How To Ace Your Piano Sight Reading

Piano sight reading of the ABRSM exams has traditionally been a problem for local, Singaporean students. This is because many Singaporean piano students have a ‘perfectionist’ attitude brought over from their academic school life. While being a perfectionist is a good thing when it comes to playing the ABRSM pieces, it is not too much of a good thing when it comes to sight reading.

Many Singaporean students put way too much emphasis on hitting the right notes 100% of the time at the expense of the rhythm and other dynamics of the song. This is one of the biggest mistakes that many local students make.

Another mistake that students tend to make is repeating whatever they had played wrongly. Repeating is not a good thing, and you will get heavily deduction in marks for doing that. There is a reason why pianists at concerts do not replay any particular part of the song even if they make a tiny mistake somewhere. They just continue on. In fact, you will get much higher scores by continuing the piece than repeating even once.

If you want more tips, then make sure to check out the following video which shares with you some really powerful tips to improve your sight reading. While sight reading is traditionally a feared segment of the piano ABRSM exams among Singaporean students, it need not be the case for you anymore with these tips! If you want a good teacher, also make sure to head on over to where they will match you up with a really good piano teacher in Singapore!

How To Best Practise For Piano ABRSM Exam In Singapore?

What is the best way to practise for your piano ABRSM examinations?

  1. You always want to ensure that you practise for 15 minutes per day on the piano. It could be scales, it could be a series of sight reading tests or it could even be your examination piano pieces. You want to make sure that you drill into yourself the habit of practising daily regardless of your schedule. Consistency is key to the rest of the following tips.
  2. Practise what you are good at first, before going on to the other aspects of the piano examinations which you are not so good at. For instance, if you are best at the first piano piece, then always practise that first. This goes in direct opposition to the common advice dished out by common folks. However, the reason for this is psychological. When you practise what you are good at first, not only does it mean that the chances of you scoring nearly perfect in that area is significantly increased, it sharply increases your level of confidence in improving your weak areas later on. If you started off with improving your weakest area during each practice session, you will end up dreading every practice session, and always think of what is next instead of focusing on the task at hand!
  3. Make yourself stressed during the piano practice sessions. A good piano teacher will always teach you to practise in this manner. Some people think that it is better to be relaxed and play without pressure. But the truth is, if you are in the examination room and you suddenly tense up mentally and physically on the exam date itself, you will not know how to cope with it. Instead, practise every session as though you are being judged constantly by a fierce pair of ears and eyes. Take every practice session very seriously, and you will be so relaxed during the actual ABRSM piano exams in Singapore and score better easily.
  4. Many Singaporean students score poorly in the aural segment, not because they are bad at singing, but because they are shy about singing out loud. Singapore has a conservative culture, and as a result of that, some Singaporean music students are afraid of singing out loud when it comes to the aural segment in fear of being laughed at. In fact, not being confident and singing softly will kill your exam scores. Just sing out loud as though you are at the karaoke session with your friends or colleagues and do your best to match the tonality and rhythm.

How Much Do Private Piano Teachers Charge In Singapore?

What kind of prices do private home piano teachers (those who travel to your house) charge in Singapore? Private home piano tutors are the premium choice of many Singaporean parents, mainly due to the convenience factor. They can watch their child learning and taking the music lessons in the comfort of their home. This is not only convenient for the child, but also safer for him/her.

As a direct result of the above, many local Singaporean parents are interested to figure out how much teachers charge, so that they can budget and calculate to see if they can comfortably afford their children’s home piano lessons. So let us take a look at the average prices.

For the examples below, we will take the estimated prices that a Grade 8 qualified piano teacher charge. Do note that if the teacher you are engaging is a Diploma certified teacher, then he or she usually charges 5-20% more.

For grades 1 to 4, each lesson is 45 minutes long, and there are 4 lessons in a month. For ABRSM grade 1, 4 lessons cost around $140 to $150. This then increases until an estimated $180 to $200 for grade 4.

