ABRSM Performance exam results are in - all my pupils passed! This is the first time I have entered students for a remotely assessed exam and there were a few anxious moments. Concerns about camera angles, file size and the process of submitting the recordings were considerably stressful for me. Also, aspects of interpreting the requirements for the marking criteria have caused much thought and consideration. However, it’s all good news! Now that the first attempt is successfully completed (although there are still some points which I am unsure about) this is definitely an exam style that I would consider for the future.
When starting to learn to play an instrument it’s inevitable that you have particular pieces that you would like, one day, to play. It’s also easy for that to become your sole focus - but then you miss enjoying the journey. I’ve just started to play the treble recorder (as a complete beginner) and, even though I’ve had to work my way through the easiest beginner pieces, I am so enjoying the journey of learning. Be careful that you don’t miss the enjoyment that there is in playing all sorts of pieces as you build up your skillset. Of course keep some favourites in mind as a motivation to practice - but enjoy playing for its own sake, regardless of your ability level.
Musical arrangements are par for the course. They are necessary at times to tailor music to the availability of instruments to hand and the skill of the performer. Some arrangements works particularly well whereas others are just best left alone. If there’s a piece that you’d love to play then by all means enjoy playing an arrangement that works for your chosen instrument. However, I would avoid choosing arrangements as exam pieces. Why would you choose an arrangement when there is a wealth of beautiful music written specifically for your instrument. If you only play arrangements of popular pieces then you miss out on delving into the canon of music and artistic heritage of your chosen instrument. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to really dig into the musical timeline of your instrument and the different techniques that are required for such pieces. If you only choose arrangements you get a narrow perspective in your musical development.
Modern art and avant garde music causes mixed reactions. I’m not a huge fan of art installations etc but I do like certain pieces of abstract art and I do enjoy playing 20th century music. Both modern art and music can create emotions and can have a beauty all of their own, outside the usual boundaries. I simply love Messiaen’s Preludes and I love to play Debussy’s flute music. However, how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? Things can get strange! I recommend you dip your toes in the waters at least. Who knows what you will discover…
As lockdown restrictions once again come into force, there’s a whole world of pleasure to be found in music making, and I’m reminded of the blessings that I have, as well as the limitations that restrict my musical activity. Even though my world is starting to shrink, yet again, I am made aware of the joy of music and the great musical community that we are! Thank you to my fellow YouTubers for being part of this - you bring me such joy. I’m so grateful. Thank you!