When it comes to taking exams or not, different people have different views. Some people think that exams are a good motivator and a good goal setting approach. However, some people think that taking exam is too rigid beacuse passing a level does not truly reflect the strengh of a person. So, we know, taking exams or not is a very personal choice. In2017, I chose to take the Level 4 exam. At that time, I needed to look after my family and go to work every day. I was also studying for a professional certification examination for my work, and had just finished my first graduate program. So, you might think that I was crazy – signing myself up to so many tasks at the same time.
I live in the Province of British Columbia in Canada. The music exam here takes place only once a year. Usually the exam takes place over a two-day period. As far as I know, the first day is for lower levels (i.e. Level 1 – 6) and the second day is for higher levels (i.e. Level 7 and above). In April 2017, I saw from the B.C Chinese Music Association website about the upcoming exam. The deadling for application was in July. The actual exam took place on October 21 and 22. On the day of the exam, I was required to go to one of the buildings in the Department of Music at the University of British Columbia. Candidates needed to bring their own instruments. They needed to arrive early to tune their instruments.
Those who cannot speak Manderin can request an interpreter in advance. On the day of the exam, the interpreter will be able to help you to communicate with the examiner.
I remember the entire exam process last around 15 minutes. Inside the room, there were an examiner and a staff member. After I sat down, they asked for my name and the level of exam I was going to take. Immediately right after that, I was asked to play my first song (i.e. an exercise song). Without any breaks in between, then I played the second song. Afterwards, the examiner asked me to pick two pieces of paper on her table. The first one had a question related to the song I played (e.g. who composed the song?). The second one consisted of two questions – one is for visual singing and one for clapping hands based on the beat. After that, the examiner told me that I could leave and the exam was over.
I know different places have different exam requirements. The requirements in China are different from those of Hong Kong and Canada. The United States also has exam service. The one I took was organized by the China Conservatory of Music. I believe they are the only organization that provides exam service overseas. This year my goal is to pass Level 6. A few days ago, I came across some news. It looks like the China Conservatory of Music now provides online exam services. This saves the trouble of carrying a large piece of instrument. It also gives students more flexibility around the examination time. I am going to do more research and share with you in the future.