Return to site


How To Make the Grade for your Piano Exams

The Secret to Making The Grade for your Piano Examination!

Some individuals might find playing the piano difficult enough, as the coordination that is involved feels like an uphill task. Some students do take the piano examinations as a platform to test their knowledge on piano repertoire and technique. As the piano exams are ongoing now, please take some time to follow some of these basic steps to ease some of the anxiety and stress you may have with your approaching piano exams.


  • Ensure that you are very familiar with what is expected of the piano exams. For example, the scales (how many octaves you are required to play depending on the grade you are at, the different sections of scales eg, major, minor, melodic and harmonic, broken chords, chromatic scales, in parallel and contrary motion, arpeggios, diminished 7th etc.) the pieces, sight-reading, and the different sections of the aural test. The more familiar you are with what is expected the least stress you will feel.
  • Practice for about an hour every day approaching your piano exam. Schedule your practice sessions by using half of the session practicing your scales and arpeggios, and practicing the repertoire that will be required for the exam using the other half of the session.
  • Record yourself playing and going through the motions in order to gain a more objective idea of how you will perform during your exam.
  • Ask a friend or piano teacher to help you to give a mock piano exam and assess you. The more you go through the motions, the more confident you are.
  • Find opportunities to play in front of others. The objective is to get used to playing in front of other people besides your teacher or familiar person. This is to build up your confidence level as well.

Last but definitely not least, relax before your exam and don't practice on the day of your exams. The reason is that if you make a slip just before your exam, you will remember it and the likely hood of making that same slip during the exam is very high.

Here are some final tips:

  • Practice good posture at all times during playing; imagine the examiner seeing you slouch over the piano, what kind of impression will he/she get? So remember to sit upright. It will certainly influence the grading of your exam.
  • End your practice sessions by playing something enjoyable to develop your skills and lessen stress.
  • Try piano exercises and techniques to strengthen your technique, skill and control with the instrument.
  • Do not practice the day before your exam. If you have been diligently practicing, there is no need to do so the day before the exams as it may cause more anxiety.

So RELAX.. and visualise the positive outcomes of the exams rather than focusing and stressing on the possibility or likelyhood that you will mess up during the examinations.

I know many of you will be taking your piano examinations, so

Here's Wishing you, All the Best during the exams, and success in your musical endeavors.  Remember to enjoy your playing, and let your fingers do the rest as you have been practicing over the months building up to this event. YOU CAN DO IT!!