jeudi 9 mai 2013

Graded Exams for Musical Instruments

By Anita Hale

You've probably heard your friends that play musical instruments refer to the "grade" they are currently on. This means a standard they have reached on that instrument. It is assessed via an exam. Three different currently award these exam grades and qualifications in music. London College of Music and Trinity College London are two of them. But the ABSRM is by far the biggest of the three. ABSRM stands for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. It offers music exams in over 35 different instruments. The aim of their exams is to offer inspiration to musicians while setting a benchmark of musical standards for them.

The ABRSM offers jazz exams, theory exams and practical musicianship exams. You'll find that the practical exams are the ones most people are familiar with. These carry 35 different syllabuses, tailored to a particular instrument. In addition, the exams themselves carry with them the award of a grade. Beginners start with taking the grade one exam. The top exam is for grade eight.

Let us examine what occurs during a practical music exam. Each exam is broken down into four separate sections. The first section is known as "set pieces". This requires the student to play three pieces of music that they have selected from the course syllabus. They will have chosen these pieces well in advance and practiced them thoroughly. However, they are also allowed to bring the sheet music into the exam with them. Every two years the syllabus will get reviewed and new set pieces added. During the exam the student will need to score a minimum of 20 out of 30 to pass the set pieces section.

Scales and arpeggios form the next part of the exam. This is where the examiner will request a number of scales or arpeggios. The student will then have to play these from memory. The maximum mark for this section is twenty-one. The minimum mark to pass is fourteen.

The aural component is based on listening and testing the student's ear for music. Here the examiner will play the instrument and then issue instructions or ask questions. A spoken, clapped or sung response will be required. To pass the aural section the student must get at least 12 marks out of 18.

The last part of the exam is sight-reading. This is regarded as a particularly tricky section of the exam because the candidate must play from a piece of music that they haven't seen before. They are allowed a thirty second preparation period to study the music and practice it during this time. Then they must play the piece to the best of their ability. This section carries a total of 21 marks with 14 needed for a pass.

The total number of marks for a practical music exam is 150. To pass the exam the candidate must get at least 100 marks. Extra credit is given for higher scores. A pass with merit is warded to those who score at least 120 marks. A pass with distinction is awarded for scoring at least 130 on the exam.

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