Are Exams Necessary?

 

Whether you call it a test, an evaluation, an exam, or anything else, it’s all essentially the same thing. Though the tests and methods of scoring may vary, they all have these three elements in common: requirements, guidelines, and a score. When it comes to academics, exams are, no doubt, important. We are taught this from early childhood, but how about when it comes to the arts? There must be something that differentiates physics from music. Still, if there’s no exam, no matter what they’re studying, would a student be driven to study? Even though nobody enjoys pressure, that same pressure drives motivation and comes from exams. Furthermore, exams may also be beneficial to teachers and schools because it gives them a way to evaluate students and establish benchmarks for what’s working and what isn’t.

 

In some cases, exams are absolutely necessary when it entails certification. For instance, a surgeon absolutely needs to pass their exam because, otherwise, they’d be a threat to anyone who steps (or rolls) into their operating room. Similarly, drivers must take a test to obtain their driver’s license, or else be a hazard to themselves and everyone else on the road. In other cases, exams serve only as competition. Whether it’s an entrance exam, a trial to break a record, or for parents to judge their children against each other, some tests exist only to create a hierarchy.

 

 

 

But what about music exams?

 

Can arts even be accurately evaluated in the first place? What’s the difference between motivation and forcing a student? In truth, there’s really no objective answer to these questions, as it really depends on what we want to get out of it. Some occupations require certifications, and some do not. Even putting careers aside, we need to address why the student wants to learn music in the first place. Do they just want to have fun playing an instrument, or is it more serious than that? Music exams definitely bring some potential pit falls with them. What if a student loses the joy of playing or stops understanding what they are learning because their entire focus is on the test? Or, what if they only want to impress their teacher or examiner instead of create music that they actually like? Finally, since all exams entail a degree of stress, what level of stress is acceptable when it comes to learning music? If we do decide to do away with exams, there are still goals for students to reach towards and find motivation, such as writing songs or playing concerts and recitals. Further, students can also learn and practice methods that cannot be tested, such as improvisation.

Here are the available music occupations available in Singapore

Occupation

 

Band conductor

MOE music teacher

Classical music teacher

SSO player

Jazz music teacher

Lounge pianist

Composer

Recording sessionist

Recording artiste

Touring musician

Club musician

Wedding performer

Freelance DJ

Lyricist

Music producer

Music director

Music agent

Music therapist

Music school owner

Basker

Record label owner

Sales of instruments

Record engineer

Record producer

Sound technicians

Tour managers

Event managers

 

 

 

 Need certifications?

 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

Yes/No

Yes/No

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

 

 

 

It really comes down to this one question: why are you learning music?

 

If your goal is to enter university, to become a music teacher, or to play in a professional symphony, then you will, indeed, need a certification. Exams are the only way forward in this case. However, if you just want to enjoy playing music for yourself, your friends, and your family, or even if you want to be a professional songwriter or a lounge pianist, then there is no need to go through the stress of taking music exams.

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