There are namely 3 parts to any piano ABRSM examinations, and they are the theory part, and practical exam which is broken down into the playing part and the aural part. Most Singaporean students do very well in the theory examinations because studying is what they did their whole life. However, the aural examinations is a common weak segment of the piano ABRSM examinations for local Singaporean students. Here are some tips to help you (if you are a SG piano student) with your aural exams!
First of all, practise singing in awkward situations. Yes, it feels really awkward if you’re standing right in front of your parents and it’s silent everywhere else and you start singing or humming to the piano tune. It certainly feels ridiculously awkward. However, if you are able to do this, chances are, you will not feel awkward in front of your examiner. Do not attempt this practice with your friends, because most people like to sing randomly in front of their friends, but almost never do so in front of their parents. You want to feel so awkward during practice, that you feel natural during the piano exams.
Second of all, sing it out loud and ignore everyone. “Easier said than done!” is what a lot of students tell me when I teach them this advice. However, they are all wrong. The key is that you have probably only read that I told you to ‘ignore everyone’ without reading the first part – singing OUT LOUD! Yes that is right. When you sing so loud, you actually tend to feel less awkward. It may sound odd, but the truth is, sometimes you have probably randomly sang a song in public or in the house super loudly without caring what anyone thinks about you. You want to practise this. Similar to point number one in the above paragraph, the number one reason most Singaporean students do not do well in the ABRSM aural segment is due to conservatism and self imposed embarrassment.
Third of all, record yourself. Most piano students actually can sing quite well, because they are also able to hear the piano tone (when they are playing the piano) and know whether it is correct or wrong. Some Singaporean students underestimate their singing ability, simply because they have not actually heard themselves from a recorded playback. Most people sound different when singing to themselves. The only accurate way to judge your own singing is by recording it using a voice recorder (most phones in 2018 have them anyway) and then playback. This way, you find out your mistakes and correct it until you feel very confident over time!
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