Music Exam Tips

Top Tips for Practice

  • Small sections practiced slowly and thoroughly are always more successful than longer passages given less care
  • Sometimes practice playing straight through, noticing the trouble spots and returning to them later
  • If you're in pain, sick or tired, don't practice!
  • What you can't play slowly you can't play fast
  • Perfect practice makes perfect!
  • Practice the whole 'performance' experience ¨C play your exam pieces to friends and family so you experience a few nerves and learn how to cope with them
  • Always work to a plan. Know what needs to be achieved in each practice time.
  • Know when to stop. Focused work for a short period is better than playing through for longer. Practice in small chunks
  • Have a variety of pieces to play, mixing the harder pieces with the easier ones. Enjoy what you play - a varied diet is essential!
  • Be aware of the pulse - it's dangerously easy to slow up for awkward corners
  • The only way to learn to sight read is to sight read
  • Listen to what you're playing. If you think it sound wrong, so will your examiner!
  • If you get stuck - stop - come back again later and try again. Going through the 'difficult bits' before practicing the whole piece can help. Focus on learning these difficult parts first.

Exam Advice

  • Use the time just before the exam to get your music and instrument ready. You can warm up silently by moving your fingers around or by blowing through your instruments. It's fine to ask the examiner if you can warm up by playing a scale or a few bars of a piece.
  • If you are an instrumentalist your examiner will ask you to tune to the piano at the start of the exam.
  • Feeling nervous before an exam is quite natural. Try smiling as you go into the exam room- this can give you extra confidence. And remember, your examiner is looking forward to hearing you play.
  • You can choose to do the exam in any order such as scales first, followed by pieces ¨C just let the examiner know.
  • Don't be surprised if there are sometimes two people in the exam room - only one of them will be examining you.
  • The examiner may stop you during a piece if he or she has heard enough to make a judgement. Remember, the examiner is on your side and wants you to do your very best.
  • Be ready to tell your examiner which pieces you are going to play. You can write them on a piece of paper if you think you
  • Make sure that you are comfortable before you begin. If you would like help adjusting the stool or if you want to stand, you can ask your examiner.
  • Don't worry about short pauses between your pieces- your examiner will be writing and will tell you when to start your next piece.