A successful exam will, to a large extent, depend on the care you have taken in preparation, but you must also consider the element of nervousness since you may have had little experience at playing in front of others.
Ask your teacher to give you one or two mock exams 2 to 3 weeks before the exam. This will give you an impression of the exam itself and still give you some time to work on any aspects which come up. Take every opportunity to play your pieces to family or friends, listening to any helpful advice. Look for performance opportunities in playing as a soloist or part of an ensemble, accompanying or duet playing. One of the best ways of getting used to performing is to play with others. These all give you experience of playing to others while taking the spotlight off your own performance. Also take every opportunity to go to concerts and watch others perform.
When the day of the examination gets near, play your pieces through in the clothes you will be wearing on the day, including the shoes, making sure you are comfortable, but taking care over your appearance in the same way that you will have taken care over every other part of the exam.
Work out in advance how to get to the exam centre so that you arrive at least 10 minutes before and make sure you know how to pronounce the titles and composers of your pieces, if asked for by the examiner. Arrange to practise on the piano on which you will be playing if at all possible, or at least make sure you have had experience of playing on different pianos, otherwise when it comes to performing on a strange instrument you may find it difficult to adjust, particularly if the piano you will be playing on is a grand piano and you have only ever played on an upright one where the music desk is a different height.
In the waiting room, check to make sure that your hands are warm and if you feel nervous, focus on deep breathing. When you enter the exam room smile and greet the examiner and adjust the stool if necessary so that it is the right height.
If you have the choice, then consider starting with your scales first in order to get used to the touch of the piano. Throughout the exam, stay calm, playing even the wrong notes beautifully and if you enjoy the whole experience the chances are that the examiner will too. When the result arrives, read through the mark form carefully, and if you are disappointed, concentrate on how you can use the comments to help your playing. However the chances are that if you have really taken this whole exam business seriously you will succeed. Good Luck!
The best value for money online course I have seen so far is the Rocket Piano. Read more about it here
Jeffrey Whitton is a piano teacher, an examiner, a composer of educational music, including An Alphabet of Piano Pieces, and author of the book The Art of Practising the Piano published by Stainer and Bell. He has also produced a Video called Piano Exams – A Guide to Preparation which is available from Jay Music firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 020 8673 1864. Get free piano lessons for beginners here: ukpianos.co.uk/free-online-piano-lessons
Please note: This article is copyright and protected. You may publish this article on your website providing you leave the article “as is” and retain the author’s biography box. All contents Copyright © 2008-2018. All rights reserved. Graham Howard, author of The Digital Piano Bible (a buyer’s guide) and The Howard Score (piano rating system).