9 Actionable Practice Methods to Ensure You Pass Your Music Exams

When it comes to excelling at school, some subjects require a more constant and continuous work ethic than others. For business economics or geography, you could (and we’re not suggesting that you should), cram the week or even the night before, and still achieve a passing grade. When it comes to music, however, the only way to excel is through consistent practice.

If you haven’t played in a few months, and you’ve got an exam coming up, then there is a good chance that you will not do as well as you would like. So, does that mean that you need to play 4-hours a day every day to do well? We asked one of our in-store music teachers, and he said that students need to understand the difference between playing their instrument and practising.

Playing an instrument is selecting a few of your favourite songs that you already play well and running through them. While this is an excellent method for building and remembering your repertoire, it won’t help you to improve new pieces.

Practising, on the other hand, is the structured method you use to learn new and perfect in-progress songs. The main difference is that when practising, you might end up playing the same song or the same few bars for hours on end.

Let’s take a look at nine actionable practice techniques you can start using to ensure that you pass your music exams.

1) Listen to all the Songs in Your Syllabus

To perfect a song for a music exam, you ideally want to get to a point where you can play it flawlessly. That will mean that you will hear the song hundreds of times; this will be through a combination of listening to the source music, and you playing it repeatedly.

Can you imagine worse torture than being forced to play a song you hate, for hours of your life, just to pass an exam?

If you want to perfect your song, make sure that you like it. That is why you should listen to every song in your syllabus before deciding on your set.

Some grading schools like Trinity RockSchool will give you a CD or provide downloadable .mp3s for you to use as source material. Short of that, you can try YouTube or your music teacher.

One of the issues that plague music students when they first start is that sheet music can often seem more complicated than it is. To ensure that you don’t unfairly bias yourself against a potentially great song, try to avoid looking at the sheet music when selecting your pieces. Rather sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and listen to each song a few times. Once you’ve done that you can make your selection, and ensure that you stick with it.

2) Breakdown Your Timeline

Learning new music can often seem like a challenge, so to make your life easier, set yourself a timeline with specific deadlines. In an ideal world, you’ll have all three of your songs perfected a month before you play your exam so that you have ample time to polish everything.

A major pitfall to avoid is being too ambitious, so be sure to be realistic with your timeline. If you have three intricate pieces to learn, you most likely won’t get them ready in a week or two. And if you set yourself deadlines that you can’t meet, you are setting yourself up for failure.

If you aren’t sure when your exams are, ask your teachers when the rough date for your exams are. If you are working through Trinity or Royal Schools, the exam usually takes place around June and November each year. For these institutions, you will need to know all your pieces for the exam.

But, if you’re taking high school music, your exams will be more frequent, but you’ll only need to perfect your pieces by the end of year exams. By the mid-year exams you’ll usually only need two pieces polished.

3) Break Down Your Songs

If you had to memorise a book, would you read the book a hundred times, cover to cover, and hope for the best. Or would you break the book into chapters and try to memorise each chapter?

A majority of people would do the latter; the same concept applies to learning new songs. Instead of playing through each song from beginning to end, instead, break the song into manageable chunks.

By doing so, you can learn where elements repeat, and you can identify which phrases and bars are going to be the most challenging.

Once you break the song down, you can add each section to your deadline.

To perfect a song, play each section until it is perfect at 60% of the tempo. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t play something slow, you’ll be messy playing it fast. Another great tip is to avoid moving to a new section until you’ve mastered the one you’re on.

Once you’ve got two sections you can play, you need to start focusing on your transitions.

4) Speed it Up

Once you’ve got the song perfected at 60% of its tempo, you can start to speed it up. Getting a piece up to speed is seldom a linear exercise. In other words, you shouldn’t go from 60% to 70% to 80% etc. Instead, you want to play faster, then slower, then faster.

A good way to think about this is 10% up, 5% down. So go from a 60% tempo to 70%, then drop back to 65%, then move up to 75%, until you’re playing the piece at 105% of its tempo.

But why play faster than the assigned tempo?

If you want to flourish as a musician, you should never play at your limit. So if you can just about play a song at 100%, then you will be pushing yourself too hard in a high-stress environment. By ensuring that you can play the song at 105%, you can be sure that you are comfortable when it matters most.

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5) Memorise Your Songs

Even if you can play with your sheet music during an exam, it’s imperative that you memorise your songs. By committing the songs to memory, you will feel more comfortable playing them live.

But don’t think that because you’ve memorised a song, you shouldn’t play with the sheet music as well. As you play along, get into the habit of following along as you play. That will ensure that you’re not memorising mistakes.

