While not every student who signs up for cello lessons in Singapore do so with the end goal of acing their ABRSM cello exams, many Singaporean students do. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) exams are an internationally recognized standard for assessing musical proficiency and achieving a high score can be a rewarding accomplishment. Here are some tips on how to score better for the cello ABSRM exams in Singapore.
First of all, you should start preparing for the ABRSM cello exams well in advance. This is especially the case for Singaporeans because of their busy school or work schedule. Sometimes you cannot get in those practice sessions. By starting your preparation earlier, it is more likely that you can get in the necessary amount of practice before your ABRSM exams. The earlier you begin, the more time you will have to master the required repertoire, develop technique and work on areas that need improvement. This also gives you more leeway to correct any kind of ingrained muscle memory mistakes when it comes to playing the cello because that takes time.
Second of all, you should select a repertoire which showcases your strengths and suits your playing style. While it is ideal to pick songs which you like and also can play well, if you had to pick one, make sure to prioritize the pieces which you are competent on. Your goal is to ace the exams in Singapore, so playing well is more important than necessarily enjoying the piece the most. After acing the exams, you can play any songs you want. Practice each piece thoroughly, paying attention to dynamics, phrasing, and musicality. Aim to perform the pieces with confidence and expression.
All of the great cellists in Singapore have amazing technical skills when it comes to playing the cello. They have practised it perfectly and for so many times that it has become muscle memory for them. For you to also ace the ABRSM cello exams, you need to have lots of these technical skills practice sessions on the cello a lot of times. Technical exercises and scales are an integral part of the cello ABSRM exams. Practice scales, arpeggios, and exercises with precision and control. Focus on intonation, bowing technique, and articulation. Gradually increase the speed and accuracy of your playing. A solid technical foundation will enhance your overall performance. Great technical cello playing skills will also help you score better in all other aspects of the exams.
It is very crucial that you practise under exam-like conditions. Recreate the exam environment during practice sessions. Set aside specific time slots to simulate the exam duration. Perform your pieces, scales, and sight-reading in one uninterrupted session. This will help you develop endurance and concentration. Many Singaporean cellists who play well at home but not so well at exams experience that because they are too nervous during the actual exam. To overcome this, always give yourself pressure even during normal sessions, so you do not feel it during the actual tests in Singapore.