How to Pass Your Music Exam

If you are going to take a music exam and are totally stressing out, don't worry! Believe it or not, here are some tips to help you, and hopefully, it all goes fine for you on the day.


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    Know the syllabus. You may be doing musical knowledge over scales, improvisation instead of aural. Know the order you are playing the pieces in, and rehearse with the accompanist beforehand. It is CRUCIAL you know exactly what the examiner is marking you on.
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    Practice, practice, practice! It can't get stressed enough; the better you know the pieces, the better you will do in the exam.
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    Know which part of the syllabus you need to work on most, and what you can improve, and then work on it. For example, as you get to the higher grades, playing fluently, and with expression is very important.
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    Do not be afraid of aural! One used to hate aural, until they realised, hey, it's not worth many marks, and doesn't (really) matter if it goes horribly wrong. It's a way to pick up extra marks! Know all the questions the examiner will ask, and the possible answers. Listen to as many styles of music as you can and practise looking for style, dynamics, time signature etc. on those.
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    On the day of your exam: The most important thing is to be calm, relax, and try not to think about it. It will always make you nervous, but relaxing can help you play your best.
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    Turn up early, and definitely warm up and run through pieces and scales beforehand. When it's time to go in, smile and say hello to the examiner. Don't be put off by him/her; they may look intimidating, but they are not allowed to be too horrible!
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    Introduce yourself and your music calmly to the examiner waiting until he asks
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    Stay calm and composed do not show your nerves. Look as calm as possible. Stand straight and hold your instrument carefully (or singing stand straight up) and wait to hear the examiner tell you to play/sing
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    Check your sightreading piece you normally have enough time to play it through once
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    Practise with your accompaniment so they know your style of playing


  • You will have nerves on the day. Fact. But the examiner will take nerves into account so it shouldn't lower your mark by a lot. Try deep breathing and bringing water into the exam (especially if you are singing or playing an instrument with your mouth!).
  • Whoever entered you for the music exam did so because they are certain you will pass. Worrying about the exam is perfectly normal, but you should focus more on enjoying the pieces.


  • Things can go wrong in the exam. A stingy marker, going blank on the scales, nerves, being under-prepared... you name it. The important thing to remember is that this exam is not the be all and end all; and no matter what mark you get, the fact that you can play an instrument at whatever level is a fantastic achievement!

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Categories: Music Techniques