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01/07/2020

ABRSM PERFORMANCE EXAMS – what’s involved

HOW TO BOOK

  • Exams are booked through the ABRSM online booking service. If you haven’t used it before, you’ll need to register and create an account before booking an exam. The person making the booking (the applicant) must be aged 18 or over.  
  • Before booking, you will need to have the following candidate information ready:
    • Contact ID (if known), name and date of birth
    • Grade and subject
    • Any access arrangements or reasonable adjustments
    • Email address for the candidate or parent/carer (compulsory for remotely-assessed exams)


SELECTING A DATE

  • When you book you can log in to select an ‘exam date’ from a list of available options. This ‘exam date’ is the final day on which you can submit the video recording through our online exam booking service.
  • While you must upload the recording by the time given on the ‘exam date’, you do not have to record the exam on that day. The candidate/applicant can choose when to record their exam performance.


EXAM LOCATION & TIME

  • The candidate/applicant chooses when and where to record the exam. This can be on any date, as long as the recording is ready to submit by the ‘exam date’ deadline.
  • The exam can take place in any suitable location with enough space and the necessary instruments available, including a piano for any accompaniments.

THE RESPONSIBLE ADULT

  • For candidates under 18, a responsible adult oversees the recording of the exam performance to make sure it takes place according to our Exam Regulations.
  • The responsible adult must be aged 18 or over. They could be the applicant (who booked the exam), teacher, parent/carer or the accompanist.
  • The responsible adult can help the candidate with the video-recording device and, if the candidate wishes, help with showing the programme form and own-choice repertoire to the camera and announcing the pieces/songs.


PHOTO ID

  • They should show their photo ID to the camera at the beginning of the recording (before they begin their performance).


PROGRAM FORM AND ANNOUNCEMENT

The candidate completes a programme form listing the pieces/songs they are performing which they show to the camera at the start of the recording.  They also show the opening of their own-choice repertoire. 
  • Details of what candidates need to include on the programme form, as well as downloadable forms to print and complete, will be available well in advance of the first booking period.
  • The candidate also announces the following information before their performance: their name, exam subject (instrument), grade, and the title, composer and syllabus details (where applicable) for each piece/song in the order they are going to perform them.


ACCOMPANIMENTS

Unless social distancing restrictions or other government guidelines are in place due to COVID-19, the standard accompaniment requirements apply. This means that for all pieces/songs published with an accompaniment, candidates must perform with a live accompaniment. Recorded accompaniments of any kind are NOT ALLOWED.

THE RECORDING

  • The exam should be recorded as an audio-visual file in one continuous ‘take’.
  • The recording must not be edited in any way after the exam.
  • Most smartphones, tablets and laptops will be suitable for recording the exam.
  • You should set the camera resolution at 720p – a lower resolution (e.g. 480p) may produce an unclear, grainy picture and higher resolutions are likely to result in files that are too large to upload.
  • You can record in landscape or portrait view.
  • Recordings must be in one of the following formats: MP4, WMV, MOV or MPG.
  • The file size must not be more than 2GB. If the resolution of the video is too high, the file may be too large or may be slow to upload. In these circumstances, you will need to compress the file to make sure it uploads successfully.
  • The camera should be static, with candidate and instruments clearly in view.
  • For accompanied exams, the accompanist should also be in view, although the candidate should be the main focus.
  • To submit an exam recording, the candidate or applicant uploads it via the ABRSM online exam booking service. They must do this by the published time on the ‘exam date’.
  • As part of the upload process, the candidate (if 18 or over) or the responsible adult (present at the time of the recording) completes a declaration to confirm that the recording was made in accordance with our regulations.
  • If the responsible adult is not also the applicant who made the booking, they must be present when the recording is uploaded so that they can complete the declaration.

21/06/2020

NEW - Sight Reading Trainer - from MusicOnline UK

Change The Way YOU Sight Read


Most students focus primarily on getting the notes the correct pitch at the expense of keeping the beat going. However, if you look at the ABRSM marking criteria for a sight reading test, the FIRST thing that is mentioned for a distinction is, “Fluent, rhythmically accurate” (followed by “accurate notes/pitch/key”).