And since exams are usually a high-stress environment, you want to give yourself every advantage.

6) Learn the Theory

Most new musicians aren’t aware of the full impact that music theory has on their ability to play well. Theory lessons will accompany most formal music lessons.

As you learn the theory around scales, chords, harmony, and so on, look at the songs you’re learning, and see how the theory applies. By understanding the theory, you can learn to anticipate better where a song is moving to, which will, in turn, help you to memorise your songs.

7) Play in Front of a Mirror (If Possible)

If you play something like the violin or guitar, a good practice habit to adopt is playing in front of a mirror. By watching yourself play, you can identify techniques related to errors that you need to work that you might have missed otherwise.

8) Play for Friends and Family

If you’re not used to playing in front of people, playing an exam will stress you out. So, to help alleviate your stage fright, play for your friends and family.

Not only will this help you get used to performing your songs for an audience, but the people watching can also offer you some critique and help you to improve.

9) Record Yourself

The final tip we have for you to ensure that you can pass your music exams is to record yourself. By recording yourself, you can listen to your playing, and identify what areas need improvement.

The most important thing here is to be critical of your playing. Your friends and family aren’t equipped (even if they’re musicians) to help you to identify every error in your playing. Even your teacher might miss something.

By listening to yourself play, especially if you play with headphones, you can better find your weaknesses.

Conclusion

The new year has just started for most music students, but that doesn’t mean you can take it easy. If you want to do well in your end of year exams, start preparing for them now. If you implement all the tips above and put in the required amount of time, you will pass your exams.

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One of your responsibilities will be to work as a relief admin assistant at our Claremont and N1 City stores, so you must have reliable transport, and be willing to travel.

General Purpose

Maintain a professional and friendly entry point to the general public, customers, dealers and suppliers, both telephonically and face-to-face.

Perform allocated administrative tasks as required.

Below is a list of your main job tasks and responsibilities (and any other duties as directed from time to time).

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We are looking for a hardworking, experienced, motivated end energetic Studio Executive, with a proven track record to work in our N1 City Superstore.

Duties:

As a sales consultant, you will be in direct contact with customers and as such, will be required to deliver excellent service. It is essential that the candidate is proficient in all things studio and home recording, with a good working knowledge of AV equipment and microphones.

You must be willing to work retail hours, weekends and public holidays.

To apply, please email your CV and cover letter to :
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We are looking for a hardworking, experienced, motivated end energetic Keyboard and Piano specialist, with a proven track record to work in our N1 City Superstore.

Duties:

As a sales consultant, you will be in direct contact with customers and as such, will be required to deliver excellent service. It is essential that the candidate is proficient in all things keyboard and piano related, with a good working knowledge of home, studio recording.

You must be willing to work retail hours, weekends and public holidays.

To apply, please email your CV and cover letter to :
Carelv@bothner.co.za

For some people, music is all about technical mastery and learning songs written by various composers. But most musicians want to perfect the instrument in a way that allows them to express themselves through song.

There is a misconception among many people that unless you’re a natural-born songwriter, you’ll never really be any good at it. This is, of course, simply not true.

If you want to be a songwriter, you only need to do two things.

1) Learn the fundamentals of music theory and the rules of writing songs.
2) Practice. Remember that the first few hundred songs you write won’t be “the best” songs ever, but that’s why you need to keep working on it.

We can’t help you much with the second point, but if you want to learn the fundamentals of songwriting, then you should consider enrolling in the Cape Town School of Songwriting.

For more information, please contact Elaine Ridgway (082 7773133) or email clive@songwriters.co.za

Offering lessons in:
Vocal, Guitar, Piano, Drums, Bass Guitar, Violin, Cello, Saxophone, Oboe, Clarient, & Flute, and with lessons available in Bryanston, Fourways, Centurion and Kemptopn Park, the Global House of Music is your one stop music lesson option in the Joberg area. They even offer home lessons. Check out there website to make a booking or call them directly on: 083 959 3782

Music is about way more than solo acts. School of Rock Claremont is as focused on community, teamwork, and friendships as it is on inspiring awesome music. Through our performance-based approach, we foster an inclusive community of rockers in Claremont to build a unique type of confidence only gained through cool, real life experiences. Whether we’re in serious shredding-mode or just jamming along with the band, our team spurs the growth of real, practical skills for music-minded students.

At School of Rock Claremont, we believe everyone deserves to have fun and feel like a rock star. Visit us and get a feel for the awesome opportunities your child has waiting just around the corner.

