As everyone already knows, the ABRSM piano practical exam consists of several portions. They are namely, the pieces, scales, sight reading and aural. In this article, I will share with you and break down the complete step by step guide on how to ace the upcoming 2019 ABRSM piano practical exams. Make sure to save this post. It will help you ace your exams and potentially get a distinction!
Piano pieces – you will be graded on your playing prowess of 3 prior selected piano pieces.
You are basically allowed to choose 1 song out of 3 per segment, and pick a total of 3 piano pieces. These take up the largest portion of your exam scores. As a result, you must score well here. Thankfully, it is also usually the easiest place to score for Singaporean students.
There is not much I have here to give you tips on. This is because most Singaporean students are great here. Also, most great piano teachers will already be able to help you out heavily here. To find a great piano teacher for free in Singapore, click here.
There is only one tip I have for you – ensure to practise the harder portions more often than the easier portions.
Scales – you will be required to play scales based on what the examiner wishes to examine you on.
Many Singaporean students feel that this the 2nd easiest portion of the examination. This is because memory and hard core practice will make you great at scales.
Since many Singaporean students score quite well here, I shall not over elaborate. However, for those who are weak at scales, here is a tip. During your practice session, never practice in order. Many students who score poorly during the scales portion of the ABRSM piano practical exam in Singapore practise the scales from their scales book exactly in order. However, the examiner usually likes to ask you in random order. When you practise in random order, just like how the examiner likely would test you on, you will become better prepared for your piano exam scales portion.
Sight reading – you are required to play a relatively short piano piece which you are only provided 30 seconds prior to playing it.
Many Singaporean students have a perfectionist attitude due to their upbringing in local Singapore schools. While that may be fantastic for the piano pieces portion above, it usually is detrimental for sight reading. In fact, being too much of a perfectionist will work against you for the sight reading portion.
Many local music students tend to get highly flustered when they play one single wrong key, and try to correct it at the expense of the tempo and rhythm of the entire sight reading piece! However, because the ABRSM marking scheme heavily rewards great rhythm and dynamics over the perfect hitting of every note for the higher piano exam grades, doing anything at the expense of rhythm and dynamics will cause your ABRSM piano practical exam scores to plummet.
Make sure that you always focus on the rhythm, dynamics and flow above others.
Aural – you are required to sing out loud whatever the examiner so wishes to play. The examiner will also ask you questions and answers about a particular piece he or she would have just played.
What I find is that many Singaporean students excel in the question and answer portion. However, many tend to falter when it comes to the singing part. In fact, I realized that is usually due to a simple lack of confidence of singing out loud. Add in complete strangers in an awkward environment and you will probably become too nervous.
Some of the low scores scored by Singaporean students in the aural segment may make you think that their singing is bad. However, that is not true. In fact, many Singaporean pianists are great at recognizing the right rhythm and tone. The thing is that they may not dare to truly sing out loud or feel too nervous and start having a seriously shaky voice.
A big tip I have for you here is to always drink a warm or hot glass of water right before the examination. The examination rooms in Singapore are usually freezing cold. By the time it reaches the aural segment, you will be freezing sometimes even with a jacket on. This can also cause your voice to quiver and you to feel unconfident. Therefore, keep yourself warm and drink a warm glass of water right before the ABRSM piano practical exam. It does wonders for your nerves!
An additional tip I have for you is to practise singing in awkward situations. For instance, you can purchase ABRSM aural CDs and practise singing in front of your family or friends and ask them to stare at you awkwardly while you are singing. If you do this often enough, you would not care who was there and how they looked at you. You simply do not care about anyone else other than singing out loud. This is a great way to overcome aural nerves for Singaporean piano students.
Make sure to use all of the above tips. Ensure that you save this article’s link somewhere and share it with your nervous friends who are having the ABRSM piano exams soon!