Exams are a scary time for us all, no matter what the subject matter is. We can often feel worried and stressed in the build up to one. There are some things you can do to help you feel more prepared, and less worried about your upcoming piano exam. Let’s have a look at some things you can do to help.
Practice, A Lot!
Now, this may feel fairly obvious, because of course you’ll be practicing your piano set in the lead up to you exam.
However, you need to practice as often as you can. This will have two effects, it will make you feel much more prepared as you will know your chosen music pieces like the back of your hand, and it will also ensure you really do know your music inside out.
Even if you make mistakes in your practice, keep going and finish what you are playing. This may seem counterintuitive, but this can actually help you to learn where you are faltering, and the next go through you will be able to play it much more smoothly.
At least once a day, in the few weeks before your exam, play through your exam set, however, make sure you give yourself time to relax as well. If you do too much, you will end up feeling even more stressed.
Know Your Music
Of course, you will want to know your pieces of music extremely well. So well in fact, that you would be able to play them without the sheet music in front of you.
So, know how to play your music, but also know everything about your pieces of music.
This may sound a little bit odd, but the more you understand the music, the better you will be able to play it.
So, learn about the composer, look into why they wrote that particular score, and the context it was written in. Was there a particular event that inspired them to compose?
This may sound slightly odd, but it really does help. You can ask your tutor or your friends if they know anything about it, or how the music makes you feel. The staff from the guys over at: https://www.learnviolinlessons.net/piano-lessons/ can also be very helpful with this.
Make Time For Yourself
Now, although we have discussed how important it is to be prepared and how practicing is probably the most important thing you can do, it is also vital that you take time to rest.
If you overwork yourself, you can end up being over tired, stressed and over emotional, which will not help you feel prepared for your exam.
So, make sure you do your practice and your research, but then do something else, something completely different, that helps you relax.
This could be reading a book, going for a run or seeing some friends, whatever it is, make sure it is something that makes you happy, and is not music related. Give your brain some time to process what you have been learning.
Don’t Practice On The Day Of Your Exam
On the day of your exam, you will likely feel even more worried than previously.
By now, however, you will have gone over the music as much as you can, so have a quick run through the music once more, and then step away from the piano!
The one area that might be worth a couple of run throughs, is the viva voce. The spoken part of the piano exam is often the part that students feel more worried about than anything else, so run through it with a friend or family member, to make sure you know what you are going to say, and that it flows well.
As this viva voce is often the worst part for many, if you know you are prepared for it, the rest of the exam is usually much easier.
Both meditation and breathing exercises are very helpful in calming the nerves before a big event, like an exam.
Meditation takes some practice to be able to do properly, so it is a good idea to start this well in advance of your exam so you find it much easier to do on the day.
Breathing exercises, however, can be done by anyone at any time. When we are stressed, our heart rate and breathing rates go up, which can cause hyperventilation, and even if it doesn’t, these increased rates often make us feel worse.
There are different breathing techniques available such as box breathing, but just taking deep, slow breaths in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth can really help you to feel much less nervous.
Positive thinking also has a place in this situation. If you believe in yourself, and picture yourself passing, then you’ve already won half the battle.
You deserve to be at that exam. Either you’ve passed the previous grade exam, or your tutor has put you forward for the exam, but whichever route has made you arrive at this exam, you have worked hard, you deserve to be there, and you can do this!
Your tutor, friends and family believe in you, they know you can do this, borrow some of their belief and use it to help your own self confidence.
The day of your exam is not the day to take up drinking coffee! If you are a regular morning caffeine drinker, then have your normal drink.
However, if you don’t drink coffee, do not start on exam day. But, if you do drink caffeine, only have your normal amount, don’t drink extra to make you feel more ready.
Too much caffeine can speed up your heart rate, actually making you feel more nervous, and can make your hands tremble, which is the last thing you want for a piano exam!
And, remember, the examiners are not scary ogres, they actually do want you to pass. Yes, they have to be fair, but they don’t set out to fail people!