Music Exams - Published in 2011, Guitar Player Magazine

Can you be ‘qualified‘ to make music?” asks guitar tutor John Wilmshurst.

While most people studying an instrument are happy just to learn for fun, some of you will be thinking about taking music exams.

There are pros and cons to this, you decide which is which:

• Exams enforce structure in your study

• You get official recognition and satisfaction for your efforts, if you pass

• Grades count towards UCAS points

• Exams and books increase the financial commitment to your lessons

• Studying from books can make your playing more clinically correct

• An exam date adds deadlines and pressure

A grade 8 student is always applauded for their discipline and commitment to study, but few can also play with the ‘feel’ of a dedicated musician who practices all night trying to get ‘that sound’ which turns them on.

There is no ‘right’ way to learn, but I do follow one golden rule:

Remember why you wanted to learn to play in the first place.

John Wilmshurst, Guitar Tutor