Today I went to Windstruments Music House to accompany my friend Matthew’s ABRSM grade 3 trumpet exam, which was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in an exam room. A bit of background: Matthew is someone I’ve known since childhood – we met at Salt Grammar School in Saltaire as we started our studies towards GCSE Music, continued on to A Level music together, then even enrolled together on a Masters level music course as adults. Oh, and I introduced him to his wife. So, it’s fair to say that we know one another pretty well!!
Matthew is a very musical person indeed – he played flute to a high standard at school, and has an excellent tenor voice. And, recently he decided to take up the trumpet, so I was really pleased when he recently asked me to accompany his grade 3 exam. To be fair, my piano part was pretty straightforward – something I could sight read – and I knew that Matthew would be well on top of his part. So, all we had to do was keep an eye on each other and the whole thing would go exactly to plan.
As soon as we arrived in the room, the examiner today helped put us at ease, making small talk with Matthew about how he was her third adult candidate of the day. This casual approach to instrumental examinations isn’t really the norm – I’ve been in far too many rooms with examiners who speak to (even very young) candidates in a far too formal and distant a manner. So, it’s a credit to today’s examiner that she did her best to help calm any nerves: she wasn’t to know how confident Matthew and I were, so her efforts were much appreciated.
And, when Matthew’s exam was over, there was another treat in store for me: one of my piano students at South Craven, Dexter, had his grade 1 exam next. So, I had the opportunity to chat with him before he went in, and to meet his Mum in the waiting room. Dexter seemed pretty confident and calm too, and he had every reason to be – he can play all three of his pieces fluently and with expression, he has found the aural assessments to pose little challenge over the past few weeks, and he knows all his scales. The only part of the exam that he was concerned about was the sight reading, and I assured him that he should just look at the two signatures (key and time), get his hands in position (they never move from their opening position at grade 1), then get playing and don’t stop for anything! I hope he took this advice and I look forward to finding out how it went when I see him at school on Wednesday.