[quote name='Robodoc' date='Jul 18 2011, 11:38 PM' post='1076420']
Took it in December, passed everything except the Quick Study (which I retook this afternoon!), so advice:
In general, be lazy: get it right first time!
Don't get seriously acutely ill & have a major operation 3 weeks before the exam, come out of hospital 2 weeks before the exam and then struggle through a 12 inch fall of snow the night before the exam just to get there: I did all that and I wouldn't recommend any of it!
1 - The Recital
Don't limit yourself by attempting to jump straight to your Dip recital pieces from grade 8: develop technique & explore the repertoire along the way. On the other hand, choose your recital pieces well in advance. Try out quite a lot of the pieces on the repertoire list before you make a final choice. Read the syllabus and then choose pieces that both play to your strengths, and that you like - you will be with them for a while. Besides, if you're not playing from the heart you're not really playing. Learn the pieces - not just the notes but the music. Put them aside while you learn something else (repertoire &/or technique development). Relearn them. Put them aside again, then relearn them again. By the third learning cycle you are probably getting them up to scratch.
Be able to play each piece from memory, whether you will do so in the exam or not (but if you are planning to play from score practice playing from score). I could do this for every piece.
Ideally be able to play them hands separately as well as hands together from memory, and with your eyes closed. Be able to write them out in manuscript from memory, including articulation marks, phrasing, dynamics and written instructions. Be able to name every note and say (without actually playing it) which finger you will be playing it with. Be able to start from any named bar. I couldn't do this all for every piece, just for the Bach (!): I passed the recital but only narrowly.
Identify some festivals and play every piece/movement in at least 2 each. If possible identify an opportunity to play the entire recital as a whole somewhere (I played mine at Chetham's summer school). For the last 3 months before the exam play nothing else (except quick studies, see below).
Wow. This is all GREAT and very detailed advice. Thanks so much. Will be extreamly helpful when preparing for the diploma.