The Athlone Academy of Music (AAM) is a non-profit organisation established in 1994 with the sole aim of providing music tuition within the Athlone area. This initiative has now expanded and has grown to include the greater Athlone community residing along the Klipfontein corridor including Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Retreat, Steenberg, Atlantis and Malmesbury to name but a few. The communities in and around Athlone have tried but there has not always been a cohesive attempt to make sure that music education is not lost to our children. Music tuition has shown to help with discipline, motivation and a sense of belonging. Three basic values that children from the poorer disadvantaged communities need plenty of. We all know that these communities suffer under the scourge of substance abuse, disease, abuse against women and children and a general decay of the social fibre in society. This social decay is largely a result of unemployment, poverty and idleness. We at the Academy feel obliged to create opportunities for children in the communities we serve to be active in music education and in so doing, eradicate some of the social pathologies we are faced with on a daily basis.

Rockschool is the leading accredited provider of rock & pop exams worldwide. We offer Graded Music Exams in the principal rock instruments and Diplomas in Teaching and Performance. Rockschool produces and examines unique music qualifications that are taught by independent teachers in schools, colleges and music centres all over the world. Rockschool music qualifications are practical, flexible and fun and are open to musicians of all ages and abilities.

The Gryphon Music Academy is a guitar school based in Plumstead, Cape Town. We offer guitar lessons, bass lessons, song writing courses and music theory courses Our Motto is “Turning players into musicians”. At the Gryphon Music Academy we believe in teaching players of all levels to not just play the instrument, but to think about the entire scope of the instrument in the context of music. Besides learning the practical side of playing, you will also learn music theory, song writing and instrument maintenance.

Do you have a desire to play the drums or improve your guitar skills or another band instrument? If so, then M&M is the perfect part-time Music Academy for you. We have students that attend the academy from the Parklands, Table View, West Beach, Melkbos and Milnerton area. We offer musical training in all the popular band instruments from beginner to advanced. Why don’t you visit the “Instrument” tab to learn more about our drum, guitar, bass, piano/keyboard or vocal courses. We also offer a full digital recording studio operating on Cubase, Presonus, Rode and Alesis equipment, should you wish to lay some music tracks or follow your personal development at M&M.

Beau Soleil offers tuition on all the instruments of the orchestra, namely flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, trombone, French horn, euphonium, tuba and percussion. An Open Evening is held once a year, during which most of the instruments are demonstrated and prospective pupils and parents have an opportunity to learn more about Beau Soleil. A number of these instruments are available for hire for a limited period.

SoundHouse is a music educational vision. Designed not only to educate microcosmically but to facilitate the teaching of musical concepts through music technology. A particular focus of this vision is on music experimentation, composition, learning and recording, digital media, such as picture stories, music videos and digital mash-ups.

In De Kuilen street Kuilsriver, the average passer-by may be pleasantly surprised by what is heard when passing number 15. This building houses a premier music school within the community: Cape Music Institute. The sounds of guitar, bass-guitar, drums, keyboards, saxophones, and voices fill the air, making it an educational, entertaining and fun atmosphere. The concept of Cape Music Institute was birthed during a meeting in 2005 between Camillo Lombard, Ezra Delport, and Gary Thomas and, is currently in its fourth year of existence. Each individual contributed his own vision and ideas of what the school should be and, the outcome was a combined vision of a higher education school of music, emphasized in three categories: performance, production and business. The “seed” for Cape Music Institute, however, had been “planted” in the three Founders independently.

With studios in Cape Town & Johannesburg and branches in Lagos and Dar Es Salaam, Sound & Motion Studios is a multi-purpose audio solution covering both POST PRODUCTION AND MUSIC PRODUCTION. With a team of highly skilled engineers, producers and composers in our stable, our facilities offer analogue warmth and character, guaranteed through beautiful mixing consoles and tape machines, that forms the soul of music productions, as well as the digital accuracy and recall requirements for film, tv and corporate productions.

Tunes is a rehearsal studio that acts in the interest of local music by providing affordable practice space, good quality reference rehearsal recordings, drum lessons and retailing in musical accessories including guitar strings, drumsticks and larger items that can be ordered from Paul Bothner. We recently added new items to our stock such as drum skins, cymbals, guitar and bass pedals. We also stock electric, acoustic and bass guitars.

Tunes is open for bookings seven days a week from 08h00 to 24h00. Bookings can be made by contacting Jean on 082 7704798 or by e-mail, tunesstudio@gmail.com

CCFM (Cape Community FM) is a 24-hour, non-profit, community radio station serving the people of Cape Town. We play a mix of contemporary Christian music, combined with compelling chat, views and interviews. Not to mention up-to-the-minute news, weather and traffic information. CCFM was the first community radio station and has been on the airwaves for over 18 years, starting as Radio Fish Hoek in 1993. We currently broadcast from our building in Muizenberg on 107.5 FM in the Greater Cape Town and on 96.7 FM in the Fish Hoek valley.

