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ABRSM Practical exams - what are they like? watch

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    I started taking piano lessons at the end of Year 9, using the ABRSM grade books, but without taking any of the exams. I am now in Year 11, and my teacher has just registered me for my Grade 5 practical. I'm quite nervous - okay, I'm absolutely terrified - I have no experience of these exams, so I'm guessing that I'm likely to fail. Could anyone give me a vague idea what it's like, and what I should specifically watch out for?
    :woo:

    Thanks! ;D
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    (Original post by Symphony Of Sorrow)
    I started taking piano lessons at the end of Year 9, using the ABRSM grade books, but without taking any of the exams. I am now in Year 11, and my teacher has just registered me for my Grade 5 practical. I'm quite nervous - okay, I'm absolutely terrified - I have no experience of these exams, so I'm guessing that I'm likely to fail. Could anyone give me a vague idea what it's like, and what I should specifically watch out for?
    :woo:

    Thanks! ;D
    I always felt the same before my exams. Terrified. In fact, my fingers were shaking as I did my arpeggios on my last one.
    But the examiners always appear friendly. You go in, they're sitting at a table a small way away from the piano. They say "Good morning" or whatever, and then you sit down, and you get to choose whether you want to do scales etc. or pieces first. I usually did scales. So then they go through the various sections of the exam. They usually ask at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio, and about half will be staccato (I don't remember whether there are any staccato at Grade 5. Actually, my Grade 5 was with Trinity, but it's not that different). After each of your pieces, you might have to wait a bit for them to finish writing. Sight-reading, they just put a book in front of you and tell you which one to play, and then they sit at the piano and you stand behind it for the aural tests. After that, (unless I've forgotten something) they say "Ok, that's everything. You can go now" or something like that. You get results in about two weeks.
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    Aural tests too (:

    I'm going to be honest and tell you that all my examiners have been horrible. But I think that's just bad luck on my part because all my friends seem to get lovely ones.

    I think you'll be fine though, as long as you've practised. I play awfully in my grade five. Nerves totally got the better of me and I don't think I could have played much worse and I still passed. (:
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    Try your best to stay calm! I've done all 8 practical exams with ABRSM (although for flute) and they are not that bad.

    It can be slightly disconcerting watching them write as you play, but I guess for piano it's slightly less obvious. Remember if you make a mistake it's not the end of the world, just keep going with the piece - same with scales, if you mess up the start they normally let you have another go (I think I had 6 attempts at one once before the examiner said to stop... whoops...)

    You have to do 3 pieces, scales, aural exams and sight reading. You can obviously practice all of these (there's a sight reading book your teacher may have) and yeah... just do your best!

    Good luck! =)
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    I always feel nervous, like I'm going to throw up and I must look like such a freak I shake so much...
    and yeah I also played really badly in my grade 5 cos I was so nervous but I still passed!!! Just practice aural and scales a lot in case you mess up your pieces, though scales are usually my downfall!!!! :/
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    they will be polite and nice and sympathetic if the time calls for it but will give away no indication as to what they think of you. and then they will judge you fairly. good luck!
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    They are trained to deal with nervous candidates and will try their best to make you feel at home. I've done many, many ABRSM exams, and now enter my own pupils for them, and I've never come across an unpleasant examiner. They look for the positive things about your performance, not the negative. I'd say the main things to remember are; virtually nobody fails (you'll only fail if you're simply not prepared), KEEP ON GOING even if you make some slips (if you stop to correct things, you make a mountain out of a molehill), and don't panic! Even if you do mess up a scale, they'll just ask you to repeat it, so you get a second chance. If you only have a limited time for practice, I'd concentrate on the pieces as they are worth 30 marks each. Scales and sightreading are worth 21 marks each, and aural tests are out of 18. Don't panic about the sightreading; you do get to look through the music and try out any bits you want to, for a minute before you have to play it to the examiner. During this minute, you are not being tested, so I'd advise you find the hardest looking section and practice that, rather than waste precious time playing bits that look easy.

