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A Look At ABRSM Music Exams PDF Print E-mail
Written by AnitaHale   
You have probably heard a friend or colleague who plays an instrument make reference to something called a "grade." These grades refer to music exams that form part of a structured way of learning musical instruments. Many people like to learn this way because it gives the m motivation and purpose in excelling at their chosen instrument.
by AnitaHale


You have probably heard a friend or colleague who plays an instrument make reference to something called a "grade." These grades refer to music exams that form part of a structured way of learning musical instruments. Many people like to learn this way because it gives the m motivation and purpose in excelling at their chosen instrument.

Now how can you take these graded exams? You or your school will have a choice between three examining bodies. The main one that people use is ABRSM. This stands for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. The other two bodies are Trinity College London and London College of Music. ABRSM is hugely popular due to its detailed syllabus and range of sheet music it publishes in conjunction with this.

Practical exams offered by ABRSM are by far the most taken of all music exams. These are the ones that range from grade one to eight. You can sit these exams in any of a range of 35 different musical instruments. However, ABRSM also offer jazz exams, practical musicianship exams and music theory exams.

Now let's examine what actually takes place during a practical exam. The first thing you should know is that every practical exam, regardless of grade, is divided into four components. The first component carries the highest value of marks. This is the set pieces component. ABRSM brings out a course syllabus for every grade of every instrument they offer exams in. From this syllabus the student will be guided by their teacher to select three pieces of music to play during their exam. They practice these pieces thoroughly for the exam and can take the sheet music in with them. Each piece is worth 30 marks, with twenty needed for each to pass the component.

The second section of the exam is known as scales and arpeggios. This is simply where the student plays whatever scales are requested by the examiner. It is a fairly brief section in the exam and requires pass mark of fourteen out of twenty-one.

The aural section is meant to exam the candidate's musical ear by getting them to listen to the examiner playing the instrument. He will then go on to ask them a series of questions about what he has played. Sometimes their response will require singing or clapping. The student must get at least 12 out of 18 to pass the aural.

Sight-reading is often the most feared part of the music exam. This is because the candidate must play from sheet music that they haven't ever seen before. They will be presented with a short piece during the exam and are allowed half a minute to look at it and prepare. They are encouraged to have a quick run-through during this time. After that they must play the music as best they can for the examiner. Sight-reading carries a total of 21 marks. The pass mark for it is fourteen.

The number of marks needed to pass the exam and be awarded the grade is 100 out of 150. Candidates that score 120 or more will be commended with a pass with merit. Candidates that score 130 or more will be commended with a pass with distinction.

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