Now that the Christmas and New Year interruptions are done and dusted, those of us thinking of taking an exam in Session A need to get organised, as the entry deadlines are looming this month.
I am working towards taking Grade 6 oboe this session, so have selected my pieces and am working those hard and think they might even be playable in public in a couple of months. I have thought about accompanists and talked to my preferred one, who has agreed to do the job - if he is around on the date given. Scales are my bugbear at the moment, as I have not taken a practical exam previously, so am working directly to Grade 6 level, not adding on from Grade 5. They are improving, so should be there by the due dates. Aural is another area where I need to learn the ABRSM way of replying and codifying a lifetime of singing and listening to classical music.
A question for all you people who are experienced at this exam business - how much does difference does a good exam hall make? My oboe teacher lives around 30 miles from my home, as good teachers are hard to find and the journey is worthwhile. She thinks her local exam centre has a fantastic acoustic which makes any player sound wonderful, so is recommending taking the exam there. There is an exam centre only about five miles from where I and my accompanist live, although I know nothing about it. Is it worthwhile dragging my friend on a sixty mile round trip? The local one cannot be totally useless (I do not know exactly which local hall the ABRSM uses), or is it a case of using all the tricks of the trade to perform at my best in the exam?