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Should I Take Guitar Exams?

Should I Take Guitar Exams?
Guitar exams London - Cliff Smith Guitar Lessons.

Yes! Here is why…

You will fill in some gaps in your knowledge.

So, you can play all of the three note per string shapes at 220bpm, and sweep arpeggios at blinding speed… How is your chord vocabulary? Can you read music? Do you know which notes you are playing? What is the key signature for C# major? Can you sing a major seventh interval?

Most guitarists learn a lot of similar things, usually the things that they are good at. Taking exams will force you to address your weaker areas too, and open your mind to concepts that you may not have been aware of. This will open doors to new areas of music for you to explore and become amazing at!

Having a goal will make you work harder.

It is very easy to plod along, picking up the guitar every now and again and trying to get better. Without any goals set, it can take you a very long time to improve!

Nobody wants to fail an exam! Once you have the exam date looming, you will put your head down and work towards getting a great mark.

Your guitar practice will be structured.

You know exactly what you are aiming for and will get organised! I have seen guitar pupils create spreadsheets with their practice schedule, details of tempos, notes etc. Just don’t procrastinate too much with the organisational side of things!

Practicing in a goal oriented, structured way will help you at all levels of your guitar playing. Maybe you have three songs to learn for an audition next week, or have to write an epic solo for a recording session. Goal + structure + application = results.

You can measure your progress.

Let’s say you have passed grade four, and you’re studying towards grade five. Two years ago you were struggling with grade one. That is progress! You can see it right there on your grade 4 certificate!

Measuring your progress proves to you that organised, structured practice leads to results. This, in turn, inspires you to work harder.

You will be under pressure.

Most people find the exam itself incredibly stressful. So why would you put yourself through that? Performing on an instrument in public is a high pressure situation for most people. By playing to other people and putting yourself in stressful situations, you become accustomed to the stress, and appear confident.

This will help a lot if you are handed a guitar at a dinner party, or asked to sit in with a friend’s band etc. Exams are a great first step to performing in public.

There are many types of guitar exams.

You can take exams for acoustic, classical or electric guitar. There are several different exam boards, each of which do things slightly differently. I use the RGT (Registry Of Guitar Tutors) exams for electric and acoustic guitar, and the Associated Board (ABRSM) exams for classical guitar. I am also familiar with the Trinity, Rockschool and Guildhall exam syllabuses.

The RGT are the only real choice for acoustic guitar exams, and their electric guitar exams cover a broad spectrum of topics. The Trinity and Rockschool exams are more performance based, which suits some pupils, but they do not address many of the basic concepts that I think are necessary when learning an instrument.

The Associated Board classical guitar exams are pitched about right difficulty wise I think, whereas Trinity is more difficult. The exam grades from all exam boards have equal merit and UCAS point credits.

All of the exams that I mention are internationally recognised qualifications.

I can help you through all your guitar and ukulele exams, please contact me for further details.

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