Exams are a fantastic way to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in your learning . Depending on where you might want music to go on your life , this will be key to whether you can progress further .
When I was a child and learning the piano , I did not like exams . But now I’m older, and a teacher, I see the structure examinations gives to each lesson as well as the focus and sense of drive it gives to each student to progress and personally achieve. It also helps to quantify your level . Saying you’re ‘beginner/intermediate’ is very vague, whereas saying ‘I’m around grade 2/3’ is clearer. Examinations with the Associated Board (ABRSM) are widely accepted in private and public schools as a highly accredited extra curricular achievement .
Scales and arpeggios form almost a third of your grade. And as much as I disliked them as a child ,they actually have such a strong place in keeping your technique , particularly when you are older and are no longer having tuition .
Exams are not the be-all-and-end-all. One of our clients is the keyboard player for a very well known international pop star . He came to us because he couldn’t sight read and hadn’t learnt music formally so didn’t understand the theory . He’s a working musician in his own right, but he never took exams.
Some people/ children find it too stressful to have exams or fall to pieces in the exam room but are excellent musicians outside of it. If that is the case then I don’t think exams are for you.
Either way, you have to do what is right for you or your child. Hopefuly the above is food for thought!
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