Reflecting Back in the Past Part 2

The time to pray for at least a pass in your exams
The time to cram terribly
The time to procrastinate during S’WOT VAC by accident

In my first semester I only had two exams (Mind, Brain and Behaviour 1 and Technical Exam), two tests (Music Language) and essays (Writing About Music: Australian Issues and Art of Piano Teaching). It’s not so bad, as you may think it is. But actually, I found it pretty intense by the amount of studying I had to do for these subjects.

Mind, Brain and Behaviour 1

For our end of semester exam, we had a three hours exam with 120 multiple choice questions. Not so bad eh? But actually, we had to revise a whole, chunk of knowledge and facts by these following topics: Behavioural Neuroscience, Sensation and Perception, Learning and Cognition and Quantitative Methods. Our exam venue was at the Royal Melbourne Exhibition, which was a “pretty place to fail”. I’m just joking, but we all make jokes from that venue.

Experiencing a new, exam venue/area was not too bad for me. If you’re a person who can adapt to new places easily, you’ll be just fine. There was thousands of students there, ranging from First Years to Graduate Diploma students. I think there was approximately three thousand students, waiting to take their exams. It was crazy to see how many students actually study MBB1, which it was one of the things I enjoyed experiencing (well, it was interesting, yet slightly overwhelmed). As I arrive at my venue, I saw A LOT of students cramming, including me. But I was simply double checking I know my stuff anyways. I know my stuff. However, Sensation and Perception was not my cup of tea. The lectures weren’t that clear, and the notes were alright for me to get a general understanding. To be honest, the only question I probably got right was, “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish”. The other questions in S&P, I try to associate what I learnt in VCE Psychology Unit 1 and 2 into S&P, or I picked the answers simply by common sense. Other subjects in the exam was pretty alright. My strongest was Learning and Cognition, Behavioural Neuroscience, while my weakness was Quantitative Methods and Sensation and Perception. The reason why L&C and BN was my strongest was because I studied VCE Psychology Unit 1 to 4. So, it wasn’t so bad when I studied for my exams.

Studying for MBB1 was simple. I was only doing multiple choice practise questions and revising the notes that I had written from my lectures. I didn’t watch the lectures, because I thought it would be a waste of time for me, and also what I needed to do doing S’WOT VAC. The only time I studied intensively was a week before my exams, as I revised throughout my first semester. Same goes to my other subjects, but I’ll go into detail later on.

Seating arrangements was simple. I just walk to my allocated numbered seat, and I sat and waited for instructions. Sitting in a huge venue, with thousands of students was a new experience for me; I came from a small school, and my Year 12 cohort was approximately sixty students. Yes, I was a little overwhelmed by sitting around with thousands of students, but I got over it, as I was at the second front rows. Boy, I was extremely grateful that I was placed there.

During my exam, I made a plan on what I should do when it was writing time, which was:

  1. Complete questions that seems easy for me
  2. Going through the topics that I know the best
  3. If that doesn’t work, I simply attempt doing the subjects that I’m weak at
  4. If I’m not sure of the questions, I’d leave it, and come back to it again

So, it’s kind of like finishing questions that I know the best. Then, I start the paper again by doing the left over questions, repeat the paper again for the leftover questions. Felt like I was wasting my time, but I did what was right for me.

When I got towards the last 10 minutes, I was simply crapping myself theoretically; I still haven’t finished Sensation and Perception. So, I quickly shaded the answers that seems like the ‘correct answer’. Oh boy, I was in a mess. I knew we had all the time in the world for MBB1 exam. But I guess I was just focused on the time, questions and thinking about the ‘correct answers’. Again, it felt like it was another lesson on free will when choosing the ‘right answer’ for multiple choice.

Result: Pass – WOOHOO!

Music Performance 1

Technical exam, which contains cramming
ALL AMEB scales, arpeggios [major, minor, diminished 7ths and dominant 7ths] (including 1st and 2nd position for only major and minor),  country motion, double octaves, with t
wo pieces which were Scarlatti Sonata and Chopin Etude
Exam Venue – Heinze Room, MCM

What a pretty combination for a heavy workload for first years. Wonderful. SO pretty! Hahahahah haaaaa.”

Technical exam was like another AMEB practical exam for me. So, it was relatively comfortable for me to set my mind into it; examiners announcing scales, arpeggios, and all that jazz; wearing performance attire, I play what they asked me to, and then finally, my pieces. I found it odd that they asked me whether I’d like to either play firstly my pieces, or scales or arpeggios. Of course, it’s going to be scales and arpeggios first. It would be slightly be odd if you start your pieces first without warming up on a new unadapted piano. When the examiners asked particular scales and arpeggios, I was surprised that the examiners were really nice to speak really slowly (slower than an AMEB examiner would speak) and clearly, twice. No AMEB examiner would EVER do that. AMEB examiners would say it once, and that’s it.

During my technical exam, I felt like scales and arpeggios took ages! It was probably, I don’t know, seven to ten minutes of them asking me scales and arpeggios. It was a really long list of them asking me anything. I had slips here, and there, but I knew my stuff anyways. I knew that I’ll be having slips in my scales and arpeggios in my exam, and my lessons, and that I’ll be playing my pieces fine. No matter how hard I worked in my scales and arpeggios, I STILL HAVE SLIPS OR UNEVENNESS at some point. Sometimes, I ask myself, “NICOLE, DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY HOURS WE WORK ON SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS? WHY HAVEN’T WE, YOU KNOW, MASTER THEM? OR SOMETHING TO PLEASE OUR PIANO TEACHER/EXAMINERS?” Yes, I felt like I was pressured a lot by my piano teacher to get it right, and myself, because I don’t really want to get a little pep talk from my piano teacher about how scales and arpeggios is important for the exam, and how every mistake deducts your score. Even though, I am glad my piano teacher tells me the truth about how technical exams are, I still had a sense of pressure from my piano teacher and myself.

