I’m aware that a number of students across the UK are now fast-approaching their GCSE, AS and A-Level summer exams. I know how important these exams are and how stressful they can be. The pressure to succeed in them is immense.
As I wrote in a blog post last year, I am, however, a firm believer that music can be a fantastic way to relieve some of that stress and provide a welcome break from both exams and revision. No one should be revising 24/7 and all the advice out there suggests taking regular breaks to refuel and refocus. Music is a great way to do that.
Each music teacher will approach this differently, but with the above in mind, here are some guidelines which I’ve offered my own students affected by these exams this summer:
- Personally, and I’m sure this will apply to other teachers, studio and cancellation policies still apply (if you’re a teacher and you don’t yet have a studio policy, check out this blog post);
- Teachers understand that with the stress of the school exams, practice will inevitably be limited (or non-existent). Students shouldn’t let this put them off coming to lessons though because there’s still lots that can be enjoyed;
- If you feel you have an especially busy week of exams coming up, or a heavy revision period, you might want to cancel the lesson that week. Remember though, it’s much better if you can shift the lesson to a different day or time, or maybe double the lesson length the following or previous week rather than missing the lesson entirely. The lesson could be that welcome break and breather you need;
- If you’re not in school during the normal school day, why not change your lesson time to a free daytime slot? There are always a variety of free slots available each week. My own students can see these, book and switch easily just by logging on to MyMusicStaff;
- Above all, don’t let school exams eclipse everything you enjoy doing, especially music. There’s so much research extolling the benefits of music in terms of health and wellbeing. This is all the more important in times of stress;
- In the past, students have asked if they can take a complete break from lessons during the school exam period. I know that other teachers have been approached with similar requests, and sometimes, this ‘break’ can last up to eight weeks. Whilst teachers understand the pressure to do this, I don’t encourage it as I believe that there are always ways to work around the exams to keep music part of your life. Personally, and I’m sure this applies to other teachers, with quite a long waiting list, I am not able to keep lesson slots open for students who wish to take such an extended break over this period.
I wish you all good luck with your exams, and I, like other music teachers, look forward to working with you to achieve a good exam-life balance in such stressful times.
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