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Exam in 6 days


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#1 AWebb

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 12:50

I have my first ever music exam in 6 days...grade 2 harp. I am quite nervous as I only started learning last September and basically never play in public. I have been trying to play for friends and family in order to reduce nerves on the day.

I keep having nightmare scenarios in my mind of a string breaking in the middle of a piece. Any tips out there for getting through your first exam?
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#2 DaisyChain

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 13:06

I tell my students to:
  • Smile and look confident even if you're not feeling it!
  • Say "good morning/afternoon" to the examiner (as appropriate)
  • Take all the time you need to get comfortable with your instrument
  • If you make any mistakes/stumbles in your playing, try not to start again, but find a place in the next bar and start from there. Whatever you do, keep going!
  • Remember that the examiner is there to support you in your success, and will be more than aware of nerves. It's good to have nerves, but try not to panic!

Having nightmares is normal. Before my exams or a public performance, I often dream that I sit down at the piano and have no clue where middle C is and have lost my ability to read music! It is only a dream of course, and if your string should break, I'm sure the examiner will have come across that scenario too. All the best for your exam, and well done you! smile.gif


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#3 Norway

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 13:06

QUOTE(AWebb @ Jun 27 2012, 01:50 PM) View Post

I have my first ever music exam in 6 days...grade 2 harp. I am quite nervous as I only started learning last September and basically never play in public. I have been trying to play for friends and family in order to reduce nerves on the day.

I keep having nightmare scenarios in my mind of a string breaking in the middle of a piece. Any tips out there for getting through your first exam?

I should get your string replacement routine off to a fine art to reduce anxiety (luckily harp strings don't break very often) - I think it's the clove hitch knot I need to change a string on my lever harp (all a bit fiddly!) If one did go, I imagine that they would let you go out to fix it while they got on with examining someone else - it's not a quick fix and you would need to retune, let the string settle etc. I received wonderful treatment from examiners for my grade 1 and 2 harp - they were so pleased and excited to see a harpist (they were like mother hens bless them!!!) that I'm sure you have nothing to worry about! Enjoy it and good luck! smile.gif
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#4 GMc

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 17:03

Dont worry, chances of a string going are v remote. Check for any with tatty bits and change now. Can you tie the required knot though? If not get learning....And take your whole kit with you.

If one did break I would finish the piece pretending to play the missing string if poss. It is v unlikely to ruin everything and that is what the pros do. Then talk to examiner about going out to change it while he does next candidate and remind him that the string is likely to be a bit off as unsettled. Pull it a bit sharp and hopefully it will drop a touch as you go. Hopefully he will offer a replay of piece as its only grade 2 so not v long.

Have you tried recording and listening back? And made sure you have points in each piece to pick up from if they have a major prob to avoid going back to the start? And play with deliberate distractions thrown in by others if poss.

Have fun. Keep rustling up audience. Try your local old peoples home perhaps. The examiner will probably not have done many harps and will be excited to see one. What are you playing?
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#5 Norway

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Posted 27 June 2012 - 22:11

[quoteHaving nightmares is normal. Before my exams or a public performance, I often dream that I sit down at the piano and have no clue where middle C is and have lost my ability to read music! It is only a dream of course, and if your string should break, I'm sure the examiner will have come across that scenario too. All the best for your exam, and well done you! smile.gif
[/quote]
You're not alone Primrose - this actually happens to me! I have an upright piano, and when I go to accompany my pupils on the exam room concert grand, I'm not absolutely sure where middle C is...! Too many octaves and too many notes! unsure.gif
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#6 AWebb

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 08:09

QUOTE(GMc @ Jun 27 2012, 06:03 PM) View Post

Dont worry, chances of a string going are v remote. Check for any with tatty bits and change now. Can you tie the required knot though? If not get learning....And take your whole kit with you.

If one did break I would finish the piece pretending to play the missing string if poss. It is v unlikely to ruin everything and that is what the pros do. Then talk to examiner about going out to change it while he does next candidate and remind him that the string is likely to be a bit off as unsettled. Pull it a bit sharp and hopefully it will drop a touch as you go. Hopefully he will offer a replay of piece as its only grade 2 so not v long.

Have you tried recording and listening back? And made sure you have points in each piece to pick up from if they have a major prob to avoid going back to the start? And play with deliberate distractions thrown in by others if poss.

Have fun. Keep rustling up audience. Try your local old peoples home perhaps. The examiner will probably not have done many harps and will be excited to see one. What are you playing?


I haven't had a string break yet, so I've never changed one. They all look fine though, so hopefully this is just me being crazy smile.gif

I'm playing:
While Bagpipes Play, Mister Blister's March and Mountain Stream.
I think they provide a bit of variety and are all quite nice pieces.
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#7 Norway

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 13:10

Do you have someone who can show you how to change a string? You really need to know this, regardless of exams. If you are in my neck of the woods I could show you if I can remember how to do it! (I have one which needs fixing anyway - PM me if you like). Good luck! harp.gif smile.gif
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#8 soccermom

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 19:08

Don't want to alarm you but one of my daughter's strings did once break in an exam. She wasn't playing at the time - it went just after she'd finished one of her scales She came charging out of the room to summon me in. Fortunately I had spare strings with me and it didn't take long to get the new one on. We didn't leave the room and get the next candidate in. It was right at the start of the exam so I don't suppose the next person would have been ready.

So whilst it is very very unlikely to happen, it's as well to know what to do if it does!

Good advice form GMc and I'd only add that you should retune the relevant string in between pieces.
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#9 Bella-drum

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 20:46

Please note: I've never played Harp in my life.

But after three piano exams I can tell you that the wait to go in for your exam is never ending ........... and the exam itself goes in seconds. It simply seems to fly by.
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#10 AWebb

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 17:58

Phew, it's done and no broken strings. I don't think I played amazingly but hopefully did enough to pass smile.gif

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#11 Norway

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 05:55

Well done! smile.gif Let us know how you got on!
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