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Helpful Hints

Your friendly AMEB team is here to help.

Your best starting point, however, is to get familiar with the appropriate AMEB Syllabus. This will ensure you are aware of, and have prepared, all requirements for your exam. The Syllabuses also include exam expectations and a wealth of information on topics such as music photocopies, page turning, accompanists, pencil markings and more.

Below are some of our best tips that we hope will help you in preparing for the big day.

If you still have questions, please contact us here at the AMEB Tasmania office.

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While AMEB exams are open to all ages, we acknowledge aim for best practice in child protection for those who are youngest, most vulnerable (and most prolific) candidates.

All AMEB Tasmania staff hold current Working with Vulnerable People checks and the selection processes for all team members include rigorous reference checks.

Please note that AMEB Supervisors are in attendance to ensure the smooth operations of exam days, provide assistance, and generally ensure all things are conducted in a safe manner. While they are attentive to the needs of everyone attending AMEB exams, the care and supervision of candidates under 18 remains the responsibility of parents/guardians at all times. This includes attendance at, and travel to and from, the exam venue, and any arrangements made for a responsible adult, other than the parent/guardian, to supervise on their behalf (for example the student's teacher).

Candidates and their guests are expected to abide by any instructions given by AMEB staff during an exam day - these instructions may be for your safety. AMEB staff may direct a person to leave the premises if they are deemed to be a concern to the safety or wellbeing of others, and/or the proper conduct of AMEB business.

Getting Started

Make sure you or your teacher are familiar with the syllabus requirements and that you’ve prepared accordingly. Regular practice of all sections of the exam ensures the best preparation. Teachers are advised to incorporate aural and sight-reading practice throughout regular lessons.

Scales, arpeggios and studies might seem like hard work (and, let’s face it, they can be boring) but the benefits of developing an accuracy of tuning, strong independent fingers or good vocal skills are quickly felt when tackling difficult passages in your pieces. Remember – all music is full of scales and intervals so give yourself a head start by making the scales second nature.

Make sure you know the feeling or mood you want to convey for each piece – the title of the piece will often give you a good clue but ask your teacher if you’re unsure. If you have a picture, story or emotion in your mind as you perform, you can make the music come to life for both yourself and the listener.

Successful candidates often have teachers who conduct small concerts or mock exams for their studios in the lead up to the exam date. These opportunities allow students to identify and address areas of weakness, and become familiar with any performance anxieties, prior to their assessment. They also provide the student with some trial runs to give both the teacher and student a realistic indication of how they might perform in their exam.

Don’t forget to print your Notification of Examination with the corresponding repertoire list, completed with the information of the pieces you are performing – you’ll need to print this document single-sided and bring both pages to the exam. Can't find your Notification? It's at your fingertips in Score. Find your exam and click the Actions button to view the Notification and print.

Playing From Memory

You are expected to memorise technical work. It is not a requirement in grade exams to play pieces from memory, although this is a good practice to get into, and is certainly encouraged. The Examiner will note where a piece has been memorised on the exam report. While memorising will not automatically mean an upgraded result, it will enhance the performance through greater confidence, and this will be recognised by the examiner.

Accompaniment

Working with Accompanists

If using an accompanist, candidates are responsible for arranging all rehearsals and exam attendance.

Recorded Accompaniments

Rockschool Syllabus is the exception to this section – please read Specialist section below.

Where AMEB recorded accompaniments are available, candidates may perform with those recordings as an alternative to using an accompanist, however it is the candidate's responsibility to provide and operate suitable equipment for the exam.We recommend that you practice with your recording regularly to develop an awareness of the accompaniment part, and how it fits with your own. Where candidates are performing with recorded accompaniments in an examination, they must use the '100%' or 'performance' tempo.Teachers and parents should be mindful of the candidate's age and technical ability when using recorded accompaniments. Equipment should be tested prior to the examination day to ensure it works. Please ensure speakers are of good quality so that the Examiner can comfortably hear the accompaniment.All electrical equipment should be tested and tagged prior to being plugged into an AMEB venue electrical supply.

