Grade exams - what for?


Quite a question.

There are fine singers who have never taken an exam and there are also well-qualified singers who cannot be relied upon to turn in a satisfactory performance. It seems to me that whatever grade exams are measuring, it's not performing ability, nor is it technical prowess (discussion with one exam board is pending…). As the examiners only get a snapshot of a candidate's singing, consistency cannot be taken into account. After quite a chew, I've come to the following possible reasons for doing grade exams:

1. To meet the requirements of some other desired goal - e.g., college entrance

2. To provide a needed target/delivery date to stimulate work!

3. To stall independent learning and avoid taking more responsibility for one's singing development!

These are perfectly valid reasons, and for some singers, grade exams are helpful milestones along the way. Developing one's musical skills is much broader than passing exams, though - it is unfortunate when exams themselves become the goal.

April 2020