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  • Stuart Barr

Easing up those Exam Nerves!

Exams are by no means a compulsory part of learning a music instrument, but are often a useful way to show progress, as well as sometimes helping to motivate young musicians. However, more often than not, children do experience some nervousness surrounding these assessments.

Continue reading for Team Practissimo's top tips, for both teachers and parents!​

1. Fuel Up

For parents, it is important that your child eats, drinks and sleeps well in the run-up to their music exam. Tiredness and feeling low will make them feel more nervous before and during their exam, so make sure they get some rest and fuel up!

2. Preparation is Key

For teachers, in the run up to an exam, your student should be feeling sufficiently prepared, and calmer as a result. Perhaps this could involve a dress rehearsal or rehearsal in the same venue before the exam takes place?​

3. Visualisation

Try and encourage your child or student to visualise themselves in the exam situation, in order to get more comfortable and familiar with the set-up. Encourage them to perform with confidence each time, which is something they can replicate in the final performance or assessment.

4. Performance Practice

For teachers, perhaps organise a mock exam, or encourage your students to perform to one another, in order to build up confidence in playing in front of other people. ​

5. Breath Control

Perhaps something that is a little less obvious with string instruments, but a child's ability to control their breathing will also help them to control their nerves. Exercises such as breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth are a good place to start, and will help you child or student regain their composure.

6. Keep going

Encourage your child or student to keep going, even if they make a few mistakes. Make sure they are able to run through the piece, without stopping, or hesitating, even if something isn’t quite right - sometimes the examiner won't have even noticed! ​

7. Smile

Scientific research has proven that the act of smiling encourages the release of endorphins, which in turn will improve the child or student’s state of mind, and help them to relax.

8. Remember it's music

Encourage your child or student to remember the reasons why they started learning their instrument in the first place - to play! This is an opportunity for them to share their passion and all of their hard work with someone, and they should be excited to communicate their love for their instrument to the world!

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