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14 January 2021

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ABRSM Performance Grades - All you need to know.

ABRSM Performance Grades - All you need to know.


From the latter end of 2020 the ABRSM started rolling out their new performance grades based on a video upload of four pieces as opposed to the previous model of three pieces plus scales, aural and sight reading and in this article,  I will go through everything you need to know in order to get a distinction in your performance exam.

First of all you will need to understand the logistics of how to prepare your video.

The performance must be a continuous video done in one take without any editing, where the performer and his instrument are in clear view. In the case of the piano this should include the pedals and if you have an accompanist they should also be visible, although not the main focus.

This video must be taken from a static position, i.e. using a tripod rather than someone holding the camera. A simple set up using a selfie stick and mini tripod works well such as the one below
 

At the beginning of your video you need to announce your name, instrument, grade, what pieces you’re going to perform and show a downloadable program form available HERE

Also, if you are taking a higher grade, that is 6-8, you will need to show some photographic ID.

If your fourth piece is from a different syllabus, you also need to show the title and opening few bars to the camera.

Finally, if the performer is under 18, a responsible adult must be in the room at the time of recording and also sign a declaration form when uploading to the ABRSM.

So those are the main logistics out of the way. If you have any further questions, please ask with a comment below.

How the exams are marked and what the examiner is looking for. 

There are 150 marks in total available for these exams, just like the old face to face exams and pieces still get 30 marks each. For more information on how the pieces are marked check out my video on “How to get a distinction at ABRSM - Pieces” below.



However there is a fifth element called “The Performance as a Whole” which is also worth 30 marks. In this the examiner will be looking for the following:


Communication:
This means playing with conviction and commitment similar to the “performance” aspect on which the individual pieces are marked. However here a good mark involves a consistency throughout the whole exam, not just in one piece.

Sequencing and pacing: The choice and order of your pieces matter. Try to pick pieces that show a variety of styles and thus your ability to communicate in more than just one type of music. This applies to not just a variety of periods, but also moods and tempi. And when you construct your programme, try to create contrast between pieces that are next to each other. It maybe a good idea to start and finish with livelier pieces, a slow 2nd piece and a playful 3rd. The pacing of your performance, refers to not rushing from one piece to the next. Just like in a real concert, give a moment at the end of a piece, to let the atmosphere “settle” before scrambling to turn the page to the next piece.

Interpretation: Like the mark awarded in the individual pieces, the examiner will be looking for your musical ability, to understand consistently throughout the range of styles that you have chosen, how well you can convey the composers’ intentions.

Delivery: This refers to your technical abilities, how well you have mastered your instrument and can perform all the demands of the pieces you have chosen. Again, this mark is based on a consistent level demonstrated throughout your performance, so for a merit, the marking criteria mentions,
 “Mostly effective instrument management”
and for a distinction the wording is
 “Consistently effective instrument management”
Just to finish, sometimes, reading the examiner's comments gives us a good idea of what they are looking for. This is the comment for the “performance as a whole” received by one of my Skype students who recently got a distinction in their grade 6 piano.

Notice phrases such as “consistent sense of performance” and “range of styles were convincingly interpreted

ABRSM Performance Grades

21 November 2020

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01 November 2020

Music Theory Practice - A Complete Course for Grades 1-5 - NEW for 2021

Following the recent changes in the ABRSM Theory syllabus, MusicOnline UK is pleased to announce a NEW Edition of the workbook

 Music Theory Practice - A Complete Course for Grades 1-5

NEW for 2021


In the new online theory exams ABRSM The requirement to demonstrate accurate copying of music has been removed although in this book there are still written exercises, less emphasis is placed on writing as this is no longer required in the exams
Other changes in the syllabus reflected in this new edition Grade 2: candidates currently have a choice of the harmonic or melodic form of minor scales. This is changing to harmonic. Grade 3: questions about phrase structure are no longer included. Grade 5: identifying the progression 6/4 5/3 (Ic-V) is no longer be required. Grade 5: the requirement that candidates can recognise and name perfect, plagal and imperfect cadences has been added. Currently candidates have to indicate suitable chord progressions for two cadences – now they have to name those cadences.

The ABRSM have themselves published a new series of workbooks ranging from £6-8 per grade WITHOUT ANSWERS (these need to be purchased separately for nearly the same price again) whereas we are offering this workbook complete with explanations, questions and answers for ALL grades 1-5 for just £12.99.

This is only newly published, so there are no reviews as yet, but below are some reviews of the 1st edition:

Emma Dymott

 Invaluable resource for music progression. 4 January 2020
Fantastic progressive programme of study set out in an easy to use format. Featuring questions at the end of each section as a tool for self-assessment.
This book has become an invaluable resource for my children in their music study.

Sarah Vining

 Handy all-in-one theory guide 15 November 2019
Really useful and practical book which contains everything within its pages. It has replaced lots of separate sheets of homework for us and my son is enjoying working his way through it like a puzzle book!

Curly

 Very handy book! 3 November 2019
Very informative book, easy to understand great with content. Will certainly help my daughter!


tin

 Good Learning and Practice for ABRSM Exams 30 October 2019
Really like the progressive theory lessons with practise sheets and have helped my daughter a lot with her ABRSM progression.

Paul Sims

 Fantastic book and everything you need to know 30 October 2019
Fantastic book and laid out so clearly. Thus will defo it rly help with the theory test.

Lucy J.

 Very useful - Definitely Recommend! 17 October 2019
Very easy to locate the topics that I need to practise on. Also, I like how there is the information on one page and then you have the chance to do some practice questions on the page after.

Find all real Amazon reviews HERE