Piano exams or for instance any other exam may it be academics or sports; can be frightening for many of us. Facing an exam can be a challenging task however there are some tips and tricks with the aid of which you can make this fearsome process go smooth and easy. An exam needs you to focus too much on the subject however if you are not enjoying what you are learning to face the process; it will turn out to be a boring and tiring process for you. Thus for a piano exam it is important to choose practice pieces for various techniques that you will enjoy playing and are well-suited with your hands. The experience of learning and practicing should be something that would be pleasing rather than boring and dull.
Get Yourself Prepared for a Piano Exam:
Here are some tips and tricks that would melt away all the difficulties that are linked with a piano exam.
1. Expectations from a Piano Exam:
The first and most important aspect of going through the preparation process for a piano exam is to learn what you can expect at the exam. Usually a piano exam is linked with playing musical pieces, scales, arpeggios, theory knowledge, playing by ear, sight reading Many other techniques and skills may be tested during a piano exam. So it is important to take out time and check the syllabus or outline for an exam and then spend appropriate time on practicing those skills and revising your knowledge.
2. Regular One Hour Practice:
A piano exam may need you to cover a lot of material including theory and playing pieces. In order to do well at exam, it is important to regularly practice. Design a practice session that you would be following each day. This session should be divided according to your exam syllabus.
- 10 minutes to musical theory.
- 5 minutes to scales.
- 15 minutes to practicing 3 pieces from list (5 minutes to each) or as required.
- 10 minutes dedicated to playing by ear.
- 10 minutes to technical work.
- 10 minutes to sight reading.
This is only an example pattern and your practice session pattern would vary according to your level and syllabus of piano exam. A one-hour practice lessons daily would do well, however more amount may be needed according to skill or level of student. As you reach closer to the exam date, you may need to give more time for this practice and learning session.
3. Design Charts for Practicing and Checking Progress:
This is for your personal check and balance on how you are progressing towards your preparation goal for piano exam. Before beginning the preparation, it would be helpful if you design a practice chart and a progress chart.
Your practice chart will be a weekly chart that would focus on what you will be practicing through the following week. Just by giving it a quick look, you will be able to make out your goals for the week and will be more motivated towards achieving those goals.
Your progress chart would have certain weekly or daily milestones that you will be achieving. Have certain goals set for each week with dates mentioned. This would give you ease of realizing that if you have achieved the milestone for a week and if you are moving on right track with right rhythm of practicing.
4. Practicing Tips for Each Lesson:
- Scales: You would need to memorize scales. It is better to memorize them in order as well as randomly. During exam, you may be needed to play scales in order or in a mixed up format so you should be prepared in both ways. Carefully listen to your examiner and understand what is asked before performing.
- Sight Reading and Playing by Ear: Many students make this mistake of leaving practice of these two lessons for some last weeks before your exam. It is recommended to begin practicing earlier in order to get your hands over it.
- For sight reading you just need to keep a track of key signatures and beats in order to play well. Make sure that you play with both of your hands.
- For playing by ear you should know your notes really well. You should learn musical words well in order to do well at this part. You may be asked to give a combined features performance of a piece including saying notes, playing rhythm, singing piece etc. You should be prepared to give a mix of all.
5. Focus and understand what you are practicing:
Make sure that you are practicing everything well. To best understand what you are playing is to listen what you are playing. The way you will practice will be the way you will play at your exam. Each day focus on practicing correctly and improve on areas where you are making mistakes.
6. Practice with both hands:
Before actually appearing in a piano exam, it is better to practice with both hands plenty of times. With regular and more practicing, you will be able to memorize pieces in your head and then you will be all set to give the performance without any pressure or hesitation. When you have everything memorized and you get a hold of a piece or song in your mind, you will be able to add more dynamics and expressions to your performance during exam.
Some Additional Tips:
- It is important to stay relaxed and calm during a piano exam. If you are feeling nervous before an exam, take deep breaths and assure yourself that you are good and you can do well.
- Self-motivation and encouragement is the best aid when you are feeling under pressure before a performance.
- If you have option, begin with a technically difficult piece on which you have complete command and end with a personal favorite where you will be playing with all your heart adding expressions to the music.
- Remember that human error may occur and it is okay if you make a minor slip or mistake. Just make sure that you continue in a proper manner and a miss-hit may get ignored.
- With all the material learned well, you can just try well and rest lies with your examiner.
- Last hours before exam should be spent relaxing and do not cramp up your work with additional learning in last minutes. It would only give you more burden and would not work well for your piano exam.
Exam should be taken as a positive experience for a student and any failure in exam should not result in hating to play this beautiful instrument called piano. Failures and mistakes during exam should never stop you from learning piano music. Take this process as a positive experience in your life and you will be more motivated and encouraged to try your hands over more technicalities and would end up in improving areas where you lacked. Just be focused on preparing yourself well before exam and practice beforehand.