Most of us in the music teaching community will have seen it by now - an ill-judged tweet by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) which stated that “Musical achievement is about how well you can do, how good you can get. That sense of attainment is tested by assessment which gives us intrinsic motivation to make us want to get better. That’s the virtuous circle of motivation.” (via Twitter, 24 September 2021).
Just as so many aspects of our normal daily lives have been severely disrupted or curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, so has the graded music exams system. The three main exam boards, ABSRM, Trinity College London (TCL) and London College of Music (LCM), cancelled physical face-to-face exams and both sought to offer candidates the opportunity… Continue reading MTB Exams – graded music exams for the digital age
This is a transcript of an article I wrote to accompany the release of Trinity College London's new piano syllabus, for which I also contributed teaching notes. Here I introduce the new piano syllabus for Grades 3 to 5 and explores some of my favourite pieces from the repertoire. For music examples, please see the… Continue reading New Trinity College London piano syllabus – exploring the repertoire
When coronavirus hit the UK, it became evident that normal life as we know it would have to change. This included the provision of graded music exams. The major exam boards swiftly cancelled the spring season's exams, which caused a great deal of frustration and disappointment to candidates and teachers who had been working so… Continue reading The benefits of online music exams
Theresa writes: I am ready to sit ABRSM G7 theory and practical exams but obviously cannot due to the current situation. I’ll continue with past exam papers but with my 3 performance pieces how do I stop getting stale/bored with them ? Can you suggest any ways I can vary practice ? I recently joined… Continue reading Coffee Shop Questions: Keeping exam repertoire fresh
For the musician looking to further their studies after Grade 8 Performance Diplomas offer a pathway to fully accredited professional qualifications, recognised by other musicians and music professionals around the world. A diploma, even at the lowest Associate level, is significantly more involved than Grade 8, requiring a high degree of attainment, combined with a… Continue reading New Diploma Syllabus from Trinity College London
The longer I teach (over 11 years at the time of writing), the more anti-exams I have become. For many - teachers, students and parents - exams are the visible benchmarks of progress, not just in music but in education in general. Children and young people are constantly tested, almost from the moment they enter… Continue reading Exam-obsessed?
I am continually surprised at how infrequently stagecraft is taught as a specific skill to developing musicians, from children taking graded music exams to students at music college. I think this stems in part from a misplaced view that stagecraft is only for "professional" musicians. Yet the ability to comport oneself well in a performance… Continue reading Faking it: stagecraft for graded piano exams and performance diplomas
I was delighted to act as a consultant in the selection of piano pieces for the new London College of Music (LCM) piano syllabus and I was impressed with the breadth and variety of music under consideration. When I received copies of the new handbooks, I was pleased to see some of the pieces I… Continue reading LCM piano grade handbooks 2018-2020
despite the best efforts of a sympathetic and well-organised teacher, many students feel consumed with anxiety when approaching their music exams