NueLight Productions is the brainchild and passion of Julita Kok. NueLight produces superb musical showcases bringing the very best of South African talent to the fore. Producer of showcases such as ‘Christmas with GOD TV’, Blue Rock Gospel Fest, BAHI Healing Concert and many others, NueLight is definitely making its mark on the international and local Christian Music Industry. Entrepreneur, producer, events coordinator and artist developer, Julita Kok, an accomplished vocalist herself, has made excellence a priority for NueLight, its artists and productions. Maintaining this high calibre by associating with the crème dela crème of the Christian Music Industry.

Established in 2006, The Nameless Pub has become a well known ‘watering hole”, function venue and leading live music venue in Somerset West. With big screen TV’s, DJ’s, live bands, indoor as well as outdoor venues, 2 stages, air conditioning and a fire place, we can host any party or function in any season or you can just come and enjoy.

Celebrating 16 years at the Baxter Concert Hall, the Festival will showcase a number of schools colleges and community big bands and special guest artists will be participating in the four day Festival.

The Mercury is a top class music venue in Cape Town, right up the road from the Cape Technikon and close to the city itself. Incorporating two venues playing a large mix of music, it is one of the best places in Cape Town to hear South African tunes.

This venue is actually two in one: the Live and the Lounge areas. With its own in-house sound and lighting system, the Mercury has built a superb reputation and a loyal clientele during its 10-year existence.

Located in the old historic area of District Six, also known as Zonnebloem, it hosts live music entertainment ranging in style from rock, hip-hop and pop to jazz, world music and electronica.

Mercury’s upstairs Live venue has a capacity of over 600, and has seen most of South Africa’s top acts perform on its stage. Foosball and pool tables provide a diversion in between performances. With regular specials and promotions on offer, it’s a firm favourite with live music aficionados.

The smaller, downstairs Lounge venue has capacity for approximately 150 people, and hosts DJ parties and student nights on certain evenings. Staying open till the wee hours, the lounge is also a favourite late-night dancing and chill-out spot for patrons from other clubbing venues nearby.

Owned by former band and road manager Kevin Winder, the Mercury has a solid reputation for providing the best quality sound in a convenient and well-equipped venue. This ethos extends to making sure that only the best bands, both established and up-and-coming, are invited to play, resulting in top quality music nights.

The venue has a relaxed and friendly vibe, with good security and, a rarity amongst live music venues, excellent service. Dedicated to supporting South African music, it’s one of the best live music venues in the country.

Aandklas is a Rock Bar created for people who love their music and socialising with friends in an awesome atmosphere. Aandklas is also a live music venue that hosts big South African bands and give up and coming bands the opportunity to reach bigger audiences. All and all it is just an awesome venue to come and have a couple of drinks and enjoy the Stellenbosch culture.

BULLETSCRIPT is a band with a clear message – open your eyes to the world around you, and question everything, taking nothing, and nobody, for granted.

The band consists of a full compliment of seasoned performers from the Cape Town metal scene. A band that enjoys pushing the envelope, placing great emphasis on solid song writing, stellar stage performance and a delivery so intense that your neck will be in a constant state of headbanging ecstasy.

Combining the skills of Ian Watson (Vocals), Jacques Hugo (Guitar), Oliver Saggerson (Guitar), JJ du Toit (Bass) and Kyle Curran (Drums), BULLETSCRIPT is ready to spread the word, take no prisoners and have a great time!

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A high energy electronicore band focused on bombastic theatrical performances, Set For The Sky have been making waves all across the local scene with electric live performances and a high quality sound. Consummate professionals, they have been gigging since 2013 and have continued to grow their name in the South African music market, with a highly acclaimed debut album, “The Machine”, released in 2015 and two video singles “Live Like You’re on Fire” and “The Secret Season”.

They have played numerous shows around the country including slots on many festivals and tours, they do not settle for mediocre, whether in their performance or their music, and will continue to provide an exceptional experience for their fans.

Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website

Follow Louise on Facebook or check out her website.

After discovering that he loved writing songs in high school and taking some guitar lessons, Jesse could sense that he was embarking on a journey to follow his dreams.

Jesse has had a career that many singer-songwriters would love. He has pursued his music with single-minded determination, and it has definitely paid off.

