5 tips to prepare your final exams

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We are starting a new academic year now and I am sure that many music students are starting to prepare their final bachelor or master recitals. I have passed through many exams of this type so yes, I know what I am talking about and how it feels! I even prefer competitions. Final exams are very stressfull, all the teachers and your friends are going to be there and you will feel naked. You can’t play bad this day.  The fact you are asked to play the most technically demanding pieces of the repertoire is also not helpful: Bach, etudes, classical sonatas… you can’t choose. So, here are some advices how to prepare successfully.

  • Don’t practice too much: if you are used to practice 5 hours a day, don’t do 8! Your body is used to this routine, and practicing more will just cause more tensions or concentrations problems. You would probably not even survive more than 2 or 3 days and then you would need a 3 days break. I prepared my final master recital practicing 4 hours a day, I knew the program and just needed to practice slow, in details and with full attention.
    Of course, if you are used to your 8 hours behind the keyboard, don’t change!  ;-)
  • Perform in public: you may know your Beethoven sonata so well that you can sing it in your shower upside down, live performance is necessary to check how you feel, what you can still correct and be aware of the feelings on stage. If your teacher doesn’t organize class auditions often enough, you can even play for some of your friends or organize your own concert, if your university allows that.
  • Get used to the stage: your exams won’t be in one of the practice rooms or in your bedroom where you are used to play all day. I highly recommend you to do more than one acoustic check of the hall where you will perform. Many times, just the fact of imagining yourself playing in a 200 seats big concert hall will seriously freak you out!  You should feel confortable and concentrate on your pieces instead of thinking   »Gosh, how I feel lonely on this huge stage… »
  • Take one free day: one week before my master recital, I decided to go for a walk, enjoy life and forget my stress. I was in Salzburg where it is very easy to be surrounded by nice landscapes and to breathe fresh air, so it was perfect. If you study in a bigger city or if the weather is bad, just do something else that to relax: spend a day watching TV, go to the cinema, to the spa or whatever you feel like, just disconnect. The last days before your exam are very important to fix the last details and you will be grateful to this little break so you can practice again with a fresh energy.
  • Be healthy : it sounds quite logical but I know how student life is (hum!) , either you are a nerd and then, good for you, but I have never been one and it’s always hard to resist if your friends invite you to a student party or just for a few beers. Let the party for after. If you are tired of your practice room, better do some sport and try to cook something healthier than your old fatty frozen pizza with less vitamins than a piece of wood. Eat fruits!

Good luck, I’m sure you will rock!!!! :-D


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