If pupils wish they are able to take graded exams and diplomas. Exams are offered from grades 1-8 with grade 8 being the highest non-professional standard in instrumental performance. I enter all exam candidates through the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). There are also examinations offered in music theory and grade 5 theory is a requirement in order to take grade 6 piano.
"It is well worth remembering that...it is the progress made during this preparation period that really matters"Clara Taylor, Chief Examiner, ABRSM
I prepare pupils for exams as part of a well rounded curriculum. It is important to remember that exams can be a good milestone and target to aim for but they are not intended to be used as a curriculum. It is very important that pupils study other music, as exam pieces can make very good test pieces, but are often lacking in educational value.
"exam syllabuses are not intended to provide a complete curriculum"Clara Taylor, Chief Examiner, ABRSM
100% of pupils that have taken exams with me have passed them, with a considerable proportion achieving distinctions and many achieving marks over 140.
A graded exam takes a lot of preparation, we have to prepare set pieces, perform numerous scales and arpeggios from memory, undertake aural tests and sight-reading tests. There is a lot to prepare and, whilst I always seek to have pupils progress as quickly as possible, it is very important not to cut corners as ultimately this will store up problems for pupils and they will inevitably give up.
"the next grade may seem to be the most important step, it usually takes a year between grades, and an exam syllabus, however interesting and comprehensive, is not an ideal musical diet for this entire period"Clara Taylor, Chief Examiner, ABRSM
This is why it is essential to use examinations as part of a well rounded curriculum that focuses on all aspects of music making
Diplomas are offered by different boards but the main contenders are ABRSM and Trinity. Both are equally challenging. Both offer diplomas at three levels;
- DipABRSM or ATCL
- LRSM or LTCL (Licentiate)
- FRSM or FTCL (Fellowship)
For young talented pupils the DipABRSM or ATCL is achievable prior to attending university.