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ABRSM remote exams announcement


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#1 Doodle

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 10:04

Have you seen this?!  I think I'm a bit surprised. I saw it on their homepage....

 

  Remotely-assessed graded music exams: an update
0 days ago

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In August, we are aiming to launch performance-focused graded music exams in the UK that will be assessed remotely, based on a recorded submission. Penny Milsom, our Executive Director of Products and Services, is leading the team developing these qualifications, and we asked her to give us a preview.

Firstly, how are preparations going?

It’s exciting that we are in the final stages of the design, which means we have some information to share, but not complete answers to everything right now. I hope this preview can provide answers to some of the questions that teachers, learners, parents and schools may have. We are preparing comprehensive information about the exams and will share it well in advance of opening bookings, to allow everyone to consider them and prepare.

By way of background, these assessments are very much part of our long-term plan to support teachers and learners, but we also hope that they will provide an opportunity for learners whose plans have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. For candidates who missed an exam earlier in the year or who would like to take an exam in the coming months, these remotely-assessed exams based on a recorded submission provide a route to achieving their grade.

Can you tell us more about the concept of the qualification?

For some time we’ve been working on a qualification that puts performance at the heart of the learning and assessment experience and is designed around the practical realities of the performance situation. These exams will provide an additional, robust and valid route for learners to have their achievements recognised and be awarded a regulated qualification.

Our performance-focused graded exams will provide a learning and assessment experience that focuses on the preparation and presentation of a ‘whole performance’ - from choosing the repertoire and creating a programme, to interpreting and communicating the music. They will offer learners the chance to represent their own musical interests, aspirations and personality. By being in charge of their own performance, candidates have both greater freedom of choice about the programme and increased personal responsibility.

For these exams, candidates will need to deliver a sustained performance of their chosen programme, demonstrating the focus and stamina necessary for effective musical communication across a range of repertoire. For this reason, the assessment will include a separate set of marking criteria, which take into account the performance as a whole, applied after the playing or singing has finished. This ‘dual lens’ approach to the assessment makes this a distinct exam, equivalent in demand to our existing practical grades.

These qualifications are unique in focusing on musical performance skills in this way, offering a related but separate progression path alongside our face-to–face practical exams. The recorded submissions will be assessed to the same high standards as our existing graded exams, by the same team of highly-trained ABRSM examiners.

The fact that they are examined remotely means that we will be able to offer these exams widely to candidates in other countries while managing our carbon footprint. As a global organisation that delivered over 600,000 exams in 2019, we are purposefully moving our activities onto a more environmentally sustainable footing and remote examining means we can reduce the amount of travel our examiners undertake.

What will taking a performance-focused grade involve?

The repertoire at the heart of the exams will be the same as that presented for our existing exams. Candidates prepare a programme of four pieces or songs. They choose at least three of the pieces/songs from our existing syllabus-listed repertoire for the grade – one from each list as for our existing exams. For the fourth piece/song, candidates can choose another item from the syllabus at the same grade or choose a piece/song from any other published source, as long as the level of difficulty is the same. For the exam, candidates present their pieces/songs in the order they choose and without a break, to create a whole performance that demonstrates their musical tastes, strengths and personality.

How will they be marked?

As with our existing grades, a total of 150 marks is available overall. The four pieces/songs will be marked individually using the same criteria as our existing grades, with a maximum of 30 marks for each item. A further 30 marks are then available for the ‘performance as a whole’. This part of the assessment will have its own distinct marking criteria based on the current ARSM criteria but adjusted to suit Grades 1 to 8.

Will these exams be available for all grades and subjects?

They will be available for Grades 1 to 8 for all our instrumental and singing syllabuses, except for Jazz subjects. We will also be offering our current ARSM diploma as a remotely-assessed exam, with no change to the requirements or marking scheme. Because these exams put the focus on performance and take place in the candidate’s chosen space, we also hope they will be an attractive option for learners with a range of specific needs.

Can learners switch between these exams and ABRSM’s existing graded exams?

Yes. At any stage of their musical journey, learners can now choose between two graded music exam routes. They can choose to do remotely-assessed, performance-focused exams entirely from Grade 1 upwards, or switch between these and our existing graded exams, depending on their preference at the time.

How can teachers and learners get ready for these performance-focused exams?

If learners have been working towards one of our existing graded music exams and are interested in taking a remotely-assessed exam, now is the time to start thinking about or learning a fourth piece or song. This can be the learner’s own choice, as long as it’s the same level of difficulty as the other pieces in our syllabus for the grade. They may already have a piece or song that’s ready to go and will work well. Just remember to think also about the performance as a whole, with the pieces or songs fitting together to create a convincing programme that the candidate can perform with enjoyment and confidence.

Remotely-assessed exams will initially be available in the UK only. We will provide more information about these performance-focused exams in the coming weeks by email and on our website and social media channels. To receive the latest email updates, you will need to have an ABRSM account and opt in to our marketing communications.

