Friday, 14 October 2011

Music Academy Exams

Jen Hoyer, a Canadian recorder performer and teacher plus librarian, is visiting Hamburg and teaching our Keiskamma students beautifully.

“The Music Academy was busy for most of the month of August with preparations for UNISA exams. Having arrived in Hamburg to work with the students only two weeks before the exams, it was a bit of a test for myself as well!

23 of our students played 28 exams, with five students doing two exams on different instruments. We were very pleased with the general feedback from our examiner. He was impressed to see an outreach music program putting forward such well-prepared students and explained that this was contrary to his previous experience with similar programs. He went over the exam results from other exam centres he supervised in the region during the same session and confirmed that our students' average was 3.8% higher than the average in any other centre.

The final results for our students showed 19 distinctions (over 80%), 8 merits (over 70%), and 1 pass. In the distinction category, three of our students actually achieved over 90%. These were such exciting results, and they are good validation for the students that their hard work is worth it.

Coming from Canada, I have many memories of playing music exams as a student. These experiences generally involved poorly heated church halls and scratchy wool skirts, missing a half-day of school and stopping for a Slurpee on the car ride home.

Exams work a little differently in Hamburg. There are no parents around to drop off or pick up their children. The students walk from many kilometres away and we give them some bread and peanut butter if they haven't had a good meal before coming.

I accompanied many of the exams on piano. Shortly after lunch on the first day, I waited with the next student for her turn. We stood on a back stoop outside the living room (our exam room) door, gazing at the breakers on the beach and smelling the geraniums in the garden. I was still catching my breath from marching several students back to their practice room with curt orders: "We do not run in the yard and we do not steal guavas from other peoples' trees while waiting for our exams."

I often admit that I am learning just as much as my students, and experiences like this highlight the learning curve!"