If you are a local Singaporean student looking to pass your piano ABRSM examinations, then here are some tips to help you score better for this examination. Anyway, I recommend that you take home music lessons over school lessons if you want to score better for your piano exams as well – reasons are provided here.
First of all, you should practise your singing. Many Singaporean students do not do well at singing, not because they do not know how to sing, but because they do not dare to truly sing out. Many Singaporean students dare to sing at karaoke sessions and in front of their friends, but due to the conservative culture, do not dare to sing out loud in front of strangers – e.g. the piano examiner. You want to practise singing in front of people. If that is not possible, simply care less about trying to impress others (e.g. the examiner) and instead try to impress yourself. Too many local students in Singapore mess up the aural part of the piano exam because they try too hard to impress the examiner, but at the same time, are afraid of messing up, and so do not sing properly and naturally. Although the overall percentage from the aural part of the piano exam is relatively small, you should work hard and use the tips I mentioned to score better. Every score is important to get the distinction for your piano exams.
Second of all, another weak point of Singaporean students is the sight reading. That is right. This is also due to the culture in Singapore – but instead of the conservative culture which affects the aural segment, I am referring to the perfectionist culture present in many top Singapore schools. Since most music and piano students in Singapore hail from primary, secondary and JC schools in Singapore, the students most likely suffer from a perfectionist syndrome. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. It is an advantage because you will usually perform better for the three exam pieces. However, it is a disadvantage when it comes to more spontaneous piano playing like sight reading part of the piano ABRSM exams in Singapore. This is because nearly all local students in Singapore like to replay the entire piece if they hit one single wrong note, or are so caught up with trying to play the right note that they mess up the entire rhythm of the song. The rhythm of the song gets a much heavier weightage when it comes to the scoring for the sight reading segment of the piano ABRSM segment, so you must work much harder on getting the rhythm right, than getting all the notes right. This is something that can be deeply uncomfortable for many local students, but you must get used to this change if you want to succeed at the sight reading segment of your piano examination.