At some point you and your teacher may decide to take a music exam. Great! You will get an internationally recognized diploma, you will have something to work towards as well as something to aim for. This will motivate you and help you to progress faster. The examination systems are welcoming encouraging the candidates to enter these exams. We, the music teachers, love the exams as it is an evaluation of our work and students’ progress. There are however a few things to keep in mind when you attempt to sign up for an exam.
Allow enough time
Let’s say you had a math exam, you have studied for two weeks and you got 100 out of 100. That gives you confidence of how much work you can do in two weeks’ time. But, you forget something. You have been studying mathematics for a long time, you have completed many good or bad assignments, you have passed many exams and those amazing 100 out of 100 are not a result of “just” two weeks work of a couple of hours in the afternoon after school. Music is the same if you have just started playing guitar, give it a year or two to establish a good base before considering your first exam.
Music is not only playing the instrument.
Many people will think: “The most important thing is how I play, I signed up for guitar lessons not for theory or things like that”. That’s correct, but what you didn’t know at the time was that music is not about only playing the instrument. Playing the instrument is just a manifestation. The music examiners are judging your musical knowledge along with your technical abilities and skills. There are separate exams for music theory as well. All the aspects of the music subject including playing the instrument are interconnected in its integrity. Working on your music theory, aural training, sight reading, scales etc. will be rewarded with higher marks and greater satisfaction.
We are all different.
Most of us know someone who has finished grade 8 or done their first diploma by age of 15. Do not compare yourself with them. We are all different. It is a clever idea to have a real understanding of how much work you can do in a week, a month, two months, six months, a year…etc. Set the target accordingly and discuss this with your guitar teacher. Remember, you can’t do more than you can do.
As we said earlier, it takes time to master the guitar technique, theoretical concepts and all other aspects of the music art. It also requires patience and consistent work, if possible, daily. It is counterproductive to postpone guitar practice to the weekend or o more convenient time when your school exams or tests are over. You need to rather aim for small practice sessions as often as possible.