New Remotely-assessed Performance Grades in ABRSM

July 1, 2020, 7:28 AM · Hello, what is your take on the new additional option for Grades awarding by ABRSM where kids can play four pieces and be awarded a grade. My kid has reached grade 8 and was supposed to sit this in March. Now she is delighted by the option not to have to demonstrate scales, arpeggios, aural or do sight reading by just opting to play 4 pieces of a very well known and loved repertoire. I would be glad for her to do this but did wonder if this grade will have an equal weight as practical exam as to a natural performer the new option is just joy. Kids who have to work on all the scales and keep their head for aural & sight reading in my view have worked much harder but our teacher thinks that there will be no difference in evaluating a grade 8 candidate for any future options according to the type of exam they sat with ABRSM. What are your views please.

Replies (2)

July 1, 2020, 9:23 AM · Firstly, congratulations to your daughter for reaching grade 8 , that is respectable!

I think it is a really good way forward for ABRSM, constantly expanding their range of assessments for all sorts of learners, they seem to be working really hard on improving their inclusivity.

ABRSM have made it fairly clear on their website that these remotely assessed exams are seen as equal. Whether they are deemed as equal by others, is entirely different. I don't know what the certificates will look like, will it say "Grade 8 violin" or "Grade 8 violin remotely assessed"? If the former, then I don't think people will care all that much. Some may do though, so be prepared for that.
https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-booking/remotely-assessed-performance-focused-exams-your-questions-answered/

I would say the option is very much child/student centred. I have been using the MTB exams more recently (pre-Covid) for two of my students, who suffer from really awful nerves, and it provides a very relaxed and comfortable environment for them to really excel in.

As a student, I really did not like scales, and the Trinity exam board offered a way around that in the higher grades, which I loved when I was younger. (Still do to some extent).

Scales, sightreading and aural tests are all really important skills for musicians, so should not be negated. Scales are important parts of warm ups, sightreading is a good skill when caught in a pinch or last minute performance. Aural is a huge part of being able to play effectively in an ensemble, being able to pitch well, and singing is generally rather enjoyable in a not test setting!

Adding the fourth piece instead of having the supplement tests, will require students using this method to work hard in a different way.

Grade 8 carries UCAS points too, which is very handy in the UK for university applications.

I would also encourage that if your daughter plans to go to a conservatoire, then having good scales and technique, aural etc, will go a long way towards her succeeding. In fact, these go a long way towards succeeding in any musical sphere.

Let us know what you decide, and good luck with the exam when the time comes!

July 1, 2020, 9:53 AM · I wouldn't worry about the difference between the two exams.

To any non-musician (or university), one Grade 8 is the same as any other.

A musician (or a teacher, music college, or youth orchestra) might know the different between the two Grade 8s, but they won't put a high weight on what exams you have done in any case, for them it will all be about how your child performs and/or learns.

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