Performing my pieces passed by quickly, I may say. Time went so fast. It’s normal for pieces to be fast forwarding time quickly for me.

Studying, practising, and performing the same two pieces, and scales and arpeggios for twelve weeks can be boring at one stage. But, when new feedback comes around, it’s like you’re spending hours with it until you get it right.

Results: H3. Good start actually! I was so close to getting a H2B. I guess that’s my next goal – to get at least a H2B in Music Performance!

Music Language 1

Contains weekly assignments and two intense tests (listening, and two sections done in an hour)
Weekly assignments [80%]
TEST 1 (60 minutes) [10%]: Listening
TEST 2 (60 minutes of writing, 10 minutes of reading time) [10%]: Chorale composition and analysis
Exam venue: ERC, Charles Pearson Lecture Building

Waiting before the door opens was sort of nerve-racking. Getting in was like going into a haunted train ride. Sitting in the lecture was a free choice on where we would like to sit, which was nice. Doing the test is what freaked every one out. After the test, every body wanted to go home, or eat lunch.

Listening test wasn’t too bad. However, studying for it is sort of challenging. To be honest, I should’ve started this earlier, and kept it consistent each week. What I should’ve did was download ALL of the listening pieces into my iPod that is on the listening test. I synced all of the pieces during Week 11. Should’ve done that ages ago… :\

Recognising the name of the piece is a little difficult for me. But I knew what they sound like from the moment they play the piece. So, during the test I had a tip of the tongue phenomenon, which was REALLY annoying when I knew the piece, but not its name. I started studying for its names during Week 10. Again, I should’ve started studying them ages ago.

In the listening test, there’s only 9 pieces out of 60 that would appear in your listening test. So, it’s a little hard to predict on which pieces will appear.

Writing test was, oh dear lord, REALLY INTENSE. Four to five hours of doing the analysis and composition assignments throughout the semester, to a half hour of doing so in the test. What even? I didn’t get to finish my analysis section. I tried. Composition was a disaster. I was filling in random notes in the last fifteen minutes of our test, because I was working on it for forty-five minutes, which is a no, no! Fifteen minutes on analysis was simply not enough time for me to write what I needed to write. So, I suggest to break the time you have equally, rather than finishing it halfway.

After the exam, I felt like I wanted to go home, sleep, and probably be sad in bed about how terrible I did in my test. I didn’t practise after I did my test, I was mentally exhausted. Hahaha. Plus, I had Netball training that night. Boy, I was really quiet, and kept to myself. I was simply sad about my day, and trying not to be bleh towards my teammates.

Results: Pass. BOY, I WAS SO HAPPY!

Art of Piano Teaching

Two Oral Assignments and a thousand word essay
Simple to pass, hard to get a good mark (according to the older years)

Writing that essay was nice, yet slightly frustrating sometimes. But, I managed to put it my ideas in dot points that accumulated into a thousand words. Boom done. I did a essay topic about what would it be like if I taught this piece towards my student. So, it wasn’t so bad. But difficult for me to express what I wanted to talk about in my essay. As in the past, I have difficulties expressing my thoughts and ideas on paper. When I wrote it down, grammar, expression and every thing was every where; it didn’t make sense at all! Luckily, I had a volunteer in the past helping how to conquer my difficulties in expressing my ideas on paper. I was sure glad I had that volunteer! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t had help from tutors and teachers!

Results: H2B. HAHAHAHAAHA. A lot of ‘improvising’ was said in my essay. Hahahaha.

Writing About Music: Australian Issues

Fortnightly assignments, and a research essay (thousand words maximum)

The last assignment (research essay) was really interesting to do! I finally get to learn things! During some of the classes, it wasn’t very intriguing for me, or others in fact, that it was seemingly meaningless for us. Though, we learnt Australian Music, we probably never would even discuss Australian music ever again in the future. However, it was nice to explore our musical knowledge anyways.

I did my research essay on how Melba contributed to the development of Opera in Australia. It was very time consuming on researching the right sources, and writing up to at least nine hundred words. But at the end, it wasn’t so bad after all. I actually enjoyed learning about Melba. I’m glad we had a chance to have that independence in researching, and writing about one of the chosen topics. I somewhat felt a sense of satisfaction in completing that research essay!

Results: Pass. HAHAHHHAHA. Just of what I’ve been expecting of my past results.


  • I’m basically proud of myself that I passed based on my difficulties of expressing my thoughts and ideas on paper with grammar issues in the past, learning new music knowledge, and dealing with a high workload for my first semester
  • I learnt a heap of things on what worked, what didn’t work – I’ll be mentioning this in my next posts
  • It’s not so bad when you are doing the exam

What am I doing now?

  • Basically enjoying my damn break
  • I recently got back into practising a lot
  • I have a lot of bruises, particularly from Netball.
  • Keeping myself busy, and now I’m simply probably practising away this week.
  • Slowly getting back into my sleeping habit. Hahhahha

Hope you’re enjoying your break so far!

– Nic

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