidates who do well in exams are those that have spent time practising!
- Make sure you know which pieces your child is learning – listen to them when they practise.
- Children often practise pieces far too fast, but fast practice is pointless. The key to playing anything quickly is to be able to play it slowly and under control first. Start slowly and build the speed up gradually – don’t increase the speed until you can play something 100% accurately.
- Make sure he/she knows which scales they need to learn and encourage them to practise these over and over again. Just being able to play pieces well is not enough. Encourage your child to make a chart where they can tick off the scales they practise each day. Don’t forget that many scales have to be played with different articulations (staccato, legato, slurred, tongued, etc.) so make sure your child practises these too. Good scales can mean the difference between passing and failing. Children who know they can play all their scales go into the exam room with oodles more confidence than those who don’t.
- Nerves are horrid but most people get them. The best thing to combat nerves is to know that you really can play all your pieces and scales very well – even the hardest bits. The effect of nerves can often be to make your child revert to how they played a couple of weeks before the exam. Last minute practice, therefore, is not a key to doing well in a music exam!
- Aural tests are probably the trickiest thing to practise without a teacher but there are websites where you can practise these so look these up or ask your child’s teacher for guidance.
- Find out who is going to accompany your childi n their exam (unless they're doing a piano exam) – ask your child’s teacher well in advance of the exam.
- Find out where the exam centre is and give yourself plenty of time to get there so there are no last minute panics.
This content was provided by one of our users, bcjones