Choosing a right programme for your piano diploma exam sets the right path for ultimate success.
How do you choose your programme then? And how do you know if the programme is right for you and the exam purpose?
1. READ THE SYLLABUS
Follow the guidelines strictly is the first and foremost key to success in your piano exam.
You must read the syllabus carefully.
If you are the teacher, read the syllabus!
If you are the candidate, read the syllabus too! Do not rely on your teacher to do the work. There are so many details in the syllabus that your teacher just cannot explain everything to you in your lessons (although of course the teacher is equally responsible here).
The details include the prerequisites to enter each diploma exam, the time limit and choices of the recital programme, the word count and format of the programme notes etc etc. Always refer to the syllabus for clarification. And you get get a physical copy from the board itself – they will mail it to you upon request.
2. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE RECITAL PROGRAMME
Some candidates may choose to play all of the pieces from all four different musical periods, while others three out of the four, depending on timing as well as one’s preference, musicality and technicality. So if the programme has three pieces, it is typically (but not confined to) Baroque- Classical-Romantic or Classical-Romantic- 20th-century.
You should bear in mind that it is not only the period that differentiates one piece from the other. It also depends on the genre and the style of the piece. Generally, you would want to include a bigger sonata piece as the centre piece of the programme (it is not compulsory but common choice). Then from there you think about how to balance it with pieces of other styles/periods/varieties.
3. CHOOSE THE PIECES ACCORDING TO YOUR ABILITY
In order to achieve the best result in the exam, you must choose the pieces that shows different spectrum and the best of your technicality and musicality.
Do not just choose some pieces because they are “easy” to handle so you can practice less, or “difficult” only to show how fast you can move your hands. The programme must show your best ability in delivering substance and variety of skills and understanding in the playing and music.
How do I choose for my students then?
I always like to choose for my students a lighter shorter piece to start the whole programme, something with separate sections/movements that stops in between, to gently ease themselves into the recital process. If the student is of higher level of technicality, I would choose a more technical and fun short piece at the end to show off their virtuosity. If the student is more musically expressive, I make sure s/he has a piece to showcase that side of playing ability as well.
The choice is limitless. But you must choose accordingly.
I welcome any questions regarding the piano diploma exams.