Exams and Competitions

I encourage my students to enter exams, competitions and auditions: it gives an independent assessment and encourages practice - after all, no-one would turn up deliberately unprepared for an exam or a festival. Exams and competitions are not for everyone, but I find that those who don’t play in public and don’t take exams, suffer from two side-effects:

they tend not to resolve difficulties in pieces (on which progress relies), and
they do not usually follow a balanced syllabus: I think their rationale goes something like this. "Scales and sight-reading aren't as satisfying as learning pieces; I don't see an immediate benefit, and since I'm not doing exams, I'll miss them out for the time being". The time-being of course stretches for ever.

The apprehension that naturally comes with testing is offset by the sense of achievement that comes with passing. Even the cloud of failure sometimes has a silver lining - failing is often the catalyst for addressing the difficult decision to stop lessons, change teachers, or to reflect on the student’s own preparation (or more likely the lack of it!).

If these philosophical arguments don't convince you, then take a look at this article from the Associated Board about how exam passes at higher grades earn UCAS points:-

ABRSM - using your UCAS points


Fergus Black coaches students for auditions for local schools, music theatre groups, choirs, as well as national music schools, stage schools, and group. His students have successfully auditioned for:–

National Youth Choirs of Great Britain,
Chetham’s Music School,
The Purcell School,
National Youth Music Theatre,
Stage schools, including LIPA, East 15, etc.

Among the local music organisations, he tutors candidates for

Stamford Endowed Schools Music Scholarships,
King’s School Peterborough Music Admission,
Peterborough Cathedral Choir audition

  • XXXXX got the letter offering a place in the National Youth Training Choir

    excited parents by phone
  • We were delighted by the news that XXX had received a music award, news tempered by the fact that she tells me you do not teach at SHS but only SJS and SS. Is that right? If so, we are all disappointed!

    excited parents by e-mail
  • We just wanted to thank you for your help and extra lessons you gave XXX in preparation for the Music Scholarship auditions.  He has been awarded a Music Award so needless to say he is a very happy chap  -  As are we!

    excited parents by e-mail
  • Hi sir,
    It's XXX - Glad your practice went well. I received my letter saying I got into the National Youth Choir yesterday!

    excited student by e-mail
  • Hi Fergus
    We have just heard that XXXXXX has been awarded the choristership! He (and we) are thrilled. Many thanks for your assistance in preparing him for the audition. Have a good christmas.

    excited parents by e-mail

© Fergus Black

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