Published on November 24th, 2020 | by AlexandreG.0
Top Tips to Help With Passing Your Piano Exam
So, you have got your piano exam coming up. Exams can be really scary and can feel like there is a lot of pressure on you.
However, if you have been put forward for the exam, then your tutor knows you are ready for it. Even knowing this, it can still feel very stressful.
Let’s have a look at some tips on how to prepare for your exam and get rid of those nerves.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve probably heard this many times, but practice really is the key to success. The more you learn your pieces before the exam, the more prepared you will feel, and you will be more likely to do well.
Learn your pieces so you can play them with your eyes closed, and you will fly through the exam. There is always the worry of making a mistake, but a couple of small mistakes will not make you fail.
Play through each of your pieces at least once a day in the build up to your exam. It can be helpful to continue playing even if you make mistakes, as your brain will learn with repetition where you are going wrong, and you will stop making those mistakes.
Another helpful tip is to know your chosen pieces inside out – and not just the melody. Learn about who wrote the piece, what inspired the composer, and the context in which the piece was composed. This may sound a bit silly, but the more you know about the piece, and the more you understand it can really help with you playing.
Do not Exhaust Yourself
We have just spoken about how important practice is – and it really is. However, do not over exhaust yourself.
If you are over tired, you will end up making mistakes that way, and tiredness can also play havoc with your emotions, which may already be heightened due to the stress.
On the day of your exam, run through the pieces you are going to play maybe once or twice, and then step away from the piano! You can always take your tutor or classmates at your school, such as LVL music academy for reassurance.
By now, you will know your set as well as you are ever going to, so run through it a couple of times to put your mind at ease, and then do something else relaxing, lie reading a book or watching your favorite TV show.
It is a good idea however, to run through your Viva Voce with someone else, a friend or your parents for example.
To many people, the Viva Voce is the most frightening part of the exam, so if you feel prepared in this area, the rest of your exam will flow beautifully!
Tell Yourself You Are Going to Do Well
Putting yourself into a positive frame of mind can do wonders for your confidence, so tell yourself that you are going to do well in your exam, picture yourself doing well.
You deserve to be at the exam, either your tutor has put you forward for your exam and so therefore they know you are ready, or you aced the previous exams and you qualified to take the one you’re currently sitting.
Whichever the reason, you deserve to be at the exam. You have put all the hard work in, and you are ready for this step. Your tutor and your past examiners believe in you, they know you can do it. Take that confidence from them and instill it within yourself – you can do it.
Obvious maybe, we all must breathe to live! But, when you are stressed or concentrating, it can become a habit to hold our breath which will make you feel dizzy, so remember to breathe.
If you are anxious, you may find yourself breathing too rapidly, which can make your hands shake, and even feel a bit nauseous.
Take deep, calming breaths to help calm your nerves. There is a technique called box breathing that is used by millions of people the world over, including the military. It helps to regulate your breathing and get rid of anxious feelings.
To do box breathing, imagine a square in your hard. Pick one side to start at, and inhale for a count of four, at the next side, hold it for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four on the next side, and on the final side, hold for a count of four. Then start the process again.
The number four is used here as an example, and is the most common count people use, although you can use five or six if that suits you better.
The point is to regulate your breathing and to help you focus.
Don’t Drink Too Much Coffee
People who are nervous tend to drink extra cups of coffee, or other caffeinated drinks, to make themselves feel energised and ready for the exam, however this is not a good idea.
If you regularly drink coffee or tea in the morning, then follow your normal routine. However, if you don’t regularly consume caffeine, then don’t start on the morning of your exam.
Extra caffeine can actually heighten feelings of anxiety, and can lead to your hands trembling which you definitely don’t want for a piano exam.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, so needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the exam will make you feel very uncomfortable, and will disrupt your concentration.
You deserve to be there. You have worked hard to get to this point, so now is the time to showcase your wonderful skills.
Despite what you may think, examiners actually want you to do well. They want you to pass. They are not monsters who are hoping for you to fail – they are on your side.
Of course, they have to be fair, but examiners either are, or were, teachers outside of their examiner life and teachers love to see their students doing well.
Practice, breathe, remind yourself you can do it, and you will fly through.