One of his first big miles stones on his journey was winning a national talent competition. After that there was no stopping Jesse! Not only did he get a mjor record deal, but Jesse went on to form the Jesse Jordan Band. The Jesse Jordan Band consisted of Alex Power on keys, Heindrich Schultz on guitar, JP Crouch on drums and Sheree Power on Rhythm guitar.

So far Jesse has managed to record four albums, but that’s just a start! He’s still in the prime of his career, and it would seem as though nothing is slowing him down.

Over the years he has played countless live shows; ranging from music festivals and parties to selling out venues. He has honed his skill as a performer and audiences always leave with a smile on their faces. Jesse is known to give 150% to every performance!

After years with the Jesse Jordan Band, Jesse has started a new solo journey. It’s just him, a guitar and his life experiences. He has spent the last two years writing new songs which explore the lessons he’s learned on his journey.

This new solo project is all about story-telling in the style of old-school singer-songwriters and bluesmen. It’s raw, personal and real. In his music, you will find a hint of Michael Buble meets Maroon5, but the sound is still unmistakably Jesse Jordan.

Faith Endorsement

In September 2017 Jesse Jordan was officially endorsed by Faith Guitars and Paul Bothner Music.

Faith guitars all have a rich and unique tone which perfectly matches the rawness of Jesse’s stories. It is a perfect partnership of tone and perfection.

To keep up with Jesse, go to his Facebook page or website and give him a like and a listen.

This hip, young virtuoso started playing piano at the age of four!! To his fans this would come as no surprise! Kyle is a well-schooled prodigy… He went on to study piano and voice as subjects, before leaving for Greece, as a youth, where he performed on the Olympia Countess, as it sailed around the globe!! He’s been musical director to many productions, at venues such as the Cape Town International Convention Center and Grand West Casino, amongst many others.

He’s also a producer, session musician, highly trained vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and has had lots of radio airplay. The Kyle Petersen Band features his university trained brother, session star, Darren Petersen, who’s also travelled and performed, much like Kyle.

Follow Kyle on Facebook or check out his website.

Reuben is a super drummer, with a history of achievements that read like the biography of a legend in the making! He studied at Beau Soleil’s Music Centre, completing his Trinity Grade 6 drum kit studies, with Distinction! He went on to study at the South African College of Music, at The University of Cape Town.

He performed with the Standard Bank National Schools’ Big Band, in 2007, and at Paul Bothner’s Drum Day, in 2010. He drummed for the North Sea Big Band, in 2010, and followed up by performing at the prestigious Cape Town International Jazz Festival, with Spha Mdlalose. Other notable work includes an appearance on Idols star Unathi’s album, entitled: ‘With Love’, and on Sowers of the Word’s debut album: ‘God of Wonders’. He has a background in Rock, Pop, Swing, Latin jazz, Bebop jazz, R ‘n’ B, Hip Hop and Gospel, in live performance, studio session work and educationally.

He currently performs with the Jimmy Nevis band, electro-pop quartet TheCity and SA ska band Trenton and Free Radicals.

Contact Details

To book Ruby Crowie as a session musician or simply for additional information, please email kim.muller@hotmail.com

If you like the tuneful use of light and shade like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, or any rock with that remarkable heaviness, grounded in performance and riffage, not sheer volume, you’ll love Taxi Violence.
If you’ve heard Zeppelin’s John Bonham’s beats and the multi-guitar, low-end, V8-revving tone of a guitarist whom wields an axe, not a tennis racket, you’ll need to watch Taxi Violence live. Ever felt like you’ll never get to hear those bands because ‘someone’ said there’s no market for it here? They lied! Join the throng! “Taxi Violence smashed onto the scene as a breath of fresh, raw exuberance without the need for any fancy ‘post’ this, or ‘neo’ that or cute little words like ‘alt’ or ‘indie’ necessary to define them. The result is that after seven years together, their sound is still a timeless ode to what they do best… rocking out!” – Dave Mac (Muse Magazine).
Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website.

This crew began in 2007 as an evolution of punk band HOAX. it’s now its own thing. Completely.They have been linked to a lot of things, they’ve worked with a lot of people, they’ve made a lot of friends. Words to describe their music and, experience and work ethic include “innovative” , “Earl Grey”, “guerrilla”, “disco Something”, “retro rock” and “melody” amongst others. That’s no joke.Along with a cult following that trend to turn their sentence into acronym and get the dance floor riled up, The Plastics set out to take over the world, or at least play some darn good gigs along the way.2008 saw the release of the bands first EP The Plastics followed closely by another one; Kiss The Plastics (2009). Both distributed among Cape Town’s indie elite and head bangers for free. for more information on the band click here.

 

Follow the band on Facebook or check out their website

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