In at least one piano exam room this spring there will be a candidate who, in her fifties and after a hiatus of 30 years, is taking a piano exam for the first time. She has overcome cultural, linguistic, and personal challenges to get to this point, and performed in public for the first time in her life in a student recital a couple of years ago.
She achieved a certain technical proficiency in her youth, but some old habits are dying hard and of course learning something new doesn’t come nearly so easily now. Nevertheless, this exam is her idea and I admire her determination and the hard work she has put into it already, despite coming close to tears because of nervousness with still 2 months to go.
My hope is that whoever hears her playing will be patient and kind. The problem with exams is that they are by their very nature a judgment call, ending with a mark in black and white.
Sometimes it’s not just the students who get nervous.