First of all, many students ask me how do I master piano songs so quickly and play them so well. Well, the truth is, I do have a secret, and I am about to share that secret with you right now. Please note the following secret is only specific to local Singaporean students. If you are from another country and reading this, it probably will not apply for you.
Singaporean piano students are usually school children who are still in their primary or secondary years in terms of academia. This means that they have a lot of lessons and exam pressure when it comes to their school as well.
The big difference between Singapore and Sweden (where I came from) is that the education system in Singapore is ridiculously vigorous academically. This system almost feels caste like, and groups students into top students (e.g. those who enter top secondary schools), mid-performance students (e.g. those who enter schools which require PSLE scores of 200 to 240), and low-performance students (e.g. those who enter schools which accept PSLE scores of lower than 200).
Thankfully, a piano student’s skill and mastery is not determined by his or her academic results.
However, I still mentioned about Singapore’s school system because it has a very important implication to local piano students in Singapore.
Piano students in Singapore are usually also affected by their experiences in school, and therefore are quite perfectionist when compared to students of any other country (e.g. Sweden). Students in Sweden tend to finish the entire piano piece first, and get a grasp of the whole ABRSM piano examination piece before drilling into the nitty gritty thing. Therefore, even with minor mistakes during the examinations, they are able to perform well as they can grasp the feel of the entire song and bring out the personality of the song. However, this is not the case with Singaporean students.
Singaporean students are usually too perfectionist, and tend to want to hit every single note correctly. This is great, unless it also interferes with a piano student’s ability to capture the essence and personality of the song! Reality has it that most Singaporean students (who are almost always perfectionists) let it get in the way of fully understanding and playing the piano piece to its full personality. This results in a dry and plain sounding piano song, which is fundamentally correct, but has no emotions. This will not get the student a high score in the piano ABRSM exams!
Instead, the biggest trick for Singaporean students to master the piano examination pieces is to first let go of all external expectations of a perfectly, technically played song. Instead, bring out the emotion of the song, and play it with emotions, without worrying too much about mistakes in the pressing of the notes. After that is completely grasped, then one should move into the technical aspects and hitting 100% right notes.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret to scoring better in the piano ABRSM exams for Singaporean students.
You could also watch the video below to understand more.