Exams – or not!
Learning to play the piano takes a long time! It’s useful to have some goals and markers along the way – encouraging you to make a special effort or letting you know what level you have achieved. Sitting piano exams can sometimes be helpful in this way.
The exam system aims to provide an objective assessment of standard and performance. So, to some extent, exams say something not only about the progress of those who sit them but also about the tuition they are receiving.
But exams in themselves do not provide a complete curriculum. You will not learn to play an instrument by working through grade exams year in year out with little attention to the larger world of music out there. Come the end of exams and it really will be the end! We believe that music, and the deeper involvement in music that playing an instrument gives, is for life. Pupils must learn to stand on their own musical feet and find their own ways of spending time at the instrument otherwise they will not play at all after the last exam is behind them. By working through the Ebony Music Piano Course Vols 1–24, our pupils play many pieces at each level and are exposed to many styles of music. By the time they reach the later books in the course, they will be developing their own interest in the kind of music which appeals to them and will be equipped to tackle whatever that is.
Some of our pupils relish the goal of an exam and we are happy to prepare them for whatever grade is appropriate. We always help those who are interested to achieve the highest grade they are capable of before they leave school. As a goal for younger pupils, the performance of a collection of pieces to the extended family and friends is usually more challenging and rewarding than exam work.