Right - Where do I start? I thought I would share with you my story, because it could have had such a different outcome and I look forward to your advices if I ever decide to put myself through this again !
I bought a keyboard for the kids for Xmas last year, which amused them for the whole of a month or two... whilst tidying it away one evening, I found myself drawn to it and before I knew it, I could read notes. I went on to learn by myself for a little while using the keyboard book's simple melody, till I found a local piano teacher. Soon after connecting, I bought an upright piano.
In May i started the lessons, using 1-4 Thompson piano books, I quickly realised that i could be quite good at this, given time and effort. It was a great "me" time, what with my full time job in the city and the 3 kids in toe.
Then around October, my piano Teacher told me that I was ready to tackle Grade 1 pieces. I did not quite believe that, as most non-musical adults would take over a year usually to get there, and the pieces look daunting but most importantly i did not want to do the exams . He duly registered me for March and off i went with my 3 pieces, my scales and the rest. By the time the exam came round, I could play the pieces by heart, all of them, and I was able to "play" with them, meaning that I could add musicality to them, be very dramatic and soft, hard and mean :-) seriously, in the comfort of my home, and in front of the immediate family, i was superbe!
Yes, you might have picked it up.... in the comfort of my house....
On the day of the exam, I was apprehensive, but I slept well, ate well and was looking forward to it. I have never lacked confidence and with mock exams at distinction level, i had nothing to be worried about. All i wanted was a pass; anything else would have been a bonus.
The local exam center is in someone's house. The examiner wore a bow tie and a suit and was extremely serious. This was somehow different to my piano teacher who is really relaxed and whom I have a great laugh with. I don't take myself seriously and nor does he. I am having fun !
I confidently shook the examiner's hand, look at him straight and handed my piece of paper and sat down on the piano stool.
He asked me to use the piano for practice, but within 30 sec, expressed that we should start the exam. That de-stabilised me a little but I was fine.
We started on the scales, and then it started ... the violent shaking of both hands. I stopped, regained composure, apologised and started again.... i just managed to do the scales, with no mistake, but monotonous and too flat, and importantly shaky.
We moved on to my pieces... now this is the moment when I am meant to shine, these i could do in my sleep, boringly so. Then the shaking went worse as i looked at my book with the notes swimming in front of me......and then disaster, I actually could not even start. I stood up, shook my arms like some octopus and apologised profusely that i did not know what was happening to me,
I started again, but i simply could not play, i never made it past Bar 6 in any of my 3 pieces. I was beyond perplexed and kept looking at him for some support, which sadly never came. I nearly stood up to walk out, but he persuaded me to continue with the rest of the exam.
I moved to the side chair and relaxed in the knowledge that i failed and therefore nothing else could go wrong. Surprisingly, i thought i did really well at the aural then and subsequently found i scored 17/18)
i say surprisingly because my teacher and I did not really work on the scales or anything else than the pieces, we'd rehearsed the aural bit and i seemed to get it mostly right, the echo, the differences, the clapping... but i was banking everything on the pieces.
I never wanted to take the exams, but i sure wanted to play the pieces well, and I failed.
So for those out there - just a word of advice from me,,,,, play in front of other people before the exam. Go and try another piano if you can. Eat a banana 40mns beforehand. keep smiling,,,, as i certainly could not at the time.
PS;- i did get >15 marks for each of my pieces, which was surprising considering I never finished them. Overall i scored 95, which is simply just sad !
I am not giving up piano though, I am already on Allegretto, and loving it...