Latest Exam News: Updated 17 June


Thank you for clicking through to this page from the Music Teachers’ Association’s Annual Conference 2021.

As ABRSM’s team of Regional Development Executives (RDEs), we work closely with many schools, music hubs and services across the UK. We offer support and advice on everything from helping you to make the most of our exam pathways and new booking service through to new syllabus resources and teacher CPD.

We appreciate that the past year has presented challenges for the music education sector few of us could have foreseen. We’d like to thank you for your support in continuing to inspire musical achievement for our young people.

Below we’ve compiled a series of links relating to our latest developments as well as some of our more established products and services which we hope you’ll find helpful and informative.

While we can’t meet in person this year, we’d still love to hear from you to discuss how ABRSM can support your organisation further. To arrange a video or telephone call, please click ‘Get in touch’ below to make contact with the RDE for your region – and this doesn’t just need to be during the conference, so if the coming weeks would be better then do get in touch and we can get something in the diary.

Best wishes,

Sarah, Kerry, James and Jenna.

Sarah Walker

South West and West Midlands

Kerry Baldwin

North West England, East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humber

James Welburn

London, South East and East England

Jenna Main

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Performance Grades - NEW remotely-assessed exam option for Grades 1 – 8, plus ARSM

We believe everyone has the right to enjoy and excel at music. We also understand that everyone’s musical journey is different. This is why we’re committed to creating new, flexible opportunities for people to achieve their goals. For the exam, candidates perform four pieces or songs (there are no supporting tests) with examiners awarding marks for each piece as well as marks for the performance as a whole. The exam is assessed from a video recording. Candidates choose three pieces from the current syllabus as well as a free-choice piece of the same standard. A permanent addition to the ABRSM offer, these new exams are equal in value to the Practical grades and are available to enter more frequently. Next booking window: 2 – 9 June for exam submissions in July 2021.

Music Theory – NEW online exam

Music Theory exams for Grades 1 to 5 are now online and we’re moving towards an on-demand experience! Moving online is the result of long-term development to ensure that we can offer greater flexibility of exams dates, greater accessibility and convenience in an increasingly blended learning environment. As part of our developments we have updated some of the questions at Grades 1 to 5 to bring them in line with a style of assessment commonly used across the education sector. In addition, there are a few minor changes to the syllabus itself. Grades 6 – 8 exams, will remain paper-based.

Discovering Music Theory – An exciting and accessible NEW suite of workbooks

To complement our new online exam and to support the teaching and learning of music theory, we are excited to introduce Discovering Music Theory. These brand new, colourful resources provide all-round preparation for our Music Theory assessments, as students move to an online exam. Developed with experts in the field, there are five graded workbooks and corresponding answer books that offer all-round preparation for our new theory exams at Grades 1 to 5. Suitable for all ages! Pair with Music Theory Sample Papers to ensure you go into the exam room with confidence!

Introduction to Performance Grades – Free Webinar!

Due to popular demand, we have announced more dates for ABRSM’s ‘Introduction to Performance Grades’ webinar, led by Chief Examiner John Holmes. This free webinar will provide helpful understanding and insights into ABRSM’s Performance Grades. During the webinar, John Holmes will explain the rationale behind these assessments, how ABRSM examiners mark Performance Grades and how this different kind of exam can benefit a student as part of their musical learning journey. There will also be a live Performance Grades Q&A session with John following each webinar. Book your place today!

Singing for Musical Theatre Syllabus – Spotlight your singing skills!

From Gershwin to Sondheim, the West End to Disney, the songs in our new syllabus span the world of musical theatre across stage and screen! Each song has been carefully selected to aid singers with the skills required to progress in their musical theatre journey - there is plenty of choice to inspire you to take centre stage! Now available for Performance Grades 1 to 8 and Practical Grades 1 to 5, this exam offers a wonderful opportunity for you to explore a variety of songs, develop musical skills and receive an internationally recognised qualification.

NEW Piano Syllabus – Introducing Initial Grade, duets up to Grade 3 and new scales requirements

We recently published our Piano 2021 & 2022 syllabus, in which you can expect an even wider range of repertoire choices, new scales requirements, as well as a brand new Initial Grade assessment and duet option up to Grade 3.

Piano Publications – supporting pianists on their musical journeys

To coincide with the new Piano Syllabus, we’re delighted to have launched our new Piano Scales & Arpeggios publications, covering Initial to Grade 8 as well as the release of the exciting series Scale Explorer for Piano (Grades 1 to 5). Featuring engaging activities that bring scales to life through short pieces, improvisation, composition and exercises; these books bring learning scales to life. Additionally, check out our two new additions to the popular Piano Star series – Duets and Skills Builder.

Digital App Suite – From theory to aural and sight-reading to practising, there’s an app to help everyone

We believe that our apps provide invaluable support to learners, especially those who may not have a musical parent at home to offer support and advice.

On offer you’ll find:

  • Music Theory Trainer – bringing music theory to life with fun and engaging challenges at Grades 1 to 5.
  • Scales Trainer - our redesigned, revamped, fun Piano Scales Trainer is your all-in-one companion for practising the new scales requirements. Also available for Violin!
  • Aural Trainer - our award-winning apps offer an exciting way for students to practise aural skills and are available for Grades 1 to 5 and 6 to 8.
  • Sight-Reading Trainer – be smart about how you practise sight-reading with ABRSM Sight-Reading Trainer
  • Practice Partners for singing, piano, woodwind and strings - a simple way to make practising pieces for your ABRSM exam more musical, enjoyable and rewarding

Music Medals – Duets, trios and quartets in an exciting range of styles that recognise and reward

These teacher-led assessments are for younger learners. They build on what's already taught in group lessons and enable students to gain individual recognition for their hard work. There are five progressive levels. Copper and Bronze are stepping stones to Grade 1 while Silver, Gold and Platinum reward further progress. Available for strings (violin, viola, cello, double bass and guitar), woodwind (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, recorder and saxophone), brass (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, E flat horn, French horn, baritone, trombone, euphonium and E flat tuba) and electronic keyboard.

Classical 100 – An invaluable, FREE classroom resource that will bring classical music to life!

This fabulous classroom resource was developed by industry experts with a wealth of teaching knowledge and professional experience in compiling syllabuses and other educational materials, and has been rigorously tested by a broad community of teachers, music services and music education experts. It is now available for home use so parents and children can continue to engage with musical activities away from the classroom!

Percussion Syllabus – A totally flexible approach to progressing in orchestral percussion

Our innovative, exciting Percussion Syllabus features over 80 newly commissioned pieces. There are exams at Grades 1-8 in Snare Drum, Timpani and Tuned Percussion as individual, standalone subjects, alternatively we offer a Percussion (Combined) exam at Grades 1-8 to allow candidates to demonstrate their skills in all three subjects. Already, we have been truly bowled over by the response to this new syllabus with sales a testament to how well it has been received by percussion tutors worldwide.

View our full range of publications on our online shop at:

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