I have recently done an AMEB flute exam.
Now, anyone who’s not an Australian is going to read that and go, “Uh-huh?!” In Australia, we like to rank aspiring musicians. We have grades 1 through to 8 (followed by four diploma exams) and this basically means that kids can wave around pieces of paper that are an indication of:
-Their stress levels
-Their tiger parents
-And whether they actually ARE good at music.
(Note: if you don’t know what a “tiger parent” is read this.)
So I, as one who just survived, am going to give some tips on how to survive:
1. NEVER under any circumstances drink coffee or red cordial before an exam.
If nerves don’t give you enough bobbance and bounce to send you playing everything at triple speed, caffeine will make it worse. Or, more usefully, don’t start your pieces too fast.
2. NEVER let the examiner smell fear.
They’re like Nazgul. They can sense it and prey off your weak mind. Okay, not quite. But examiners are happy people when they don’t have to feel nervous for you, so when in doubt, fudge. NEVER say, “Ah, this is my worst piece” or “I don’t know the answer” or “sorry for messing that up.” No! If you forget an answer, make something up. If you mess up, pretend it never happened.
3. ALWAYS warm up before hand.
You know how people get better the longer they play? Yeah. If you’ve done scales or run some hard stuff ten minutes before the exam, your fingers/breath/whatever-you-play-with will remember what it’s doing better.
4. ALWAYS tune your instrument!
Like, times x1000000. If you tune it between every piece, the Earth will rain beauty upon you. Especially if you play strings. Nothing has made me want to make a Frodo-face like out-of-tune strings.
5. ALWAYS read the syllabus requirements.
It’s funny, but in the front of any syllabus (probably the Manual of Syllabuses, particularly) there are details. Oh-so-many details about what’s required for technique, sight reading, general knowledge, and playing maturity. Let me tell you, reading through all that helped me.
There you have it. My attempts at being all professional and musician-y.
I do realise this is a bad time of year to post AMEB exam tips, as most exams are over, but still.
Mime is currently feeling very relieved that her certificate came today. She got an A+. She had a generous examiner. She also has to read Tomorrow When the War Began for school and would very much like to know if it’s any good. She is lamenting the fact she’s out of liquorice tea, and very excited because she has art tomorrow. Art is good, because abstract is easy. Throw paint, drip paint, make friends raise their eyebrows… good times.