Why graded music exam?

Why spent the money, time, and stressful schedule on a graded music exam?

In my opinion, graded exam offers a great syllabus to learning pianist.

piano tutor Puchong
Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash

1. Perfection

Examination prompt us to push ourself to perfection.

The basic request for ABRSM is note accuracy and tonality. To pass the exam with minimum marks, we are asked to play as accurately as possible.

This is a quality quite difficult to harness if we are practicing without goal.

2. The big picture

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing


Every time we flip open a new syllabus, we concluded that the composers were out of their mind.

The syllabus made us see how creative the composer can be, what their 10 fingers can create on a limited 88 keys piano.

And this fact would accompany us throughout our music life/career: on creating infinity songs with limited 10 fingers and 88 keys. We would be reminded on possibilities, on what we can still make and contribute to the music industry.

With every grade completed, the syllabus unveiling more challenges and task for us to unlock. So we are not flying to the top at one shot, but getting there level by level.

We always started the first bar with disbelief, and 12 months later play the same music with our same 10 fingers, same confusion and bewilderment that we had completed learning the song. Its amazing.

3. History of music

why graded music exam?
Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash

Over the course we played generally Classic songs, baroque songs, and modern songs.

Most pianist don’t like classic songs. They are comparably less interesting to the other groups.

Exam forces us to learn one classic songs every year. From there we can observe how music changes over time, what was added and taken away as years go by.

Most songs written in the classical era where the piano doesn’t even exist yet.

A Mozart song may sound customary today, but knowing that it was first of its kind during its era, it is extraordinary how the music industry evolve.

Jazz wasn’t invented until the late 19th. Another thing the composer created with our limited 88 keys, or 12 music notes.

4. On learning Scales and Arpeggio

The seemingly boring but dead useful scales and arpeggios.

Basically all theory answers can be found within scales and arpeggio, if you look close enough.

Why practice scales:

  1. it trains your fingering, hand posture
  2. vocal / hearing
  3. widen your knowledge on how music is made
  4. boost confidence

This section made up 30 out of the full 150 marks.

We practice scales and arpeggio, even though it’s boring, because it is also easier compare to all other sections in the exam.

Imagine your mom wants you to eat your orange. You don’t like orange all that much, but you’ll just eat it so your mom would shut up. 18 Years later you’re told orange might be the greatest fruit to hit your vitamin and minerals jackpot. Orange could be the main reason you’re healthy as you are and did not end up with ugly teeth like the Caribbean sailors.

5. Deadline

Yes I hate deadlines. I also cannot disagreed that the world runs smoother with deadlines.

I’ve train students that were not interested with exam.

The common problems found:

  1. lack of practice (there’s no deadline anyway)
  2. move on to the next song as soon as a tune can be heard, never to perfection
  3. never bother scales and arpeggio
  4. not interested on composing songs

6. Honestly its the best for the student, the teacher, the parents

With graded exam and consistent training, its a guarantee the student learn something every year.

For the student: new skills and knowledge every year, step by step learning.

For the Teacher: refer to the top 5 points above.

For the parents: for sure my kids had pick up three new songs and some other stuff this year. A certification as bonus.

You worry about your child don’t get to learn their favourite pieces?

Don’t be. If she can play a grade 4 Mozart piece with ease, she can pick up let it go within a day.

Why graded music exam?

Check out our free music sheets for beginner here.


No 10, Jalan Sierra 8/5, Sierra 16, 47100 Puchong, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

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