Often, my students and their peers ask the question if taking music exams is helpful and adds value. In this competitive world everything is quantified by numbers and certificates. So, is it essential to add a metric to a passion or something they want to follow as extracurricular?
While learning music, I faced the exact same problem. Sometimes I even felt that the exam system was being forced upon me. That it was taking away the joy of playing music altogether. But when I look back at it now, taking music exams was one of the best decisions I made. Not just because I took this up as my career, but also because of the joy and pride I felt by owning those certificates.
So I gave it some thought. For all the people who feel burdened by the pressure of taking music exams, here are some reasons why you should not give up on them:
Even though students enjoy music, they are often not willing to put in the effort that it requires. Being an off-school activity that needs academics-like attention, music education often becomes a part of the least-priority pool from everything a person does in her day to day life. Examinations create the compulsion that promotes music to a more important status. It also helps add a set timeline to the preparation which teachers and students can follow.
Structure & Skill Building
Graded Music Exams are designed in different levels so that students can develop their skills incrementally over a period of time. Important skills such as technique, memorization and awareness of different musical styles are built gradually and thoroughly.
Benchmarking & Quantifying Progress
In a lot of cases, the music parents and music students are not from a musical background. So, any subjective feedback that they get about their progress doesn’t necessarily help them understand where they stand. In such scenarios, a music exam gives the student a visible and recognized measure of their progress.
Further, seeking out for peers who are preparing for the same level as you and attempting the same pieces as you gives you a sense of perspective on your standing. You can even go ahead and interact with students above your level, to get a direction on where you are headed. This makes it easier for everyone to relate to and understand their progress.
Motivation & Self Confidence
Music exams help motivate the students. As they pass each exam, they start to believe a little more in themselves. Performing music depends highly on the mental state of a person. If students believe in themselves, they are able to learn faster. Succeeding in a Music examinations can help a great deal in creating a sense of achievement with constructive feedback and a certificate they can boast.
Examinations should simply be taken as recitals where you are performing for a single audience member. Perform like you’re on stage and present yourself like the world is watching. A huge source of performance anxiety is due to the feeling of being judged, isn’t that what an examination is? It prepares you to cope with what lies ahead.
The world today is highly competitive and every new skill added on the CV matters to get into the premium colleges. Parents start worrying about college as soon as their kids start school. Being certified in a niche area such as music adds to the overall personality of the student in front of the college recruiter.
Learning music is a long journey. While most people take up music as just a hobby, you never know what clicks with you along that road. Creating a career out of your passion is what most individuals crave and at one point you might see music as a career option. At such times, a degree gives you credibility to practice it professionally and serves as a proof of knowledge. For that reason, it is always a good thing to get certified whenever you get an opportunity.