Studying music is not all about fun. In order to be the complete musician, a pianist has to pass through the challenging studying process: practicing, concert, and EXAMS. Talking about out of the comfort zone. When I was little, I used to think that the piano exam is like the most 'evil' thing in the world. The idea of repeating and practicing the same pieces for 8 months, just makes me tired and hate music.
The piano exam is definitely not an absolute parameter of a successful pianist. Even though my student got perfect score for music theory and piano practical, doesn't mean that they love what they're doing. But piano exams are, or could be, a useful tool to compare one's technical level or factual knowledge of piano and music to some objective standard - and thus could be helpful in countries which do not have a long established western musical tradition.
There's a lot of pros and cons about the idea of taking a piano exam. Some people said it's good taking the exam, because it will give you standard in which level you are, how much you have learned so far, and also will give you learning purpose/goal to the next level. And not to mention, you will get the certificate. On the other hand, people would just enjoy to play a lot of interesting repertoire, having a great time performing the pieces in concert or school events, and could contribute something in church or other social community.
What they don't measure - and can't measure - is the emotional aspect of music making: the ability of the pianist to feel and express what is in the music; the ability of the pianist to take setbacks in their progress or tough times and keep going.
exams but do not enforce them! Only taking the piano exam, when the student is ready for it. Don't push them to do it!
- Nurture their passion, desire to learn the piano (long-term goal)
- A relaxed teaching approach. Don't be the dictator, but be their brain-storm partner! - let them consider, if they want to do the exam or not, let them choose the exam pieces (listening, picking out what they want to learn,) guide them.
- More other "FUN" repertoires beside exam pieces, please! Avoid boredom!
- Avoid long-term piano exam pieces drill! Three months are enough to play the same exam pieces. More than that, you need to be careful, so they don't lose their interest.
- Good preparation. Make sure you practice everything through together with the students - include the aural and sight reading test. A lot of hints and tips, please! It gives them a secure feeling. If they agree to do the piano exam, please make sure that they understand the consequences and they're willing to do the daily practice!
- Tame the tiger moms! Give some explanation about the positive and side-effects of piano exam - the do's and don'ts. Usually when the teacher make a good point out of it, hopefully they would listen.
- Avoid too much expectation and pressure to the student. Some degree of expectation is good in learning piano, but too much expectation will lead to frustration.