AMEB Examinations were the cause of stress, worry and frustration during my childhood of violin. Every year I experienced the period of pressure-practicing a few weeks before the exam, the extra lessons with a rather worried teacher and then the day of the exam itself where I had to be made presentable to my examiner.
Since coming to Shine, I have spent a few days within the past few years at the AMEB examinations. Despite the long hours of waiting for almost 20 students to sit their exams, the time passes relatively quickly whilst talking to the parents and students. In some cases, the parents are the ones who are stressing and it takes much talking and reassuring to calm them down. Students who have taken an exam before know the steps – come in 10 to 15 minutes before your exam, hand in your sheet, walk into the exam like a pro! The new, first-time students and parents tend to show up 30 to 40 minutes before their exam time for fear of being late or unprepared.This allows everyone to sit down, catch their breathe and either relax (or end up being more nervous) before the exam!
Two weeks ago, the AMEB exams were held at the newer AMEB building in Wynyard. Unlike the Conservatorium, students and parents are only allowed to go up to the waiting rooms 10 to 20 minutes prior to their exam time. There was also a limit to ‘1 support person per student’, which forced me to wait downstairs from 9am to 4:30pm where there was no seating available except for in a very small cafe. I purchased over 4 cups of coffee and a light meal whilst I moved back and forth from the downstairs lobby to the different levels where exams were being held. The best moment I had was towards the end when I had one of our teachers accompanying me. We also had an adult exam student who was taking her exam for the first time. 20 minutes of talking and reassuring did not help – she painted a picture of how her exam went afterward. She was so unbelievably nervous that her (violin) bow continually shook as she played. Her excellent result confused her, as she was positive her nervousness had ruined her performance. I was literally cracking up as she called the examiner’s words of ‘slight tension in the bowing’ an absolute understatement’ and continued to demonstrate how intensely her arms had shook. This was the first time anyone at an AMEB examination laughed as hard as we all did.