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Taking Grade 2: I did it!

8 months ago

Barbara Eifler

Chief Executive at Making Music

It’s happened! Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive at Making Music, has finally taken her Grade 2 Singing. But how did it go – and did she pass? Read Barbara’s final blog post to find out.


The dress rehearsal

There’s quite a bit of grade taking and showing off pieces going on in the Making Music office these days (I’m the fourth candidate in 2017!), and so it seems only fair to inflict a full dress rehearsal on my colleagues.

In particular, I want to film one of my songs (the music hall number 'Nobody Loves A Fairy When She’s Forty') with props and costume, so I can use it to fundraise among my friends for Orchestras for All’s 2018 Musical Chairs project.

The real thing

Crunch time! Accompanist Ian and I meet at ABRSM’s stunning new building in the City, and have a warm-up. Am I nervous? I don’t think so; the work meeting later in the day probably looms larger.

But then we’re in, and while I manage the first two songs reasonably well (I feel), I suddenly make a hideous mistake at the start of the 'Fairy' song. And then come the sight-singing (at least one mistake) and aural tests. I’m sure I’ve sung back incorrectly, and clapped the wrong rhythm. Will my pieces balance that out and give me a Merit overall? I’ll have to wait and see.

Look how far I’ve come

This has felt like a long and convoluted journey, with frequent side-tracking into dead ends until I finally got going on working towards my 2017 goal of a Grade 2 in Singing.

Finding the right teacher for me was what made the difference. It wasn't just her technical expertise – having Felicity as a guide stopped me worrying and meant I started enjoying working towards Grade 2. And as I’m doing this for fun in my spare time, that’s important to me. 

So this would be my no. 1 tip for any other adult learners: spend some time finding the right teacher.

But however good your teacher is, the hardest challenge for any adult, not just me, surely, is finding the time to practise. There is a huge incentive, though. Once I started working on my voice, I noticed a difference so quickly that it prompted me to create that time in my diary for a bit of practising on a regular basis.

But I also had to relax a bit about how long and how often that regular practise would happen – I now know that 10 minutes three times a week is more helpful than an hour once a fortnight.

So my tip no. 2 is: practise regularly, but don’t beat yourself up about it if it’s not your entire exercise programme every day. A little bit and often is what does it.

But tip no 3 is this: remember this is such fun! I found songs I really enjoyed, I managed to learn them by heart (I’m a pianist, for goodness’ sake, I need notes normally!), my voice felt like it got stronger and probably more agreeable for others to listen to. All good, and such great relaxation from the stresses of everyday life, too.


I got a Distinction! 

Interested in taking a Singing exam? Find out what’s involved.
Making Music is a UK charity that provides advice, support and resources for leisure-time musical and music groups.
Orchestras for All’s mission is to unlock access to the life-changing experience of ensemble music-making for young people with complex lives.


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