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Finally, let it be reiterated that it cannot be too strongly impressed on pupils that the greatest concentration and avoidance of mechanical playing are essential to any success at all.

VI-EXAMINATIONS

With many teachers a large part of their work is taken up with preparing pupils for examinations, and a few words of advice on this subject are necessary.

Firstly, a strong warning is needed : examinations must be treated as a means to an end, not as the end itself. The following will make clear what is meant by this statement.

Examinations may be profitably and justifiably used as an incentive to make pupils work hard and well, and to give the successful ones a definite reward for their labour. Also, in the case of advanced pupils, the possession of a diploma is an asset, and gives definite professional status, should this be desired. Examinations are also a test of the value or otherwise of the teacher's method of working. But to be continually entering as many as possible of one's pupils for examinations, with the sordid aim of piling up long lists of successes, is absolutely wrong-it is making an end of what is really only a means. The result often is that the pupils of such a teacher come to look on the study of music not as something which may, and should, be a source of pleasure both to themselves and others, but as a continuous working for one test after another. The artistic and pleasurable sides of the question are entirely lost sight of, as is also the fact that not everybody has the " examination mind." In many cases one finds pupils, both young and old, who can do good work under normal con- ditions, but who seem constitutionally incapable of doing well under the eye of an examiner. (The same not infrequently occurs in connection with paper-work examinations, where there is no examiner actually present : the very fact of working under examination conditions induces an attack of " nerves " and results in poor work.) To enter such pupils for examinations is sheer cruelty, but many teachers persist in doing so. Each examination that is taken causes a greater nervous strain, and results get steadily worse.

No examination should ever be attempted until the pupil has arrived at a standard of performance well above that which will be required. To work a student just up to the level expected is quite useless, as it leaves no reserves to draw on, no margin to allow for nervousness ; and the examination candidate who does not suffer from nerves, in however mild a form, is so rare as to be negligible. In particular the technical standard of the examination must be well covered, or a bad performance is almost inevitable. If the candidate can only just manage to give a satisfactory rendering of his pieces, &c., under comfortable conditions, he is reasonably certain to give an unsatisfactory one in the examination room.

To be continued

 

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