However, there is a change when it comes to grade 5. Lessons are now 60 minutes in length, albeit there is still 4 lessons in a typical month. Four grade 5 lessons cost an estimated $210 to $230 a month and increases up till around $280 to $320 for grade 8. Diploma lessons are usually $350 to $400 and above.

All estimated prices above are accurate as of the date of this writing, and are in Singapore Dollars (“SGD”).

Do note that many piano teachers in Singapore will encourage your child to take up more lessons and up the intensity when it is nearing his or her practical examinations. This is perfectly normal. In that case, the rates per month will be pro-rated and higher than normal months.

How To Get More Piano Students By Helping Them Ace Exams

Piano teachers in Singapore – focus on this to get more students.

Instead of struggling to get music students so you can grow your income in Singapore, simply focus instead on teaching your existing students better, while partnering up with piano teacher agencies like SG Learn Piano which offer jobs. This way, you will get better and more referrals from the agency as well as from your existing students. The better your students perform, the more these students and their parents will recommend you to their family or friends with children wanting to learn the piano. The better your reviews provided by these students and their parents to the piano teacher agency, the greater the incentive the agency has to refer students to you. As you can see, this will quickly result in a snowball effect and grow your income exponentially.

Here are some tips for piano teachers to help their student ace their ABRSM piano exams in Singapore:

  1. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Therefore, you want to teach your students the best way to practise for their piano exams. Always help them get the right muscle memory first. There are some piano teachers who ask their students to simply play the ABRSM pieces to the right pace/speed first, before working on the smaller things. That is the wrong way to teach. Once muscle memory is wrong, while not impossible, it is difficult to correct. Make sure your student gets the right rhythm and notes and expressiveness right from the get go, even if the pace is significantly slower than the ideal pace that the piece dictates. Only after rhythm, notes and expressiveness is achieved should you ask your student to speed up the playing.
  2. Many Singaporean students score poorly in their aural segment of the exams, because they are afraid to sing and afraid of being judged. Some students may feel embarrassed to sing because their parents are also in the house during the lessons. However, tell your students that there is no need to care about anyone’s opinions about their singing. Feeling good and hitting the right notes and rhythm is far more important. If they hit it, no one else’s opinions matter.
  3. Sight reading is also another segment of the piano ABRSM exam in Singapore that many local Singaporean students face problems with. Make sure to get the students used to sight reading by always bringing some random piece of piano song (short one) and getting them to start off the practice session during the lesson with that sight reading piece. If you do this every week during their piano lessons, they will get used to it and perform well eventually as they will have the right level of confidence by the time of the examinations in Singapore.
  4. Scales is usually a common area where Singaporean music students tend to perform well in. However, I also have a full article on how to ace the piano scales exams here – you can share it with your student too.

How To Ace Your Piano Scales Examinations For Singaporean Students

Many Singaporean students find practising and acing piano scales for their ABRSM exams in Singapore difficult and tedious. However, if you are one such student, do not give up! Piano scales is one of the easiest parts of the examinations to get high scores in.

To ace your piano scales segment for your ABRSM examinations, you should take time to practise your fingers as accurately as possible. You need to have the right muscle memory to perform scales well. Do not increase playing speed at the expense of fingering accuracy. You want the muscle memory to be perfect by repeating the same, correct action over and over again. This way, by the time you get to higher ABRSM piano grades, you will be able to perform the scales accurately even at high speed because you have the right muscle memory!

An interesting tip for you Singaporean students is to practise your piano scales hands separately. This is the case regardless of your grade level. Many students can play scales well with both hands, however, they perform terribly and get confused easily if they try to play with one hand. Make sure you know your scales truly inside out.

Last but not least, mix up the order you play your scales. Your examiner may ask you for a random scale on the day of the exam. You want to practise at random, and do not always play them in the same sequence. This way, you will be more capable of adapting to unexpected changes in the examination room.