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Ready or not… Within a little more than a day’s gap between the start of CM, I’m sure all of you are jittery and nervous. Some of you are CM veterans down for another fight, while others simply don’t know what to expect. Either way, here are some tips that you might find helpful during the actual day.


  1. Wake up and dress accordingly
    Wake up a couple of hours before your scheduled time and get dressed. Remember be classy and professional. Men—shirts tucked in, suits, nice shoes, not too colorful tie, smart belt. Women—keep your dresses long and below the knees (when you sit down). Most of the judges are older and most likely prefer something more conservative. Tie your hair back and don’t wear heels (difficult to pedal with). This leads us to the next tip.
  2.  Play through your songs and technic in the morning.
    In your new attire, practice your songs. You want to make sure you’re comfortable, no messy sleeves, no big shoes. Make sure you can perform in your new clothes. With that being said, you don’t want to head in there cold. Give your fingers a little refreshment and get them moving. If it’s a cold morning run your hands under warm water to get blood flowing.  Do a mock audition where you play through all your technique and then your pieces. If you make a mistake don’t beat yourself up for it. This is the day of the audition, you need a calm mind. Stressing out and slamming your keys on the piano will not help.
  3. Get started an hour or so earlier than the time you’re expected to arrive
    Now this one should be obvious. You want to be safe of traffic. There are no make ups and if you run late you will be stressed. This will not put you in a good mind set for the audition. Also, don’t expect to be provided with practice rooms. After all, you’re expected to know them and some last minute practicing isn’t really going to help. Do this beforehand at home.
  4. Formality with the Judge—Greetings
    When you meet your judge make sure you say hello and smile. You’re friendly, they’re doing you a privilege by listening to you. They don’t want to fail you—they want you to pass. Give them a positive attitude.
  5.  Technique—Accuracy, Clarity, Memory
    I’m not sure but I think the judge gives you a choice on what to do first, technique or repertoire. Here are the tips for technique. It’s generally the same as the repertoire, as you will see later.Make sure your hands together, are perfectly in sync in your scales and arpeggios. Make it consistent and clear. After all technic is supposed to show how skilled you are in performing certain standards. Dynamics are not nearly as important as accuracy and clarity and memory.
  6. Performing—Dynamics, Tempo, Accuracy
    Before you actually perform, make sure the judge is ready and has given you the sign. Think about all the things you’ve learned—make sure to stay on tempo, show your dynamic contrast, and to try to play as accurate as you can. Make sure you take a deep breath and calm yourself. Calm all your nerves before you begin. If you know this song, this is just like any other run. However, if you do make a mistake, keep going! 1. It looks better because it doesn’t stand out as much. 2. It shows that you know how to recover and keep your professionalism. 3. The judge might not even notice it if you’re convincing enough. When you’re done, take a deep breath and relax your hands on your lap. Remember, your back should be straight at all times to keep good posture.
  7. If you happen to forget, make huge mistakes…Skip to the end
    Take a deep breath and try to get as far as you can. If you can’t, pick up on where you do know and keep going. If you absolutely have to, skip to somewhere near the ending and play the last few chords. Always remember the ending, it is better than nothing.
  8. Concluding remarks!
    You’re done now! Make sure the judge is done with writing his/her notes and sit patiently. He/she will tell you when to start the next piece or that you’re done. Thank the judge sincerely.



  1. Review the night before and the morning
    Before you sleep, review. It helps your brain process it before the day of the test. In the morning, quiz yourself and see if you remember. Then review further by going through all of your practice exams, concepts, terms, periods, composers.
  2. Eat breakfast! Get in comfortable clothes
    Get your brain whirring. You don’t want to take a test on an empty stomach. You’re going to be sitting there for several hours, make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing. It might be cold so bring a jacket!
  3. Be prompt
    Arrive to your location at the time you see comfortable (that is within the bounds of the day). Make sure there is enough time for you to finish the test without hitting the end of the day where they must conclude.
  4. Go to the bathroom
    You don’t want to have to go to the bathroom during the test. This is horrible. You’re going to be sitting there for several hours wishing you were on the toilet instead.
  5. Bring lots of tissues
    There is most likely a tissue box up at the front but it is good to keep some in your pocket. A lot of kids sniff during the test and you don’t want snot running everywhere. Save yourself some embarrassment, stress, and uncleanliness by having several soft tissues in your pocket
  6. Bring your required materials—pencil, good eraser, ID just in case, and your sign in sheet
    You want your best pencil and a good eraser. This much is obvious. NUFF said.
  7. Take your time!  – Answer the question and TRIPLE CHECK
    You have a lot of time, especially if you get there early. Don’t rush through or you’ll miss some careless mistakes that will cost you a bunch of points.  For ear training, don’t be afraid to push repeat until you are quite/absolutely sure on an answer.  Triple check all of your work and make sure you didn’t do anything you didn’t want to do. Make sure you ANSWER the question (do what they’re asking)
  8. Treat yourself to some good food after
    Relax! You’re done now, there’s nothing you can do about it. Your brain is tired and you might have a headache. Relax, eat, drink, you’ll need it.