Exam time is stressful for a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be. Being relaxed and applying the proper mindset is key to succeeding in your instrumental exams. Many people achieve worse results than expected simply due to poor preparation or nerves on the day of the exam. Everybody wants their hard work to pay off, so here are some pointers to help you and make sure you get the best possible result in your exam.
This point almost goes without saying. Make sure that you know ALL of the required content. If you think you’re missing out on anything, double check with your teacher to make sure. Give yourself plenty of time before your exam to thoroughly check through all of the content to make sure that you’re confident with it.
Avoid Nitpicking Until Necessary
Many people get hung up on small parts of their preparation so much that they ignore the bigger picture. It is important to avoid working on the extremely fine details until the bigger picture has fallen into place. There’s little use in spending all your time and effort to perfect a single 2 bar section in your first piece if you haven’t even started your second piece. If you’re focusing too much on the smaller areas of your preparation, you may find yourself running out of time as the exam date draws closer. Focus on being able to play the piece at the correct tempo, all the way through. Then once that has been achieved, you can then go back and focus more heavily on the details such as dynamics and musicality of playing. You will receive a much better mark overall for 3 good pieces, as opposed to one excellent piece and 2 less-than-average pieces.
De-stress and Relax
Exams can be stressful. It’s common for people to be nervous and anxious before an exam. Nerves can kill a good performance, so do your best to relax as much as you can on the day of your exam. Spend the morning doing whatever it is that relaxes you. Watch your favourite TV show, go for a walk, play a game. Avoid cramming in exam preparation last minute unless absolutely necessary. Try to learn content so late is rarely helpful anyway, so it’s best to avoid it, and simply spend the day focusing on getting into a good headspace for your exam.