E-exams! E for excellent!

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If you have ever completed a practical music exam (where you play test pieces and technique on an instrument), then you know that apprehensive feeling as you walk into a room with a complete and total stranger to bare your soul with the pieces you have been working to perfect for months. You may understand the worry of being late for your exam, having to wake up at 5:30am to get ready so that you can make the hour long drive to the examination centre…or maybe a two or three hour trek! You would know how badly your teacher would like to be present to hear your performance as you are tested when they can’t work their schedule around all the exams of their students. You may also understand how difficult it is to wait until a June exam session for testing when your pieces and technique are ready to go in April!

Well the amazing people at Conservatory Canada have an answer for all of the above issues – the e-exam!

Just a few short weeks ago I had five students try this new method of testing with fantastic reviews and results!

Conservatory Canada’s e-exams have been designed for students who may live in areas where it is difficult to set up a traditional exam site. Some students were having to travel great distances in order to be tested. With an e-exam, students can be tested in their home studio or another location that is close to home. The unexpected perks of this type of exam are that the conservatory is able to schedule exams at any time of year,  young students who may be very shy or wary of strangers feel more at ease since they have some distance from the examiner and results are issued very quickly since the examiner is working right from the conservatory office. Finally, the teacher can be in the room while the exam is taking place if they are facilitating the exams.

How does it work?

The conservatory contacted me ahead of time to schedule the exams on a day that would work for both the examiner and myself. We set up a training session (in my own studio) so I could learn how to use the software.  I downloaded some midi software which was provided by the conservatory.  My piano was connected to my laptop, and the examiner and students communicated through Skype. The midi software allowed our pianos to be connected so that when the children would play, the sound would come through her piano’s speakers (not through Skype). When the examiner would play her piano for aural test purposes, the sound would come through my piano’s speakers. In addition, there was a keyboard on the bottom of the screen that would show the keys being depressed as well as the pedal usage.

I sat on the other side of the room to be on hand in case there was a Skype glitch which happened on occasion, (but was easily fixed) and I was there to present the sight-reading examples and give a hug when the exam was complete. The children were very much at ease. They found the experience to be positive and enjoyable. I found the process very smooth and it honestly felt like the examiner was right in the room with us.

I have some students who love the idea of going into the city for the day, playing on a different (often baby grand) piano, meeting someone new and I am sure those students will continue to request “in-person” exams. For other students, I know this new convenient option using technology will be a preferred option.

Way to go Conservatory Canada! www.conservatorycanada.ca

 

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