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Exam stress
#2986462 06/01/20 05:18 AM
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Bachus Offline OP
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I see many people here still taking and preparing for exams.

But why would you go trough taxing and stressful exams if you entirely play for your own fun?

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Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986495 06/01/20 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Bachus
I see many people here still taking and preparing for exams.

But why would you go trough taxing and stressful exams if you entirely play for your own fun?

Good question, I started taking exams for a couple of reasons. I guess the main ones were to have a structure to work to, to set a goal that could be monitored, and since I was new to piano exams, to see what it entailed. Having succeeded in getting through a couple of exam grades I can only list positives while the only negatives seem somewhat trivial.

Personally I get anxious going into an exam (I can cope with that), but I don't find the work taxing or stressful. However before piano my idea of fun was trunning ultra-marathons, so I might not truly understand the concept of fun the way others do 😂


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Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986504 06/01/20 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Bachus
I see many people here still taking and preparing for exams.

But why would you go trough taxing and stressful exams if you entirely play for your own fun?
Because taking exams is fun?

I guess it depends on the person. I love exams and one of my most fun and memorable time was in college taking exams. My wife doesn't have this special interest in exams per se, but she has the very related special interest of not ever leaving school. She's a lawyer that is already plotting her second PhD which will be her 7th overall degree. Her various degree subjects are as distant as law, international relations, business, and art history. I don't think she is so much interested in exams as I am, but she definitely loves to be in an atmosphere of constant learning and research.

My brother on the other hand is fairly well educated - a corneal surgeon. Yet he has a dread of exams. For his medical specialty, he needs to recertify every 10 years by examination. He is so anxiety-wracked about exams that he warned my sister-in-law before the last exam that he might not pass and that the consequences to his career and their family's livelihood would be tragic. This despite that I've been told by others that his recertification board exams are pretty much "no brainers" to prevent older doctors from losing their ability to practice their specialty. (In the end, he passed and with high marks, despite his anxiety and fears.)

Personally, I can't wait to do my next piano exam! I'm skipping exams for this current level that I'm on and will do the exams for the next level. That's because I found myself over-practicing my exam pieces at the detriment of other pieces, and I thought this was not good. Instead, I'm planning to do an informal "exam" with my teacher when I'm ready with everything.


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Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986511 06/01/20 07:57 AM
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For me, the fun is in having goals and working towards them. So "fun" means different things to different people.

Currently I am enjoying not being graded for the summer. But I plan to start lessons again, online, in late June - we'll see how that goes...

Sam

Re: Exam stress
Sam S #2986528 06/01/20 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
For me, the fun is in having goals and working towards them. So "fun" means different things to different people.

Currently I am enjoying not being graded for the summer. But I plan to start lessons again, online, in late June - we'll see how that goes...

Sam

Thats probably what makes me different..

For me the journey needs to be fun..
Archieving ones goal is the reward..

Where it comes to music..
My wife commenting on my progressing..
Or the smile of friends when i play for them,,
Thats the reward of my musical journey..

On a deeper note..

I enjoy finishing things like all others..
But the stress of going trough exams is what i want to get away from

I use my piano playing as a stress relieve vessel from my daily stress at work
I found a meditational vallue in these excersises..
After playing for an hour i feel totally relaxed..
Its great for me and my familly life..

Doing these exams would make this hobby do exactly the opposite of what i archieve trough it.

Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986533 06/01/20 09:05 AM
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I don't do exams because I get too anxious and mess up on stupid stuff. I have failed my practical driving test twice before passing even though I already had been a driver for over 10 years in a different country. It's not that I'm a bad driver but I get really stressed out over any kind of practical test. Music tests are similar to practical driving tests in a sense because there is no second chance and no review your answer before submitting.

However, I do look into the syllabi to see what things are expected at each level and make sure I don't have any holes in my education. I have the entire set of RCM books. I use the ear training app and do the sight-reading exercises. I have played and recorded some of pieces from the books. I make sure I can surpass all the technical requirements. It gives me confidence that my playing abilities are solid and not a house of cards about to crumble.

Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986547 06/01/20 09:52 AM
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Why do I take exams? Here are my reasons:

I live in Toronto, home of the RCM. In my city, while growing up, doing RCM piano exams was almost like a right of passage for many, many kids. I just want to do what I should’ve done as a kid.

I’m a very goal- and accomplishment-oriented person. I also need a very structured way of learning. Exams give me that. One of my happiest moments are when I receive my marks and I did well. Downsides are that I do get stressed for an exam but I’m willing to put up with that kind of stress for the results. And if I do poorly I’ll be devastated, but so far I’ve been a very good exam taker in general. Thank goodness.

Without levels and exams, I would feel very uncomfortable at the uncertainty of where my skills are. I really do need an outside third party to tell me, via my marks, how I’m really doing. That gives me great comfort.

I’ve done enough degrees (but not 7!) that being in that learning and exam-taking environment is very comforting to me. Kind of like wearing a well-worn pair of jeans. It just feels right.

My biggest gripe about exams is the embarrassment of being in a sea of children while waiting in the waiting room for the exams, with parents staring at you, wondering where your child was. Now that is what scares me most.


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Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986578 06/01/20 10:52 AM
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I did the exam route to assure a well rounded musical education and to build a strong foundation. When I returned to piano as an adult, I became very frustrated because there was my structure to my learning. Whatever i wanted to play, the teacher would teach me. Exams offered a course of quantifiable goals that that gradually improved my skills and knowledge. It was worth the effort.

Re: Exam stress
Bachus #2986631 06/01/20 01:17 PM
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Many countries do not do exams for music routinely. In UK most teachers for children will teach graded exams and everyone seems to do these. In adults I have noted it is less common to do exams and it is only really if the adults who have requested to their teacher to do exams. I did grade 6 exams as a child and also a grade 5 theory exam. I suppose I was trained in the traditional system. I did the grade 7 as an adult but i felt really very silly in the exam as an adult and the exercise to me was pretty meaningless. It is probably more useful to find a group of piano players you can join where you can play. There is often lots of adults in meetup groups. After grade exams there are diploma level exams. It seems there is a little bit of a culture there to try and achieve a diploma certificates where you have you have to prepare a series of piano pieces. That said there are people who have got these and are not necessarily a chopin. I think I outgrew the system but I think it may be good to try and use the good parts of this. Being able to play scales, arpeggios, sight read and pieces well are all useful skills but they do not necessarily need to be formally examined in an artifical test. I am however using some of the resources to learn higher level music theory. I thought I forgotten music theory but it seems grade 5 music theory was actually quite simplistic so it was not that I forgot but I never learnt it in the first place! Make up your own mind regarding the exam system. It should be a personal choice and certainly it is not a necessity.

Last edited by Moo :); 06/01/20 01:23 PM.
Re: Exam stress
SwissMS #2986654 06/01/20 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by SwissMS
I did the exam route to assure a well rounded musical education and to build a strong foundation.
I agree that's an excellent reason to follow a recognized music syllabus and do the exams.

The more I read about other learners' experiences and skills (the ones who haven't followed any specific exam syllabus), the more I appreciate the fact that I was brought up on the graded exam system.

Students who've been brought up doing grade exams when learning a musical instrument take a lot of things for granted, and don't realize that there are others who haven't, and who might have big gaps in their learning.

I well remember some of the musical things I did as a student - sight-reading lots of stuff with like-minded friends, and sight-singing for fun, as well as singing in the choir (where we had to be able to sight-sing) and making music in various ways with friends. Once, after discovering the lovely trio (Soave sia il vento https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_0FHyF3Pyk ) from Così fan tutte, one of the girls in the choir (whose instrument was the cello) asked me if I would play the accompaniment, so that she and her friend could sing it, and oh, maybe I could also sing the bass part too? She'd managed to borrow the vocal score with piano accompaniment from the music library. We could meet up in one of the practice rooms after choir rehearsal to try it out.

How could I refuse? whistle wink


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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