Exams: What *is* the examiner looking for
Now, I know there’s no real answer I can give you to ensure you get a distinction in your exams (sorry!). And although the exam boards have a strict marking scheme that can tell you boundaries and what examiners should be awarding marks for, I thought I’d just dedicate this blog post to my experiences as a teacher, student and trainee examiner to what I’ve found that this means.
The examiners are LOOKING FOR REASON TO GIVE YOU MARKS
YES! Yes they are!
It’s so easy to concentrate on the bits you’re not so sure about, the tiny mistakes, the bits you’re not confident about, the missed dynamics. But actually the examiners are always wanting to find reasons to give marks (partly because they don’t want to fail you – otherwise they’ll have to hear you play the same pieces next term!).
So – don’t worry about any mistakes you make, concentrate more on giving it a positive spin.
One area they really concentrate on is intonation and tuning. Now this is a bit of a tricky area, because when you get anxious you might find that you note control is harder to maintain. So do remember to keep listening while you’re playing.
This isn’t just a bug bear of mine (my students will be pleased to know!) but it is one of the more commented on aspects in the report sheets.
Examiners are looking for colour and depth to a performance – not just note accuracy. They want a performance. So that means ensuring the articulation is precise and that the dynamics are there.
I hope this helps calm the nerves a bit.
Remember: they want to award marks, not take away. So give them reasons to give you more!