Latest exam updates

Performance Grades: Booking for June Performance Grades is open now until 13 May.

Performance Grade exams

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check our Dates and Fees page for details.

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Piano Star Skills Builder - Free webinar with David Blackwell and Karen Marshall

Friday 7 May - 12.00pm BST

Join bestselling authors David Blackwell and Karen Marshall for a free webinar introducing the latest title in the ABRSM Piano Star series: Piano Star Skills Builder. The Skills Builder book develops musicianship skills for young pianists who are working towards Initial Grade and beyond. It’s packed with engaging, musical pieces, games and exercises, all carefully designed to make clear links between repertoire, scales, sight-reading and aural skills.

The webinar will include:

  • An overview of the Skills Builder book and how it can be used with students working towards, at and beyond Initial Grade
  • Examples of the activities and games included in the book (which cover writing, listening and composing)
  • Live teaching demonstrations with Karen’s own students
  • An opportunity to ask your questions in a live Q&A with David and Karen
  • An exclusive set of free resources to use with the book
  • A special discount code for ABRSM’s online shop 

Above all, David and Karen will demonstrate how fun and appealing the book is for young players – making the development of technical skills a joy not a chore! 

…an impressive volume which will sit very nicely alongside both ABRSM Initial Grade itself and as a resource to be used more generally. The authors have put a lot of thought into the material and drawn on their many years of expertise. This is reflected in a clear way in which connections are made and reinforced throughout the book.” David Barton


Karen Marshall is a private, peri and classroom music teacher from York with 30 years experience. A regular ABRSM conference presenter, she is an experienced trainer and workshop leader with all her sessions steeped in coal face experience, love of music and teaching children. An award winning author she has written 24 publications to date including joint authorship of ABRSM Piano Star Skills Builder and co-editor of Piano Star Duets and Piano Star Grade 1 with David Blackwell.

Other titles with ABRSM include the Piano Encore series of four books spanning Grade 1 to 8. She also writes for Collins Music (Get Set! Piano Series) and Faber Music (Piano Trainer Series). A member of the British Dyslexia Association’s Music Committee she specialises in Multi-Sensory teaching and is trained in teaching music to special needs students. Karen is passionate about all children having access to a good quality music education.

David Blackwell is a freelance composer and arranger, especially of educational music for children. For ABRSM he edited Piano Mix, a graded anthology of arrangements for piano, and has written and edited books in the Piano Star series. He has also composed and arranged music in OUP’s Piano Time series, and, with Karen Marshall, has written piano books for HarperCollins and Faber.

With his wife Kathy he has written and published over 60 books for young string players with Oxford University Press, including the progressive repertoire and technique books in the Fiddle, Viola, and Cello Time series, and books of pieces for junior string ensemble. They have twice won the Music Industries Award for Best Educational Publication, and in 2017 received the ESTA UK Award for exceptional services to string teaching. His choral music is published in the UK and America, and for OUP he co-edited Carols for Choirs book 5 and the series Oxford Hymn Settings for Organists, six volumes of hymn preludes.

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