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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

 

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