 


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#2 Hildegard

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 12:37

So, no scales, no aural and no sight reading. I wonder how much they will charge for Grade X lite?


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#3 pianoliz

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 16:36

Hmm - they mentioned online exams in August previously. To me that meant as close as possible to the real thing as they could - certainly scales and sightreading. Is this as well as that? Or is this what they’re offering until face to face exams resume?? I’ve got so many pupils working ridiculously hard and hoping to take their grades over the summer, but this is very different.
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#4 ma non troppo

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 16:57

It is a "Lite" exam - I do think this devalues the standard grades. It needs to be clearly labelled as a different qualification.

Three year 13 grade 8 people and their reaction - two want to wait for "proper exams " to resume. One wants to "register an interest" for the adapted June one but remains unconvinced.

All are learning other pieces so could easily pop a fourth one in by August. I haven't asked them yet - but two come from big musical families where the whole tribe has grade 8 piano - it is a rite of passage for them. I think I know what their answers will be.
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#5 Norway

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 17:07

I wonder whether candidates will get UCAS points for these. I have a grade 6 whose scales sight reading and aural are fine anyway, and it wouldn't hurt her to learn an extra piece of her choice and have the experience of recording a full programme. But she would like the UCAS points for uni if possible.


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#6 The Cat

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 17:19

I am hoping to do Grade 4 piano this year but I'm not sure about this option. I've been working hard on scales and sight reading plus my piano is badly in need of tuning which obviously can't happen at the moment. I'm also wondering about the best way of recording. I sometimes use my mobile phone recording App but it's not the best sound quality.
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#7 Doodle

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 20:55

Exactly!  So many questions to be answered.  It will suit a little grade 1 pupil who is desperate to have some sort of certificate, even though he's already on his way to grade 2 really.  Plus, a grade 3 who had her exam cancelled in March would like to do it.

 

But still too many questions!


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#8 Yet another muso

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 00:19

ABRSM have spent their whole existence extolling the vital importance of scales, sight reading and aural skills, and now this! I understand it as a temporary response to the current situation, but introducing it as a positive long term alternative to the standard exams is really not going to help us teachers to develop rounded skills in our pupils. Of course it is up to us to choose, and we can simply not allow our students to do this new form of exam. However, once they are out there and they know their friends are getting to take grades by only doing their favourite bit (the pieces), it really doesn't help our cause. 

 

I hated practising my scales as a child and would probably have jumped at the chance to do an exam without them, but SO glad I had to learn them now!


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#9 jo.clarinet

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 05:55

Surely this is only of any use at all to piano candidates.......How are we meant to provide accompaniments for our other pupils? For most teachers who usually teach from home and are currently teaching online, the amount of space required for social distancing (especially for wind players and singers) would simply not be available in order to accompany them 'live', and playing to a pre-recorded track which allows for no flexibility, no latitude for stumbles, no give-and-take is hardly a musical experience..... 


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#10 ten left thumbs

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 08:08

LCM already has an option like this - the 'recital grade'. Not a dreadful thing in itself, but it does muddy the waters, long-term about what an ABRSM grade is.

 

It is curious there is no mention of accompanied pieces or songs. One could re-jig the whole syllabus toward unaccompanied pieces, however, that's not what they're suggesting. They do mention songs, so they're not just thinking of piano.


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#11 dorfmouse

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 09:46

Oh, ten left thumbs, really! You're far behind the times! Don't you know that any instrumental music is a "song' nowadays?
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#12 Ligneo Fistula

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 10:59

Sounds similar to https://www.conbrioexams.com/


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#13 edgmusic

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 13:01

And Trinity have had a similar Music Certificate syllabus for several years.

However I have no doubt the new ABRSM system will become a permanent alternative to the traditional one.

Financially much cheaper to administer and much 'greener'with examiners not having to travel.

But I bet the fees don't go down!
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#14 ten left thumbs

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 15:00

Oh, ten left thumbs, really! You're far behind the times! Don't you know that any instrumental music is a "song' nowadays? ????

Yes, I'm such a fuddy-duddy, I know. :)


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#15 Aquarelle

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Posted 23 May 2020 - 15:29

And Trinity have had a similar Music Certificate syllabus for several years.

However I have no doubt the new ABRSM system will become a permanent alternative to the traditional one.

Financially much cheaper to administer and much 'greener'with examiners not having to travel.

But I bet the fees don't go down!

So those of us who live  (whether inside or outside the UK)  anywhere where examiners might have to travel long distances are likely to find ourselves with only one option  - the "lite" version.  Or  I daresay if we wanted face to face exams we would find ourselves paying a lot more than for the 'lite" version. This could turn into yet another one rule for the rich pupil and another for the poor pupil  situation. And as for going on about the "green" side of it - when you look at where all our dead computers, cameras, phones, pads and the like end up I don't think there is much to choose.


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