Here at Maestro’s Piano Lessons we advise all students of all ages, to take their piano exams when they feel ready for it. Sometimes however especially with adult learners, the student might be hesitant to take the exam or he/she may wonder what are the benefits of taking piano exams. In this blog we aim to explain why taking piano exams is an important part of your piano lessons and which piano exam board to choose.
The general purpose of piano exams is to give you a performance opportunity. We usually perform music a lot better when we are on our own. When performing in an exam or a concert however, you experience some loss in your ability due to the excitement and stress.
Students need to gradually learn how to deal with this excitement caused by having an audience. Naturally as you gain more performance experience, you will feel more relaxed and in control of your pianistic ability in performance situations. As a result gaining valuable performance experience by taking part in exams and local piano recitals is a significant part of our piano lessons in Birmingham.
Taking exams will step by step prepare you to play piano for your own pleasure and others. It boasts your confidence and helps you learn to perform when you are under pressure. Learning to perform when you are under pressure is directly associated with stress relief qualities of playing piano.
Most piano exam boards include musicianship skills, such as sight reading and aural tests in the exam, which will further help you become a far better musician comparing to someone who never took an exam. Also having deadline to prepare a piece will increase your motivation to practise and improve your skills.
Next step is to choose a piano exam board. Typically your piano teacher suggests the piano exam board that he/she thinks fit you. At Maestro’s Piano lessons before suggesting an exam board, we consider a range of elements and feedback that we had from the student during their lessons with us. Making a considerate decision when choosing an exam board will guarantee your success in the years to come.
In over a decade of teaching piano in Birmingham to all ages and level we have seen students who could potentially progress far more or far quicker but due to the wrong choice of exam board their musical progress was caped. It is therefore extremely important to have a thorough understanding of how different boards operate and what you will gain in each one.
There are four examination boards in the UK that are accredited by Ofqual to award graded music qualifications. Ofqual (Office of Qualification and Exam Regulations) works in collaboration with Department of Education for regulation and accreditation of GCSE and A Level in UK. It is important to choose from one of accredited exam boards so that your certificate holds academic value. The four exam boards accredited by Ofqual are as follows:
Has two piano exam centres in Birmingham, both are located in city centre.
Piano Exam content:
As mentioned above the subjects of the exams can change as the candidate gets to higher grades and will include improvisation and some musical knowledge. However theory of music is not prerequisite for taking any of the practical exams. The candidate does not need to show that he/she passed the theory exam as they go higher than grade 5. The musical knowledge test is formed of a combination of history of music, form in music and theory of music.
Has one piano exam centre in Birmingham.
Piano Exam content:
ABRSM stands for Associated Board of Royal School of Music. It has four exam centres in Birmingham. The centres are located in various parts of city which guarantees good access wherever you are based.
The piano exam contents are:
The advantage of this exam board is that the content of the exam remains the same from grade 1 till 8, which means the student can focus on each subject during 8 grades and make significant improvement on each. The sight reading and aural tests add to difficulty as the student reaches the higher grades but the difficulty level increases very gradually.
The most important factor to consider on choosing ABRSM exam board is the emphasise they put on knowing theory of music. As a rule for all instruments, when the student reaches grade 5 they need to show they have passed theory of music grade 5 exam, in order to be able to proceed. ABRSM publishes theory of music book from grade 1-8.
The theory exam is a separate exam in writing, taking place at one of their exam centres. If your Birmingham piano teacher is suggesting to start ABRSM piano exams make sure he/she can teach you theory of music up until grade 5 alongside piano practical exams. Over the years we have seen many students who hadn’t been taught theory of music from grade 1 and as a result they had to stop once they reached grade 5 for a considerable amount of time until they could pass their theory grade 5 test. This is one of the typical cases that shows the crucial role of a good piano teacher who is musically educated and considerate of your future requirements
Has 2 exam centres in Birmingham, both are located in city centre area.
Rockschool piano exams focuses on pop music genre. Piano exam contents are:
Due to the nature of the repertoire that Rockschool offer the student is encouraged to apply their own articulation in the piece which brings it closer to improvisation.
At Maestro’s Piano lessons we offer piano tuition for all four exam boards. We have excellent pass rate in over a decade of offering piano lessons to all ages in Birmingham.
Learning piano should start as a mere training with the aim learning how to play the instrument. Once the skills and confidence was gained and the student started to play more complex songs in a good standard, then taking the exams should be considered. Taking a piano exam can be a daunting experience. However it can certainly help boosting the student’s confidence if they take the exam on the right time. In contrary it can have negative effects if the student applies for the exam too soon or before being ready for it.
In music we say you have to get ready for a song %130. The reason is because you typically loss %30 of your ability in exam or performance situations. Therefore you need the extra confidence to compensate that. Taking an exam can be a fun experience in which you demonstrate your musical ability and enjoy the thrill and excitement of a successful performance.
Taking piano exam are the first and foremost step toward becoming confident in performing for others, enjoying their applause and compliments.