Here we are, at last: the final term before the summer break!
For many, this is a time of examinations: GCSEs, A-Levels and, of course, music examinations! As we know, with examinations comes hard work and often stress.
I'm currently busy preparing my dedicated and hardworking students for their upcoming exams and wanted to share some advice from the professional examiners at RSL Awards.
This short video gives some excellent advice on performing under pressure and also shows us that it's okay to feel nervous before an exam. Not only that, the video also gives some fantastic advice about picking the piece back up and recovering following mistakes!
I’m currently taking on new students, so if your musical skills would benefit from a bit of fine-tuning, please call 07731816132 to arrange lessons!
Welcome back to a new school term, I hope you have had a fantastic break and have been practising hard. I’m really excited to be back!
This term will be a busy one for many students as they prepare for their Summer examinations. Rockschool’s new syllabus is proving very popular with guitarists at the moment, especially with the inclusion of what were titled ‘Hot Rock’ pieces in Rockschool’s previous syllabi. These ‘Hot Rock’ pieces are well-known pieces of contemporary music, arranged for examination! This ingenious idea has many of my grade 3 guitarists wanting to learn Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana!
It gets better: Brilliantly, students no longer need to buy a separate book to access these pieces - they’re included in the main examination book!
I’m keen to start working on some excellent music with all my students this year - let’s make 2019 a year of high achievements!
It's been a fantastic first half term with lots of students enjoying getting stuck into their new pieces and beginning to explore fresh new exam syllabi.
The half term is a chance for some students to rest and take a short break from school but it's also a great opportunity to enjoy music. I'm encouraging students to listen to pieces of music, bands or composers they've never encountered before, from the likes of Brazilian guitarist Guinga, to Rage Against the Machine and pieces by Beethoven and Debussy - ask me for your own personalised recommendations!
With the weather turning cooler we find ourselves staying indoors, so why not put down the Xbox or Playstation controller and grab the guitar or plant yourself at the piano for a while?
It's the time of year when all exam entries are made. Several of my music students have been preparing for their ABRSM piano examinations this term and they're working very hard indeed.
Some students can struggle with the pressure of a music exam which results in mistakes they wouldn't usually make. For all students currently working on their exams, try to remember these points from your regular music tuition sessions and advice for the day:
- Practise all elements of your exam, not just the pieces! You could ask a member of the household to ask you to perform various scales and arpeggios so you get used to performing in this way for your exam.
- Try imagining you're performing in front of an audience or for an examiner, even when you're just playing at home. Research shows that positive mental projection can aid performance, something which many professional athletes (not just musicians!) use when preparing for the big day.
- Play to friends and members of the household. This will not only help you to get used to playing in front of people but you will also receive some feedback from people you trust. It's good to get honest feedback as it will help you become a stronger musician! If you tell me the feedback, it might be something we can work on as part of your music tuition.
- Prepare all of your materials and instrument (where necessary) the night before your exam. Make sure you have all your books, pieces and pages organised and in a folder inside a bag. If you're sitting an exam on a stringed instrument, check your strings are clean/fresh and make sure you have several picks and your instrument tuner!
- Seeing as it's going to winter exam season, take some gloves and ask someone to prepare you a hot drink in a flask. Not only will this warm you from the inside but it will also help keep your hands warm while waiting. It will also give you something to do while waiting and help control the nerves! I would recommend decaffinated or caffeine-free drinks.
- Enjoy the day! Not everyone sits a music exam, so it is a special occasion. Try to take in as much about the experience as you can, for example: what are the waiting rooms like - are they warm or cold? How many people are there taking their exams? Are there other students with their instruments and do you recognise the instrument they play? What is the name of your examiner and did they talk to you about anything?
Good luck to all students preparing for their winter exams. There's still plenty of time to improve so keep working and practising hard.