Have you ever wondered what graded music exams actually consist of? Here we will explain what to expect when you take your practical exam for any instrument. |
There are currently three boards that are accredited by Ofqual as part of the UK’s National Qualifications Framework to give out graded exams. These are the London College of Music, Trinity College London and ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). By far the most widely used is ABRSM.
These graded exams range from grade one for the beginner up to grade eight for the most advanced musician. Every grade is marked out of 150 with a mark of 120 required to pass. Additionally you will be awarded a pass with merit for getting 120 marks and a pass with distinction for getting 130 marks.
Every practical music exam has four elements to it. The set pieces part, scales and arpeggios, aural and sight reading. Students must buy sheet music from the course syllabus to use in the set pieces part of the exam. This consists of three pieces of music which they can choose and practise ahead of the exam. They must score at least 20 out of 30 on each of these pieces to pass.
The scales and arpeggios are performed at the examiner’s request. For example, the examiner will ask for a particular scale in a particular key and the candidate must play it. They are given several to play worth a total of 21 marks. They must score at least 14 marks to pass.
The aural part of the exam consists of the examiner playing the instrument in question and then asking the candidate questions based on the playing. Sometimes the candidate will be asked to sing or clap a rhythm or melody in response to a question. This requires 12 out of 18 marks to pass.
The sight reading exercise is a particular tricky element of the exam as the student must play a piece of music by sight that they have never seen before. They will be given the sheet music for it and have 30 seconds to prepare before performing it to the best of their ability. This component of the exam carries 21 marks with the pass level set at 14 marks.
The key to passing your music grading is preparation and practice. Make sure you choose your set pieces wisely from the course syllabus. Examiners like to see that you can play a range of different music, which is why there are different genres from which to choose your scores. You can find music from the course syllabus available from this music shop brighton and various other resources online.
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