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Have any of you who started playing as an adult passed any music exams like ABRSM? If so, how it went? And why did you do it?
We have a little different exam system in the music schools in my country. We have only 3 basic grades when ABRSM has 8. After them there is also grade D, which offers you the opportunity to apply to a university of the arts to study music.
My plan is to do the grade 2 exam later this year. I think it corresponds quite well to grade 5 ABRSM.
I talked about this with my teacher today and he encouraged me to do it. We will start to practice for this.
I have not any special reason to do that, I just want to. I just want to prove to myself and my family that I can.
It’s a whole other thing how I can really do the exam, because I’m really, really nervous about performing. On the other hand, it could be a great opportunity to practice it.
Just to be clear, there is no formal exam system in the US. ABRSM (UK) and Royal Conservatory (Canada) exams are offered in most major cities, but most of the people who take them are students who started learning in the British or Canadian systems and later moved to the US. Consequently, almost no one in the US takes the lower grades.
I have not taken exams for string instruments, because I self-taught for the first 16 years. I took the piano and music theory exams growing up, all the way to ABRSM Diploma in piano performance and Grade 8 music theory. That was because I started taking piano lessons in Dubai and continued to take the exams in the US. Also, my US piano teacher actually encouraged most of her students to take the Canadian exams, which is quite unusual in the US.
I do think the exam system has some real benefits as compared to the way music is usually taught in the US. Here there's a little too much emphasis on learning pieces, and not enough on musicianship. Many American music students do not become good sight-readers until they reach fairly advanced levels of technical ability. At least in the UK and Canada, sight-reading and aural tests are important parts of the exam.
Even though I self-taught violin and viola and did not take exams, I used the ABRSM and Royal Conservatory syllabi as technical checklists.