The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in almost all of us adapting the way we work, including the various music exam boards who are now offering remote assessments. In this blog post I’m going to offer some tips on preparing and recording video performances for these grades.
1. Prepare as if you were taking a face-to-face exam with an examiner
When taking a remote exam there is often more flexibility over the exam date, but having a deadline to work towards can help to focus practising. Plan ahead and chose a date for recording so that you practise efficiently, working towards this goal.
2. Practise recording yourself
You may be surprised how strange it feels to play to a recording device. It’s important, therefore, to record some of your practise sessions to get used to this.
3. Get all the information from the exam board so you record correctly
The exam boards all have slightly different guidelines for making the recording. Make sure you read through all the information thoroughly so the video you submit meets the necessary requirements.
4. Think about lighting and positioning of the camera
While you are not assessed on the quality of your recording, you want to make sure it is well presented and easy for the examiner to watch. Ensure the room is well lit and the camera set up so that the examiner will have a clear view of the piano.
5. Avoid distractions
Think about anything that could interrupt the recording, such as the doorbell or telephone. Where possible, switch devices off.
6. Do several takes
Most exam boards allow you to record the performance more than once. Make use of this and do several recordings. You can listen back and compare them before submitting the best version to the exam board.
7. Don’t record too many takes
You will find that after recording a few takes the concentration may not be as good as it was at the beginning of the recording session. Therefore only record two or three versions at a time. You can always try again another day if you wish.
8. Think about how you present yourself
Read the marking criteria of the exam board carefully. Usually the overall performance is assessed as part of the grade. Its therefore worth ensuring you present yourself well. Wear clothes you are comfortable performing in. Work out how you will manage page turns. Think about the order of the pieces and take time between them. Don’t be afraid to smile to the camera at the end of the exam and thank the examiner for listening.
9. Enjoy yourself
Most importantly of all, enjoy yourself. Making music should always be fun!