Useful information for exams and keeping your cool!

At De Rosa Music, July is one of our busiest periods of the year. As everyone is winding down getting ready for the summer, we host a number of exam dates across a majority of music examining bodies such as Trinity Guildhall, LCM, Rock School & ABRSM. With a vast collective experience with these exams from our teachers and shop staff, we have noted down some useful information regarding these exams and some tips on how to keep calm and play on!

Examining Periods

Each year there are 3 examination periods which take place around the last month of the Spring, Summer and Autumn terms. For those learning the Rockschool syllabus, the exams take place here at DEROSA Music or a local external centre. For those taking either ABRSM or Trinity exams, these may take place at DEROSA Music or in a local, external centre. The venue depends on the number of students. We then liaise with the relevant independent bodies to organise the exam dates and timetable on your behalf. We now also offer exams for the London College Of Music.

Please note, when organising any exams we have limited control over exam dates and times, we can only offer a series of dates once the exams are organised. We will not receive confirmation of a date until we have sent off the entries to the examining body. In order to send off the entries, we must receive the exam fees in advance, as we pay the invoice for all our pupils together.

Student Responsibilities

It is important that the student taking the exam understands they are being prepared for one. This means getting into a good and regular practice routine. A suggested minimum is 20 minutes per day, the key is to practice little and often. There will be course materials needed for the exam which all examining bodies will expect you to bring to the exam for use in the exam itself. These MUST be original copies of book – no photocopies. We/the exam centre are not able to provide substitute materials on the day. If you have any concerns about course materials, please ask your teacher.

Rockschool exams for Grades 6, 7 and 8 – Photo ID requirement

For students taking Rockschool exams at grades 6,7 or 8, Rockschool will ask for photo ID of the candidate for their records. You can present a Passport, Driving Licence or other official form of photo ID, but please be aware that this is now an essential requirement. Without proof of ID, Rockschool will not issue the certificate.

Parental Responsibilities

During this period, we rely on you to be the eyes and ears at home. In order to achieve the best result we need your help to ensure that the pupil is practicing, and expressing any concerns if there are any. If the teacher decides that the pupil is not ready then there is potential for the exam to be cancelled, meaning any exam fees taken will be forfeit. Exam fees are non-refundable.

On exam day, please arrive in good time and ensure the student arrives with their exam books/materials including backing tracks (originals, not copies) to use in the exam.

DEROSA’s Responsibilities

We liaise with you and the teachers to make sure everything’s running smoothly. The shop staff organise and advise you of the exam dates, venue and take the necessary fees for the exams in advance once this information is available. We are dictated the exam dates by the examining body.

Timings of exams

Normally exams will take place on a weekday during school time. Generally schools are happy to allow students out of school for further educational purposes. However please notify the school as far in advance as possible.

In the waiting area

Please arrange for candidates to arrive at least ten minutes before their exam. Candidates can use this time to get their music ready, assemble their instrument, warm up or make a list of their pieces or songs to give to the examiner.

Approaching exams in a relaxed & unhurried fashion is always preferable

Warming up

Most exam preparation, practice and rehearsing takes place well before the exam day, but it is also important for candidates to have time to prepare and settle at the exam venue before their exam begins. This might include thinking about the music they are going to perform or warming up ready to play or sing.

A number of ABRSM centres have a separate warm-up room, sometimes with a piano. If candidates want to use the warm-up room for a few minutes before their exam then the steward will organise this. 

If there is no warm-up room, candidates can warm up for a short time in the waiting area. However, if the exam room is very close to the waiting area it won’t be possible to warm up aloud. In this situation, teachers and candidates need to think about ways to warm up instruments, fingers or embouchures silently.

Once in the exam room, all candidates are welcome to play or sing a few notes to warm up and our examiners encourage them to do this. This can be particularly helpful for pianists, who will want to try out the piano.

It’s natural to feel nervous!

Some candidates will feel nervous before or during their exam. This is natural and is something that the stewards and examiners understand. With experience, many people learn how to deal with nerves and taking exams can actually help with this. 

Other ways to help include:

  • nerves are normal
  • performing regularly in front of others e.g at our pupil concerts or family & friends at home ect…
  • arriving in good time at the exam centre otherwise if you rush, you could end up panicking and go into the exam without a clear head
  • taking a few calm breaths before the exam itself
  • Practise those tricky parts in your pieces at a slower tempo then work your way up to the required speed.
  • ensure you’ve had a good nights sleep before your exam and have a nutritional breakfast to keep you alert and ready to play.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding the exams, please contact De Rosa Music on 01279 465155, email us at [email protected] or pop into the shop and have a chat with our shop staff!

Good luck!

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