Music exams provide an excellent structure for progression and overall musical development.
They also are very significant for Personal Statements and CV's - they
give credance to pupils' self-discipline and self-motivation; qualities that count for a lot when applying for University or employment opportunities. Also, Grades 6-8 carry Ucas points - a well-deserved bonus!
However, it is important to balance exams with developing technique, musical knowledge and repertoire, and the enjoyment of playing beautiful music in a variety of settings - and this all has to fit in with the demands of school work and school exams.
Practice is, after all, extra homework! So it needs to be rewarding, enjoyable and economical on time.
To this end, I teach my pupils to follow structured
practice systems and encourage them to tell me of busy times at school. I also book examinations at times in the year that do not coincide with school exams.
Music Grade Exams
take place three times each year, and this system provides necessary and sensible options to fit around school exams, SATs, GCSE/A Levels and school events/activities. With all that goes into pupils' lives it is a priority to balance their enjoyment of music
with a healthy and realistic satisfaction of achievement, and schoolwork always has to take priority. The termly grade exams and option of examiner visits to my centre offer a very necessary way to ensure my pupils can balance and prioritise all their commitments
and demands placed on them. My pupils' wellbeing is always my priority.
Practice does not have to take a lot of time, but it does need to be effective; especially when preparing for music exams and
performances. All pupils have a preparation plan to pace them in the preparation, and are shown how to maintain their playing after moving on from school.