|With pupils who, for some reason or another, are taking a
succession of examinations, there must be a decent interval between each
test. Many teachers are inclined to try to reduce this interval to a minimum
; as soon as one examination is passed, the pupil starts immediately to
prepare for the next. This entails two bad consequences. Firstly, as has
already been indicated, the pupil tends to look on the study of music as a
mere drilling for one examination after another, and nothing else. Secondly,
it gives no time for general study, and the careful building up of solid
technique and musicianship.
It is important that pupils entering for examinations should view them
from the right angle. In many cases both teacher and pupil seem to look on
them more or less as battles between examiner and candidate, with the odds
strongly in favour of the former. This attitude is most emphatically wrong.
The examiner's work is to give a fair and unbiassed judgment on the
candidate's performance, to assess the good and the bad points in his work.
He is not employed to trap the examinee, though many teachers seem to think
that he is ; nor is his principal aim to fail as many entrants as possible.
If candidates could be got to realise these points there would be far less
failures due to pupils being, quite needlessly, frightened of examiners.
They should be taught to consider examiners as friendly critics, stressing
the word " friendly."
In cases of re-entry after a previous failure a change of pieces (and
studies) is almost always advisable, unless the failure is obviously due to
insufficient time for preparation. If there has been a sudden decision to
enter at the last moment, and the pupil simply has not spent enough time on
the work presented, change is not essential.
As to the period of time to be spent on the preparation of studies and
pieces for an examination, this varies with the individual student. Ample
time must naturally be allowed, but if it is found that a whole term or more
has to be spent on one set of pieces and studies, the idea of an examination
should be abandoned, or one of an easier grade substituted. Some teachers
seem quite content for pupils to be working at the same things for as much
as a whole year, with no variation. The evils of this are obvious : complete
staleness, and probably hearty dislike of both teacher and music in general
on the part of the student, and in all probability complete boredom on the
part of the teacher. As already stated, pupils should never enter for any
examination until they are well above the required standard in every
respect, and if they cannot attain this standard in the selected pieces in a
reasonable time, they should not be allowed to enter at all.
A further point which may be stressed is that candidates are expected by
the examiner to be well prepared in every branch of the examination. So many
teachers seem to think that provided the pieces and studies are
satisfactory, other matters do not count for much. This is an erroneous
impression, and tends to show a certain degree of slackness on the part of
the teacher. If the examining bodies did not consider such matters as
Sight-reading, Ear-training, Viva Voce, &c., to be of importance, they would
not be included in the syllabus
To be continued