“My child has recently taken the grade 5 ABRSM piano examinations! She plays really well!” This is a very common sentence that’s used by various parents. The question that is posed here: What are the benefits of taking the graded examinations in Singapore? What are the downsides of these examinations?
Jokes and fun aside
The word, “examination” is a word that bears a sense of severity in this case, allows the student to understand that effort has to be put in and daily practice is required if he/she wants to do well for the examination. Automatically, the student will keep a serious front and definitely put in effort when it comes to practicing. This enables the student to instill self discipline within himself/herself.
When the student is given exam pieces, there are certain aspects regarding technique they have to adhere to in relation to the exam pieces. These exam pieces are detailed and has its special techniques to look out for.
Rather than just playing through the piece with the right notes and rhythm, exam pieces requires the student to study the score in detail and practice specific techniques that may help them be better at the piano in the long run.
Grade 5? Wow! Grade 8? You are impressive!
This is the common norm. The higher your grade is, the “better” your skills.
Therefore, with that reputation, you are seen to be good at the piano and now able to teach the piano to others.
Understanding and experience
When a student goes and take the ABRSM graded examination, he/she is required to play in front of an audience, namely the examiner.
He/she is then exposed to the standards of a pianist. He/she is able to feel and understand the situation of a concert pianist.
Who knows? Young students might end up aspiring to become concert pianists in future?
The downside to these examinations held in Singapore?
When a student signs up for the examination, he/she ends up practicing a fixed set of scales and of course three pieces from the exam sets. Three pieces, three pieces for several months.
That’s all there is. Are you considered a pianist now? The answer is no. Lots of teachers pushes their students to take the examinations and drills them continuously on these pieces but what they did not do is to expand their student’s repertoire.
Exposure is very important. Without an expanded repertoire, there is a lot to music that is unbeknownst to the student. You are not considered a pianist until you study different piano scores and have an extended range of techniques on the piano.
This is a common downside when it comes to taking the ABRSM graded examinations in Singapore.
Apart from their usual school workload or tuition workload, students have to go through months of gruelling intensive practice on the piano which may add on to their accumulated stress.
This is inevitable. Stress however, can be managed in many different ways. Here is where parents’ encouragement plays a huge part!
ABRSM graded piano examinations in Singapore are useful and it provides a driving force for students.
After all, having a goal to work towards to might push the student to advance further and more quickly. Of course, with both great techniques and musicality.
However, expanding repertoires/ trying out many different songs are important! Playing just the exam pieces for each grade is never enough.
If you have been exposed to more than a hundred pieces for a few years, you are on your way to becoming a great pianist! Go ahead and sign yourself or your child up with Singapore Pianist for graded examinations now!
Written by Berlin Goh