Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday 30th June - Music exams.....

There is a lot of debate as to whether testing and exams and all that kind of pressure is good or bad for children. I don't have a single, dogmatic point of view. Yes, exams are BAD becuase they put children under pressure. Yes, exams are GOOD becuase they teach children how to deal with pressure.

Yesterday I accompanied a host of young children taking music exams. It is fascinating work, and work it certainly is. I have been fortunate to have had several rehearsals with these children, so I had a rough idea of where the dodgy moments were likely to be, but once you are in the exam room, all bets are off, and you have to be ready for anything - everything.

There were two that stood out.

There was the the supremely confident young person (let's preserve anonimity here) who is (almost annoyingly) full of chat and riposte in "everyday" life and plays confidently and descisively in the practice room, and then visibly shrank in terms of apparent size, age, confidence an character. The young person played competently and accurately, but all the bounce and pzazz had been left behind in the corridor. For them, it was a sobering experience, but I'm sure they will have bounced back by now, and I am equally sure that they will receive their certificate in due course.

The other was a shy, diffident, almost silent young person, whose main communication in rehearsals had consisted of nods, quick smiles, anxious looks and occasionally a few whispered words. They shivered their way along the corridor, shifted from foot to foot while waiting to play. And then the magic began; they sparkeld, their eyes shone, they were hopping with excitement in between pieces, came back into the waiting room grinning from ear to ear, unable to speak from the joy of the experience.

Both children will have had an important experience. One has learned to "feel the fear, and do it anyway", and has discovered how to control their nerves and get through the ordeal. The other has also learned to "feel the fear and do it anyway", and discovered that they absolutely thrive on what appeared to be terrifying ordeal.

So, for many children, music exams are an important learning tool and preparation for "real life".

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