Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ABRSM Exam Week Spring 2012 Day 2: The Steward

It was a long day, breakfast at 7:00 am and dinner at 8:30 pm, with a multitude of candidates in between.  Impressively, we actually ran ahead of schedule all day. Efficient examiner, well-prepared students.  I began training a new steward who took to the job readily and kept the day going.

The exam steward plays an important role in the process--part traffic cop, part personal assistant to the examiner, part stable pony for nervous candidates. The steward's job is to usher candidates into the exam room, making sure the examiner has a prepared mark sheet and music needed,  ushering the previous candidate out, while keeping everyone calm and the day running on time. The steward also guards the door to prevent parents and teachers from attempting to break in on the exam--it happens from time to time, really.

It takes a calm, organized person to do this job. After a bit, if things go well, the steward and examiner begin to work in synch, and the day takes on a sort of rhythm worked out between them. If the steward is a student, it is one of the best music educations available, as he or she hears every exam go by, and inevitably comes along for a lunch or dinner with the examiner. The steward gets to hear the funny stories from exam rooms around the world, and is given insight into how the examiners approach their work.

Our steward of the past two years, Roseanna, is now away at university. She became so adept at the role that I simply packed up a rolling file box with the needed supplies, handed it over to her, and made myself scarce. She had matters well in hand. More than one examiner sincerely wished they could fly her around the country for other stops on tour. She rejoins us in Louisville in May, and I lok forward to her presence.

Trainee steward Jordan shows real promise, and I have high hopes. She is also young enough to keep around for another couple of years. She showed real calm and presence of mind. I only had to give her instructions once, and she was on her way. She kept the day flowing, when it easily could have bogged down.

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