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Taking Grade 2: It's time to practise

6 months ago

Barbara Eifler

Chief Executive at Making Music

Songs: tick. Teacher: tick. Now it’s down to Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive at Making Music, to get practising for Grade 2. Read her third blog post to find out how she got on.
 

PART 3

I’m happy!

I love the songs we've finally chosen, so now I ‘just’ need to practise. This is a joke, as work is manic and the four children are in and out of the house trailing truckloads of dirty washing, alongside a steady stream of summer visitors requiring food and entertainment.

And what is a good time of day to practise? I like to use the piano to help me, but it’s in the living room usually occupied by teenagers binge-watching television or playing computer games against people halfway across the world, shouting a lot on Skype.

It’s a bit hit-and-miss, but a few snatched practice sessions (mornings before work and the odd early evening) immediately bring joy. I do love singing! 

Practising away

First, I always have to learn the notes and rhythm absolutely perfectly. I don’t find that too difficult. But then there are the words. I really struggle with remembering words. Luckily my teacher Felicity’s advice to learn the lyrics by writing them down works a treat for me.

I’m practising every two to three days now, and I do feel my voice is getting stronger already – good motivation to keep going! 

Then I get to the stage, which is both fun and irritating, when the songs are going round and round in my head all day, a phenomenon I remember well from my days as a stage manager in opera. There were times back then when I fervently wished never to hear that Toreador Song ever again. But I’m not at that stage with my songs yet, and hopefully will get to the exam before I tire of them!

Missing piece of the jigsaw

Three of the songs require an accompanist, of course, and a friend who accompanied me for Grade 1 is luckily willing to do so again for Grade 2. As soon as the holidays are over, I take the music to him and we have a go.

That gives me a boost at the stage when I start flagging a bit, having learned the songs but being too far from the exam date to really focus yet. It always makes such a difference for me when I get to practise with the accompanist. Suddenly, it feels like a complete performance.

Not forgetting…

On the whole, I feel I’m making good progress when the exam date comes through, and OMG, I’ve totally forgotten there’s sight-reading and aural as well!

Felicity, of course, hasn’t, and after a few practices expresses her complete confidence in my ability to excel in this part of the exam. Confidence that I can’t say I’m able to share. Never mind singing four songs in front of a stranger – how do I repeat back what the examiner will play? And clap a rhythm? Help!

Exam time

Oh no, 9.17am! My heart sinks at the prospect. I’m no good at mornings anyway, never mind uttering melodious sounds that early. More to the point, I can’t make it to the venue at that time. But Felicity knows I can ring ABRSM if I have a problem. Patiently, my ABRSM interlocutor helps me find a new slot. Phew! 

I’m all set now. Exam, here we come!

Check back for Barbara’s final post later this week to know how she got on in her exam. 

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.

 

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