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Session A 2014 Candidates

Session A exam entry

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#1 Barry Toner

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 16:36

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?


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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 16:52

I now try to insist that the teachers who use me as an accompanist enter their candidates at the centre which is 3 miles down the road from me. I've accompanied at most of the centres round here, including some at private houses in not very large rooms, but I've never felt it has affected the result of the candidates. You could try to ask a local teacher what the centre near you is like.


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#3 UnnaturalHarmonics

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 18:35

I did my old Advanced Certificate in a fairly dead room and felt it affected me hugely. Then again, perhaps the examiner made allowances for it, as I did ok. Personally, these days I'd 'trick of the trade' it and take the best room I could, as there's enough other things that could go wrong on the day.
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#4 Latin pianist

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 18:56

You might not necessarily get the centre you asked for anyway. I can think of 2 occasions when the exam took place at another place, once for the whole session, and the second time on one particular day.


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#5 Collyermum

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 11:03

I have used two of the local exam centres for consecutive cello exams, and by coincidence had the same examiner! I decided to change for the second exam because the first exam centre used a tiny exam room (that I could barely fit my cello or harp when I did that into) with correspondingly dead acoustics (tiny, carpet, curtains).  The second exam centre was about 15 miles away from the first but I picked up my teacher who was accompanying me and my son for our exams and who was prepared to give it a go, and the exam room turned out to be a huge old methodist church with stained glass, wooden pews, balcony the lot! Although the exam therefore started with walking out the long way to the middle of the hall, the acoustics were lovely and it was almost worth taking the exam just to have the chance to play there! Gorgeous!

 

But I don't think it made any difference to the result. I got the same as I had the previous term and grade with the same examiner, but my son did worse than his teacher expected based on his pieces performance on the day. You just can't tell, maybe he just liked me! 


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#6 Misterioso

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 12:58

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?

 

I've taken a few exams in nice old church halls where you really feel as though you are making your instrument sing, and also small, dead, curtained and carpeted rooms.  I don't think my marks were much affected either way - and I'm sure examiners are trained to take into account the surroundings, or there would be whole batches of exams that were turning out with lower than expected results.  But what could change your performance on the day is how you feel about it.  If it's going to make you perform better taking the exam in a hall with good acoustics where you really feel you can give it all you've got, why not go for it - as long as your friend is willing to travel?


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#7 Barry Toner

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 23:02

Thanks for the all the input.  I had a lesson last night and asked my oboe teacher exactly where this magic hall is.  It is a former chapel in the heart of the town, latterly a grammar school and now converted to a Heritage, Cultural and Community Centre.  The main hall can seat around 100, has a fantastic grand piano and a very good acoustic.  I can vouch for this, as I have been to an oboe and piano concert there.  There is a warm up room with piano, as well, so I will chat to my potential accompanist next week and see if he is willing to make the trip.

 

As for the rest of the lesson, it was very much like the curate's egg - good in parts.  One piece: quite good; second piece: coming along; third piece: needs work in some particular areas.  Scales are also coming along, and we have a plan to move these forward.  Sight reading was dreadful (I am usually quite good at this), so I have some plans in this area too.


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#8 windymeller

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 21:52

I've always found, if I manage to take exams in wide open lofty premises with great acoustics, it enables me to enjoy the experience more and get into the music/mood much quicker, if that makes sense?!  Surely if we feel that space improves our performance then its just got to work for us rather than against us in tiny spaces ?  I will be taking my grade 8 flute in a lofted room which is an old chapel and the acoustics are fab. :)


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#9 Tom Nor

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:59

Another consideration is the quality of the piano for your accompanist.    If the "magic hall" also has a nice piano, that is worth something too.    Good luck on your exam, I am doing G6 singing and aural is definitely the hardest part !


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#10 CeliaPiano

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 22:05

Well, I've just had my lesson and have paid my entry fee to my tutor. It really is happening! I'm both excited and nervous about it. Apparently the AB may need to use a different venue as the one that they have been using the past 10 years have increased their hiring fees. :( 


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#11 niobe

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 09:40

I'll be handing over my cheque next week (Trinity piano  GIV). I lost my nerve last summer and bottled out at the 11th hour even though I'd paid the fee. I just wasn't ready for the exam and couldn't cope with my teacher's 'well, have a go anyway' approach. Even she now admits my playing is finally approaching exam standard - it really wasn't last summer!

Good luck to all taking the plunge! :grouphug:


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#12 Splog

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 10:49

I got the all clear from my teacher yesterday too, so Grade 4 piano for me :D


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#13 Norway

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 10:55

Good luck to all of you! :)

 

I'll be doing grade 4 euph.


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#14 balu114

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 16:50

I was thinking of Grade 7 Clarinet for this session but chickened out :ninja:

 

All the best everyone!


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#15 Appassionata

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 07:18

ATCL Saxophone for me  :ninja: . Eek! 


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