This Tuesday three of my piano students will sit their 3rd Grade Piano exams. Two students sat 5th grade earlier in the year. Preparing students for exams is hard work, and stressful as time runs out.
Two of my students doing exams on Tuesday are just 8 years old, and twin sisters. (I can only work out which is which by the pieces they are playing for their exam ... when the exams are over I will have to come up with a different method of identification!) They are young to be doing 3rd grade, but capable, on the whole. I think they would do better with a few extra weeks, but they were unlucky to be given an early date in the exam period. The other student is 10 years old, even more gifted, and makes me, the teacher, inspired. She is oh so enthusiastic. We have intelligent conversations about her pieces and she can't get enough of it all.
After their exams we can relax a bit, and learn some music for fun. Every year I vow I will not go through this again, but pretty soon I find myself in the same boat again, putting another student and myself through this stress.
The rewards? Well, apart from a certificate, grading and report, and being able to proudly tell their friends they passed __th grade and now they have started on the next grade ... the student gains a lot of knowledge, experience and invaluable practising and interpretation skills. They begin to see the value of practising a piece over a period of months, and improving it. They learn to perform in front of others with confidence, and they have a repertoire to pull out for visiting relatives and school concerts. I teach them things I otherwise might forget to teach them, or not teach so methodically.
Hmmm ... I wonder who I might send to do an exam next year?