Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation
Before seeing the tests, the examiner will ask whether the candidate wishes to perform a piece of sight reading or take a test of improvisation and interpretation. Once the candidate has decided, they cannot change their mind.
Candidates will be given a short piece of previously unseen music to play, unaccompanied. The piece will be between 8 and 10 bars long, in the key of A, E or Eb major, or E minor.
Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise, after which they will perform the test. Before the practice time begins, candidates can ask if they would like to hear the tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear the tempo before the assessed part of the test begins.
Improvisation & Interpretation
Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression to improvise a melodic line over, to complement the backing track. The chord progression will be 12 bars long, in the key of C major or A minor. Progressions in C major may contain the non-diatonic chords C7, F7, D7 and Fm; progressions in A minor may feature an E7 chord. All progressions may contain occasional slash chords and inversions. The tempo will be crotchet = 90.
Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout the practice time or a 1-bar count in at the beginning. After the practice time, the backing track will be played twice. Candidates can rehearse during the first playthrough, before performing their improvisation over the second playthrough. Only the improvisation over the second playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with a 1-bar count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count in to the second playthrough will start immediately.
Candidates will be given a test of melodic recall.
The examiner will play a melody. Candidates will then play back the melody to a drum backing. The melody will be a 2-bar diatonic melody in the key of B major, starting on the root note, with a range of up to a sixth above. The melody may contain minims, crotchets and quavers (half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes). The tempo will be crotchet = 95.
The test will be played twice, each time preceded by 4 clicks. Following the second playthrough candidates will be given a further 1-bar count in, after which they should play the melody back to the drum backing.
General Musicianship Questions
Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these will be music knowledge questions, based on any one of the pieces performed in the exam, the fifth will be about knowledge of the candidate’s own instrument. Candidates can use brief demonstrations to support their verbal explanations.
There will be four music knowledge questions in relation to one of the pieces performed in the exam. Candidates will be asked which piece they would like to be asked about. If the candidate’s copy of the chosen piece contains extensive handwritten notes the examiner may either use their own version of the score as the basis for the questions or they may request that candidates select a different piece.
Candidates may be asked to:
- Explain the meaning of the key signature and state the pitches of its accidentals
- State two consecutive pitches up to a fifth apart (including any accidentals and ledger lines)
- State up to three rhythmic values (which will include at least one note value and one rest value)
- Explain the meaning of the tempo marking
- Identify and explain two of the following:
- Any dynamic marking found (p, mf etc)
- Any articulation marking (slurs, staccato, legato, tenuto etc)
- Any navigational markings (repeat bars, first/second time endings etc)
- Any ornaments (grace notes, turns etc)
There will be one question about the candidate’s knowledge of their instrument, chosen by the examiner from the list below.
Candidates may be asked to explain:
- How to execute vibrato technique