Completing a music grade can be stressful: here are some helpful tips for anyone about to take one.

As a beginner pianist, I encountered my first grade last December. Therefore, I know how stressful it can be to do a grade. Here is a complete list of tips I’d give to someone who is just about to take one.

  1. Practice little and often. It can seem a bit demanding to say to yourself that you’re going to practice for one hour a day, so instead break it up and practice little amounts at a time. Maybe settle down and do 15 minutes 4 times a day, or 10 minutes 6 times a day. Not only will this make you more inclined to practice but it will also help you break up your practice time with something you maybe enjoy doing more.
  2. Don’t be tempted to only practice the thing you’re best at. Trust me, although I did get full marks on my favourite piece, I dropped marks on the others because I spent my whole time practicing the other one. Try to spend an even time on each of your pieces, scales, broken chords and sight reading (of course Aural as well but that you may wish you practice with your teacher.
  3. Don’t listen to other people’s horror stories from their grade. As someone who spent the whole day before their grade searching up everything that could go wrong, I definitely wish I didn’t: all I spent the exam doing was thinking of the negatives.
  4. Don’t dwell on your exam after you’ve finished. After I finished my exam, I came out thinking I’d done everything wrong: I messed up on my sight- reading (I mistook the treble clef for the bass clef. Stupid, I know) the sun was in my eyes and I had to repeat the title of my song 3 times. It turns out, all of it was in my head, and I achieved 140/150 marks (a distinction).
  5. Remember the worst that can happen is you have to re try. Try to remember that, even if everything goes wrong, you can always revise the things that went wrong and take the exam again a few months later. It isn’t the end of the world if all else fails.
  6. Have fun with it! You’ve practiced for this long, just enjoy the experience, you’ve earned it.