What are the IPPEC exams?
The International Piano Performance Exam Certification, or IPPEC, is a series of events featuring piano exams which assist students in the advancement of their piano performance skills in the areas of physical technique, sight reading, music theory, and stage presence.
Teachers who are members of the IPPEC can enroll students and assign a repertoire for them to study based on their level and skills. Students will then perform these pieces for an adjudicator in a private setting, which can be either in-person or online; the adjudicator will then grade the students’ performance based upon a variety of criteria, as well as prepare an in-depth report detailing their strengths and weaknesses.
These results, along with a written report, will be confidentially provided to the student, as well as their teacher who can use the results to guide the student towards the optimal course of learning, with the goal being to maximize the student’s potential in the field of piano study.
When and where are the exams being held?
Our next exam will be held between August 20th – 31st at the Chopin Performing Arts Center located in Garden Grove, California. Enrollments for this exam will begin on June 1st and are due by June 25th at the latest.
Can exams be performed remotely?
Absolutely. Although performing in-person provides the best experience for students, we understand that not everyone will be able to travel long distances, whether it be for time constraints, financial reasons, or health concerns. We provide two alternatives to in-person exams. First, exams may be performed remotely using Zoom or Messenger on your phone or tablet. The second alternative is to send us a video recording, which we will provide to one of our qualified adjudicators for private viewing.
How can I improve the video quality of my remote exam?
Using a modern tablet with a fast processor and quality camera is a good place to start. We also recommend a fast internet connection with a strong wi-fi signal. If your router is far away from the piano, then using an extender or mesh setup may help to increase the signal strength. Placement of the tablet is also important; the adjudicator will need to see your hands and feet clearly, so a medium viewing angle from the side is usually best. You’ll likely need a tripod for your tablet to get the correct angle, luckily these can be easily found on Amazon for reasonable prices. Some people have had good results using a sheet music stand to hold the tablet but be careful and don’t let it fall off! In this case you can use a couple of large rubber bands to secure it to the stand.
We strongly recommend that you test your audio and video quality ahead of time so you can iron out any wrinkles that may present themselves. Ask your family or friends to create a Zoom meeting that you can join and take the time to adjust your setup until you have satisfactory picture and sound. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but some minor adjustments can go a long way towards making you look like a pro.
What about the audio quality of remote exams?
Zoom’s default audio settings are optimized for speech, which quite frankly are less than ideal for music. Luckily, there are some settings which can improve the audio quality for music lessons. On mobile devices, go into “Meeting Settings” and enable “Use Original Audio”. On desktop or laptop computers, go into “Audio Settings” and enable “Show in-meeting option to enable Original Sound”. Once you’ve done this, you can enable the “Original Audio” setting inside of the meeting. Desktop and laptop computers also have a “High fidelity music mode” which can boost the quality even further, although a fast CPU and network connection may be required.
Another option for improving audio quality can be to invest in an external microphone. Pointing a cardioid microphone towards the piano will pick up more of the piano sound and reject sound coming from the back of the microphone. This can be especially useful in noisy environments or rooms with less-than-ideal acoustics. Having the microphone high up and pointing down at a 45-degree angle is another trick which can reduce unwanted reflections from nearby walls.
Can I record my exam ahead of time?
Yes, no problem. Video may be submitted anytime throughout the year. You can upload your video to YouTube and send us a link to the performance or upload it directly to us through our WeTransfer account. Whichever way you choose, please remember to send us a copy of your sheet music! Please visit our video submission page for more information.