Monday, April 23, 2012

ABRSM Exam Week Spring 2012 Day 1

Early morning....

ABRSM, as an organization, has an effective 'corporate culture', to use that old buzzword. It seeks to learn how to do its mission better, based upon what it learns from its ongoing experience.

One detail they learned along the way is to fly examiners in early enough to allow their bodies to acclimate to the local time zone, weather, cuisine and culture. It makes a big difference in how they perform their task and hold up on their long tours. Thus Richard arrived to us late Saturday afternoon Central US Time, late evening London time. There was time for dinner, time to check him into his cottage at East Hills Bed and Breakfast, and a day off to recuperate.

Today, then, is Day 1. We begin with breakfast at the B&B, served by our hosts John and Anita Luther. It's time to go over the week's timetable, make certain we have all our ducks in a row regarding special needs tests, venue arrangements, etc. It's also time to relax and chuckle a bit, because the work-load ramps up dramatically from this point on. I call ahead to the church venues to make certain we will not be walking into a funeral service or wake being held in the exam room. No kidding, it happened once, not an experience to repeat.

The first exams are held today at First Baptist Dickson Tennessee. We are fortunate in the South to have so many churches, and so many of them still willing to open their doors to examination days. I understand this is not the case in other parts of the country.

It's an afternoon session of students from this region of the state, west of Nashville. I'll be training a new steward, since our beloved Roseanna who handled the duties for the past two years is now at university some two hundred miles distant.

For now, it's time to assemble the signage, the schedule books, and prepare the mark sheets for the examiner--after I field the phone call from the officious mother who wonders why the entire world does not stop in order to answer her questions at the moment she poses them...


All went smoothly--pictures will follow in due course. Richard heard exams from candidates ranging from about age seven to college students, including a number of prep tests. No one came out of the exam room crying (which occasionally happens), and several came out beaming telling us what fun they had. That's the reaction we really like! The examiners are vetted and trained intensively on a certain style of etiquette designed to keep the candidate as relaxed as possible during exam time, and Richard certainly does this well.

We actually ran a few minutes ahead of schedule, also a good sign. All went smoothly, and the parents of the younger children enjoyed hanging out together, talking with Carol and today's applicant Amy Shafer, LRSM. (More about her in due course.) I had to run some administrative errands, and helped with the chauffering, set-up and tear-down of the exam room.

We ran into an odd situation in the exam room, with the piano up on the pulpit area, with an unusually designed set of stairs leading up. With a bit of engineering involving a potted plant and a 'mourner's bench', we created a path up and back that no child could miss, avoiding a tumble during an exam.  Always something new, always something to learn....

Back to prepping mark sheets for Tuesday. It will be a long day, picking Richard up at 7:30, and we'll be bringing him back about 9:00 p.m. Some days are like that, thankfully not most.

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