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ABRSM Exams: Do You Need to Take Every One?

ABRSM Exam Books
ABRSM Exams: Do You Need to Take Every One?

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) offers a comprehensive and renowned examination system for musicians worldwide. As a piano student, you may wonder whether it is necessary to take every ABRSM exam in your musical journey. While the ABRSM exams are valuable for assessing progress and providing recognized qualifications, they are not mandatory for every pianist. In this article, we will explore the factors to consider when deciding whether to take every ABRSM exam and provide insights to help you make an informed decision.

Assessing Personal Goals

Before deciding to take every ABRSM exam, it is crucial to assess your personal goals as a pianist. Consider whether you have aspirations for a professional music career or if playing the piano is mainly a recreational pursuit. ABRSM exams can provide a structured framework for those seeking to pursue music professionally or those who wish to have recognized qualifications. However, if your focus is on personal enjoyment and growth, taking every exam may not be necessary.

Evaluating Learning and Progress

ABRSM exams serve as a valuable tool for assessing your musical progress and providing feedback from experienced examiners. Each exam level presents specific technical and musical challenges that can push you to develop and improve your skills. If you find value in receiving external evaluation and using exams as milestones to mark your progress, taking ABRSM exams can be beneficial. However, regular evaluations can also be achieved through other means, such as participating in local competitions, attending masterclasses, or working closely with a private piano teacher.

Time Commitment and Preparation

Taking ABRSM exams requires a significant investment of time and effort in preparation. Each exam involves learning a prescribed repertoire, scales, sight-reading, and aural tests. If you have limited time available due to other commitments or find the pressure of exam preparation overwhelming, it may not be necessary to take every exam. You can instead focus on honing your skills through regular practice, exploring a broader range of repertoire, and engaging in performance opportunities that align with your personal goals.

Stress and Performance Anxiety

Some pianists may experience stress and performance anxiety in exam settings, which can hinder their ability to showcase their true capabilities. If the pressure and stress associated with exams negatively impact your enjoyment of playing the piano or hinder your performance, it may be worth considering alternative ways to assess your progress and share your music, such as informal recitals, community performances, or recording and sharing your performances online.

Balancing Musical Development

It is important to strike a balance between exam preparation and overall musical development. While ABRSM exams provide structure and focus, they should not be the sole determinant of your musical journey. Exploring a diverse range of musical genres, improvisation, composition, and collaborative opportunities can enrich your musicality and provide a well-rounded development as a pianist. Consider allocating time for these creative aspects alongside exam preparation, ensuring a holistic musical experience.

Taking every ABRSM exam is not a requirement for every pianist. It is essential to align your decision with your personal goals, evaluate the value of external evaluations, and consider the time commitment and stress associated with exam preparation. Remember that the joy of playing the piano, personal growth, and musical exploration should be at the core of your musical journey. Whether you choose to take some or all ABRSM exams, make sure your decision supports your individual aspirations and allows you to enjoy the process of learning, performing, and sharing your music with others.



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