Sight Reading Trainer will help change the way you sight read. It is not just a series of specimen sight reading tests like you can buy in the ABRSM Specimen Sight Reading Grade Books. The examples in this book are designed to be played with an accompanying audio track which can be downloaded for free HERE

This will improve your rhythm and fluency when sight reading. 





Another hindrance to effective sight reading is poor “Piano Geography”. This is the ability to feel your way around the piano without looking at your hands. Be honest - when you sight read, are you continually looking at your hands? It’s something I call, "watching vertical tennis", where your eyes travel up and down between hand and book for virtually every note or chord. No wonder your sight reading is hesitant and lacking fluency.

With this in mind, throughout the course there are some “Piano Geography” tests which MUST BE PLAYED WITHOUT LOOKING AT YOUR HANDS.

The third factor that will contribute to better sight reading is visualizing the music in your head (especially rhythm) before you even play a note and this includes how to use your preparation time effectively.

In an ABRSM exam for example, you are given 30 seconds to prepare. How you use this 30 seconds, is key to effective sight reading. 



DON'T just start playing from the beginning. Rather, the first thing you should do is get a sense of the key you are in and if you are taking an early Grade (1-2), simply find the hand position for each hand before playing a note. Throughout this course you will also find some “Instant Hand Position or Key Signature Recognition” tests.

Then, concentrating on the rhythm, try and visualize in your head how the music should sound, again before you even play a note. This will also include other stylistic markings such as dynamics and articulation. Getting the right pitch is only a small part of what the examiner is looking for. Below each test in this course, there will be hints of details to look out for, before you even play a note.

The last thing mentioned in the marking criteria for a distinction is “Confident presentation”. A sight reading test is an assessment on how well you can convey the music as a whole performance, NOT if you can recognise the pitches A, B, C etc - that is a theory exam!!

Finally - a word on mistakes. If you do miss a note, DON’T go back and correct it, you’ll only upset the flow and rhythm of the music and this effectively then counts as a 2nd mistake. You can’t erase the first mistake, and the examiner is not interested if you can improve on your wrong note, he wants to hear a performance of the music as a whole, which conveys as best you can, the character of the piece.


Now isn't it time you stopped leaving this vital skill to chance and actually did something to improve your sight reading.



13/06/2020

TRINITY adapted music exams in the light of COVID 19

Trinity College have launched a new digital assessment alternative for Music and Drama. This includes all solo grades, from Initial to Grade 8, and performance diplomas (excluding FTCL) and allows you to gain a regulated grade or diploma qualification.

All candidates wishing to enter for Music assessments can now submit a video recording of their work. This enables you to take the performance component of your graded exam in your own setting, e.g. at home, at school or with your music teacher. You simply perform your exam pieces to camera in one continuous performance and upload the performance.

Trinity will use this video to calculate the final result and provide candidates with a regulated qualification, without the need for any face-to-face assessment.

STRUCTURE

In this adapted syllabus, you perform your three pieces or songs (or four songs for Singing Grades 6–8), just as you would in a normal graded exam.

The adaptation involves assessment of a filmed performance of pieces or songs only, and the marks for the technical work and supporting tests sections of your exam will be calculated based
on your performance marks.

MARK SCHEME

3 Pieces - 22 marks each
Technical work and supporting tests - 34 marks as a calculated percentage
TOTAL 100

BOOKING & CONVERSION DEADLINES

All candidates must have booked or converted by the following dates:
•    25 June 2020 – Candidates intending on using the UCAS points as part of their higher education application
•    17 July 2020 – Candidates outside of the UK and Ireland
•    31 July 2020 – UK and Ireland candidates

Bookings can be made HERE

VIDEO UPLOAD DEADLINES

All candidates must have uploaded their video by the following dates:
•    10 July 2020 – Candidates intending on using the UCAS points as part of their higher education application
•    31 July 2020 – Candidates outside of the UK and Ireland
•    14 August 2020 – UK and Ireland candidates

More information can be found HERE