Use of electronic or digital devices or resources

All equipment should be tested and tagged prior to being plugged into AMEB venue electrical supplies.It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that all of their own equipment is in working order and all resources are ready to go promptly at the start of their scheduled exam time.It is strongly suggested prior to attendance at the venue that candidates check/test that any devices or electronic or digital resources are working as intended, and where relevant, are compatible with any advertised AMEB requirements. This applies to laptops, tablets, PowerPoint presentations, speakers, recordings, or supporting resources of any kindCandidates should ensure they are very familiar with the equipment and know how to troubleshoot common issues to avoid delays in presentation.It is not the role of AMEB Supervisors or Examiners to provide IT or technical support. Practice with your accompanist as much as possible before the day of your exam. You will need to balance carefully with each other and the pianist will need to know your preferred speed for each piece. Provide your accompanist with a copy of your Notice of Examination so they are very clear about your exam grade, venue, room etc, so you both arrive punctually and well prepared for your exam. Please note that warm up rooms are not available at all venues and access is often limited where they are. Candidates should not expect to be able to rehearse with their accompanist ahead of their exam.

Checklist for Exam Day

  • Eat a good breakfast to fuel your day.
  • Make sure you've packed everything you need, including your sheet music, instrument, accessories (eg spare strings or reeds, foot rest, cleaner, mouthpiece, etc) and anything else you need to perform at your best.
  • Arrive at least 20 minutes prior to your exam time – all candidates must be ready at the time of their scheduled exam and there are a few registration items to attend to upon arrival (not to mention getting yourself mentally prepared). Lateness may result in the candidate forfeiting their examination, incurring a transfer fee to reschedule the examination.
  • Plan your journey to the exam venue well in advance and allow plenty of time for traffic delays. If you are commuting on public transport, check ahead of time for any potential disruptions to your service.
  • Dress appropriately in smart casual attire to show respect for both the performance situation and your examiner.
  • If you play an instrument that needs tuning or warming up, leave yourself extra time as there is no time in the exam to assemble or tune instruments. It is not the responsibility of the examiner to tune your instrument for you, so teachers should ensure that this is attended to beforehand.
  • A warm-up room may be available for higher grades at some venues, but this can not be guaranteed.
  • It is important that you bring your Notice of Examination and repertoire sheet with you – the Notification goes to the Exam Supervisor, and the repertoire goes to your Examiner.
  • Ensure that you (or your teacher) clearly write either Aural Tests or Sight Reading on your Notice of Examination if you are sitting for an examination in a For Leisure syllabus.
  • Make sure that all the pencil markings indicating keys or other information are rubbed out. Marks for fingering, bowing, and musical interpretation are perfectly fine to leave on the page.

All candidates sitting exams for Grade 8 and above (Grade 6 and up for Rockschool) must present photographic identification to the AMEB Supervisors on the day

Identification options are:

  • school identification card
  • university student card
  • passport
  • driver's license

If photographic identification is not provided on the day of the exam, candidates are required to email their ID to the AMEB Tasmania office within 48 hours of the exam. Exam results will be withheld if identification is not provided.

In the Exam Room

The Examiner, the candidate, and the accompanist are the only people permitted in the exam room, unless prior approval has been granted by AMEB (P Plate Piano is the only exception). The accompanist may only remain in the room during the pieces they are required for. String teachers may assist with tuning prior to the exam but please be mindful of the tight schedule for the day and do so as expediently as possible. We recommend taking the A from the exam piano and tuning your students while they wait.

Have all original music ready. Placing markers on the correct pages will help you find your pieces quickly. Even if playing from memory, you will need to have all the music with you to answer your general knowledge questions.

Any photocopies for the Examiner should be accompanied by the APRA AMCOS Form For Copied Music. For more information on the provisions of the Copyright Act, please refer to the APRA AMCOS website or email schools@apra.com.au.

Break a Leg

Examiners are invariably also teachers themselves so they appreciate your efforts in preparing for your exam. They're also human and lovers of music so they really do want to see you do well.

If your Examiner asks you to cut a piece short or tells you that your second extra list piece need not be presented, this is not necessarily due to poor performance on your part. It is far more likely that they have made this request because they have already heard enough of your program to form their assessment, or it may be due to time constraints.