    I can also advise on aural tests - have you gone through any in your lessons?
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    Don't worry, I found them terrifying too - we're talking physical shaking here - and I still managed to pass all of mine. I never got above a pass, though, because my nerves would mean I made some silly mistakes.
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    Ask your teacher for a practice run-through. There's nothing in it that happens other than going through the elements of the exam, though, and I assume you know what you need to do (pieces, scales, aural etc.) already.
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    I had an awful examiner for my grade 8 singing, he was glaring out the window the entire time and it really put me off. My piano examiner was nice though I just practised so much I couldn't go wrong and was almost bored of the songs. Preparation is the key
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    Personally I've been terrified for most of mine, partly because my confidence in my playing is pretty awful, but being nervous seems to be the norm.. they try to calm you by telling you that some candidates have cried but I haven't done that yet.
    I have however failed my grade 5 twice, because I know it's the only one (with ABRSM) that I can't skip and that really gets me, although my teacher tells me I can play grade 7 standard. I can't remember why the first time, might have been my scales.. but the second time the piano was really loud and it put me off a lot :| though it probably shouldn't have.
    The examiners are nice though, don't worry about the aural tests, unless you're going for a singing exam they're nothing to worry about. Lots and lots of practice is what's needed.
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    Gosh, I've been playing Piano a year and am just starting to learn for grade 2. Hope I can get up a few grades quickly.
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    (Original post by rylit91)
    Gosh, I've been playing Piano a year and am just starting to learn for grade 2. Hope I can get up a few grades quickly.
    You're doing very well indeed, then. Do you play any other instruments?
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    (Original post by FormerlyFrisbeeFan)
    You're doing very well indeed, then. Do you play any other instruments?
    Other than the recorder in primary school no.

    I think I am capable of playing above a grade two standard, though; as arrogant as that sounds. I'm learning this piece atm, and am almost there - yet to get to grips with the part at 0.49! What grade would you say that is?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFLF-gh4C2M
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    I was so nervous, half way through my last piece I stopped playing and couldn't even find where I was. Horrible.
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    If you prepare well then the exam isn't as bad as it seems. It's nerve racking when you first go in and sit down, but the examiners are usually understanding and friendly. I did 8 exams with ABRSM (5 piano, 3 flute) and I only met one examiner who was a little distant, but they were still friendly. Try not to worry too much and practise until you feel comfortable with the pieces/scales etc. If you make a mistake in a piece try to continue with as little disruption as possible rather than stopping and going back over it .

    (Original post by rylit91)
    Other than the recorder in primary school no.

    I think I am capable of playing above a grade two standard, though; as arrogant as that sounds. I'm learning this piece atm, and am almost there - yet to get to grips with the part at 0.49! What grade would you say that is?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFLF-gh4C2M
    I've been playing the piano for 12 years (although I stopped doing exams about 4 years ago at grade 5) and I can play that piece with a little bit of practise, so I'd say you're doing pretty well if you're playing it at grade 2! (It's a lovely piece isn't it ) I think what makes it harder is that you need fairly big hands or strong fingers to play the bit at the start. The faster part is easy after you've practised it enough.
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    (Original post by Emmie3303)
    If you prepare well then the exam isn't as bad as it seems. It's nerve racking when you first go in and sit down, but the examiners are usually understanding and friendly. I did 8 exams with ABRSM (5 piano, 3 flute) and I only met one examiner who was a little distant, but they were still friendly. Try not to worry too much and practise until you feel comfortable with the pieces/scales etc. If you make a mistake in a piece try to continue with as little disruption as possible rather than stopping and going back over it .



    I've been playing the piano for 12 years (although I stopped doing exams about 4 years ago at grade 5) and I can play that piece with a little bit of practise, so I'd say you're doing pretty well if you're playing it at grade 2! (It's a lovely piece isn't it ) I think what makes it harder is that you need fairly big hands or strong fingers to play the bit at the start. The faster part is easy after you've practised it enough.
    You're right about the big hands. The fast part that kicks in at bar 13 is the part I'm having trouble with
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    (Original post by rylit91)
    You're right about the big hands. The fast part that kicks in at bar 13 is the part I'm having trouble with
    I know the bit you mean . Just go over and over it with separate hands until you can do it without having to think about it. Once you've taught your fingers the pattern it's much easier to do it quickly and hands together.
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    (Original post by rylit91)
    Other than the recorder in primary school no.

    I think I am capable of playing above a grade two standard, though; as arrogant as that sounds. I'm learning this piece atm, and am almost there - yet to get to grips with the part at 0.49! What grade would you say that is?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFLF-gh4C2M
    Just a point, I know you were only joking, but I hate it when people laugh about the recorder; hear the professional soloists play and you'll agree in the right hands it is one of the most beautiful and venerable instruments there is...yes I teach the recorder (and flute...)

    I'd say that piece is far above grade 2 standard. It's got to be grade 5 at least, probably higher.
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    (Original post by FormerlyFrisbeeFan)
    Just a point, I know you were only joking, but I hate it when people laugh about the recorder; hear the professional soloists play and you'll agree in the right hands it is one of the most beautiful and venerable instruments there is...yes I teach the recorder (and flute...)

    I'd say that piece is far above grade 2 standard. It's got to be grade 5 at least, probably higher.
    Well, I'm sorry if I caused any offence. I actually carried on with recorder and got to grade two, so I do rate it as an instrument; I just associate it with first 'easing' into music. I must admit I am ignorant and have never listened to professional recorder player.
 
 
 
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