Please note: as of 1st September 2017 EMS will no longer run its exam entry service. This is due to the fact that parents and teachers obtain more flexibility over arrangements if organised themselves and the entry processes are now easy to follow and largely online.

The following page intends to help teachers and parents, choose, prepare for and apply for music exams.

Graded Music Exams:

Music examinations are a method of formally assessing the accomplishments of pupils learning musical instruments. These are often called grades. There are a number of organisations who provide assessment in musical ability which are open to all.

Music exams are set in both theory and practical aspects. The theory examinations are taken by pupils of all instruments and typically cover areas such as musical notation, construction of scales and composition. The practical exams concentrate on the particular instrument favoured by the pupil, for example piano, guitar or flute. They cover elements such as playing set pieces, technical work including scales, sight reading, aural, musical knowledge and improvisation.

Music exams are graded from 1 to 8, with Grade 1 being the entry level, and Grade 8 being the standard required for entry to higher study in a music college. Additionally, most exam boards offer Initial level qualifications as a useful preparation before the Grade 1 exam.

 Associated Board
 RockSchool rslawards.com 
 London College of Music including Registry of Guitar Tutors lcme.uwl.ac.uk
 Trinity College of Music
 Victoria College Exams vcmexams.co.uk
 National College of Music & Arts nat-col-music.org.uk 

Choosing an exam board:

All exam boards are different and this can be very daunting for a new pupil, parent and even teacher. The best advice will come from your teacher, although we hope to give you some help below.

Please note these points:

  • No one board is better or harder than another – they just test different things in different ways.
  • You can swap between boards as you progress up the grades.
  • This article only deals with individual music exams. It is possible to take exams as a group – please see specific exam board website for details.

Differences in exam boards:

Click on the charts to zoom in.

Booking your exam:

Things to remember once you have chosen which board and exam to go for:

  • Organise an accompanist: For most instruments, you will need an accompanist to play the piano part of the pieces during the exam. Your teacher may well be able and willing to do this, and if not, they should be responsible for finding an accompanist for the exam. There will be an extra charge for this service. Some ideas on finding an accompanist can be found at the bottom of this page.
  • Don’t miss the deadline: Each exam board has specific exam windows of about 5 weeks. These are normally towards the end of each term. Therefore, the deadline for exam entries being received is normally in the first couple of weeks of each term.
  • Information: Make sure you have all the information needed from your child’s teacher before going to book the exam (what grade, which exam, etc.). Your teacher may book it for you if you are lucky!

On the day:

The day of the exam can be quite a stressful time for a pupil who is not prepared for the experience. However, if your child knows what will happen, knows the pieces, scales etc. really well and is looking forward to the experience, things should go well.

As a parent, make sure you know where you are going, where to park, what time the exam is etc. There is nothing worse than feeling apprehensive about an exam with a super-stressed parent getting frustrated with the satnav!

To help prepare your child, take them through the procedure for the day, discuss how well they think they will do and make sure they know that failing is an acceptable option. Advice on taking exams can be found in “These Music Exams“, as published by ABRSM.

Local piano accompanists available for exam preparation

The following pianists may be available for exam accompaniment and pre-examination rehearsals. Please feel free to contact them should you require their services. This is purely a list of local accompanists. EMS do not guarantee the quality or DBS status of these accompanists.

Important Information
We request sight of DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) certificates before sign-posting private individuals**, however, the safety and well-being of your child(ren) remains your responsibility at all times. We also recommend that you ask for sight of their DBS certificate and satisfy yourselves of the their identity.

** Apart from staff employed by Ealing Council, we do not require private individuals to refresh their DBS checks every 3 years and, therefore, any subsequent offences may not be brought to our attention.

Julija Kalnobricka
Tel: 07779 105 537
Email: julijaedms@yahoo.com

You may also search for accompanists at musicteachers.co.uk

Comments ( 1 )
  1. i need simple tricks to prepae exams please let me know

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