Exams Aren't Meant to be Scary

Parents and guardians should be mindful of their own anxiety about exams as children are prone to pick up on this. Be sure to provide unconditional support, and encourage your child in a positive way regardless of the outcome.

The Exam Supervisor is there to help you on the day of your exam. Examiners and Supervisors alike are all lovely people and genuinely want you to give your best performance. Examiners understand that you may be nervous and take this into account.

The best advice for candidates is to practice sufficiently and know your pieces, and then relax and enjoy the experience of making music in your exam.

Above all, enjoy your studies and your performance opportunities, whether your goal is to become a professional musician or actor, a teacher, or to enjoy the subject as a hobby and creative outlet.

What Happens Next?

After Examiners complete their reports and return them to the office, the reports are double checked and uploaded to Score. When yours is ready, you'll receive a notification email and then you can log on and download your report. The report is visible to the Candidate and the Account Holder - this may be the teacher or the parent.

Certificates are dispatched to successful candidates a little while later. We process these in bulk at key points in the year, enabling us to prioritise your reports and other important customer service tasks. Candidates who have completed a senior Grade that requires a corequisite theory component will either receive their certificate or an email to advise them of the incomplete requirements. There's plenty of time to do that part - just make sure you let us know when it's complete so that we can get your certificate to you.

What if the day didn't quite go as planned?

Exams are a single snapshot of your musical journey and the report is a commentary of the point in your journey, as it is on that particular day at that time. Examiners assess your performance and fulfilment of the syllabus requirements as demonstrated during your exam - this is not a commentary on your general standard as a musician or your musical potential.

If you’re disappointed with your result, focus on the comments rather than the grade. If you felt that nerves affected your performance, work with your teacher to be better prepared for your next exam or learn to manage your nerves more effectively in your next assessment. Many talented performers (and probably most teachers and examiners) have stumbled in exams or performances on their path to greatness. Nevertheless, those who respond with a positive attitude, dedication, strength of character and a love of their craft will take the necessary steps to address their areas for improvement and ensure future success.

If you do happen to feel that the report does not reflect the calibre of the exam performance, please see our Policies section for your rights and information regarding the Appeals process.

Here are a few more reminders for specific specialties. Read on to check if anything pertains to your exam...

Rockschool Reminders

  • No live accompaniment is permitted. All pieces must be performed to a pre-recorded backing track.Every student must bring their Rockschool Grade book to the exam (or a registered downloaded version) and the examiner will sign these in the exam.
  • All backing tracks for Free Choice Pieces and transposed songs (vocals only) must be brought to the exam on a usb stick. No devices please.
  • All students will do a sound-check before they start their pieces to make sure the backing track volume is at the right level for them.
  • A copy of all free choice pieces must be notated (for the instrument line being assessed) and provided for the examiner to read in the exam.
  • Practice with the backing track. This is a key part of the Rockschool program and you will be assessed on your ability to play in sync with the backing track.

Rockschool Keys
All candidates for this syllabus must bring their own keyboard to the exam.

Rockschool Drums
All candidates are encouraged to wear ear-plugs or headphones. Please bring your own drumsticks. You are welcome to bring your own cymbals and snare drum from Grade 6 upwards.

Rockschool Guitar
While the Guitar syllabus is designed for electric guitar, candidates may perform on an acoustic guitar for Grades Debut to 2. From Grade 3 upwards, candidates must use an electric guitar.

Diploma Preparation Tips

  • Start early. This is a big undertaking.
  • Choose an excellent accompanist.
  • Learn slowly and thoroughly in the early stages.
  • Investigate the structure and context of the works as you are learning them.
  • Have notes and memory secure weeks or even months before the performance.
  • Listen to music – and not just the works you are playing.
  • Record yourself. And listen critically to it.
  • Arrange trial performances to family and friends.
  • Develop a strong concept of what you want the music to say – don’t focus on mere technical survival.
  • As the performance approaches, get plenty of rest and exercise, eat well, and keep your life balanced.
  • Avoid last minute (cram) practice. All the work has been done – trust yourself.
  • Arrive at the venue in plenty of time.

And, possibly most important of all, read up on the advice that our Federal Examiners have taken the time to put together.

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