mercredi 29 mai 2013

How Do I Get a Grade in My Instrument?

By Anita Hale

It might seem a strange idea that students actively choose to sit exams that they don't have to. However, when learning a musical instrument this can be a very useful thing to do. Music exams give the student an opportunity to judge how they are progressing with their learning. The exams also give them a structured approach to learning both the practical and theoretical side of their instrument.

There are three different exam boards in the UK that set music graded exams. These are the ABRSM, Trinity College London and London College of Music. The ABRSM or Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music is the largest and most popular.

Students don't just sit music grades for their chosen musical instruments. ABRSM also offers music theory exams and jazz exams. But the practical exams for instruments are definitely the most popular. These begin at grade one for beginners and move all the way up to grade eight for experts.

Many students get worried about sitting the exam, but ABRSM are very transparent about what you need to know in order to pass. To begin with, each exam is broken down into four separate components. Component one focuses on the ability to play a piece of rehearsed music. It is know as the set pieces section. The student will have a choice of pieces to select from the course syllabus. They will have selected three pieces well in advance fo the exam and are expected to have practiced them thoroughly. They will also be allowed to play these pieces from sheet music. This component carries a total of thirty marks, with twenty required for a pass.

Next up is scales and arpeggios. This is where the student must play a number of scales and arpeggios in turn. The examiner will request each one individually. The total number of marks for the scales section is 21 and you must score a minimum of 14 to pass it.

The third section is the aural section. This requires a score of 12 out of 18 to pass. As "aural" suggests, this is all to do with listening skills. The examiner will play the instrument the student is taking and then asks questions based on what he has played. Sometimes the student will have to clap or sing as part of their answer.

Sight-Reading is the final component of an ABRSM graded exam. Some might argue that it is also the hardest part. This is due to the fact that students are required to play a piece of music that they have no prior knowledge of. The examiner will present them with some sheet music during the exam and give them thirty seconds rehearsal time. After this, the student must play the piece of music as best they can. They need fourteen marks out of twenty-one to pass sight-reading.

All in all, the total number of marks you can score on a music exam is 150. You will need to get at least 100 to pass and be awarded the grade. There are two higher levels you can also attain. If you score 120 you will be awarded a special commendation known as a "pass with merit". If you score 130 marks or more you will be awarded a "pass with distinction."

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