The Australian Music Examination board (AMEB) is an independent organisation that examines students against a graded course of their own design.
- Exams are held twice yearly, towards the middle and the end of each year.
- The exact date (inconveniently) is only given 3 weeks before the exam.
- A complete beginner will generally take between 1-2 years of study before being competent enough to sit their first (Preliminary) exam.
- A practical examination does NOT only examine how well a student plays the instrument but rather the progress of a student in a holistic musical sense.
- The purpose of exams is to develop and acquire certain skills. There is no point in sitting an exam unless these skills are demonstrated. Therefore to sit an exam just for the purpose of moving to the next stage without the skills demonstrated is pointless.
- Sitting an exam unprepared or having to cram at the last minute is a deeply traumatic experience for most people.
- Exams are not internationally recognised, although they may carry some weight with schools and scholarships.
- Exams should be seen as a reward for work already done.
Piano forte syllabus
In general, practical examinations comprise the presentation of work in the following areas:
- Technical work (scales, arpeggios, etc.);
- pieces (including extra lists);
- aural tests;
- sight reading;
- general knowledge.
- Technical requirements for this syllabus are more in depth in comparison with the piano for leisure syllabus. There are more scales to learn for this syllabus.
- Pianoforte course involves slightly more preparation time due to the extra list requirement – with five pieces presented for examination in Grades 2–4 and six pieces in Grades 5–7.
- The candidate is examined on both their aural (rhythm, pitch, harmony, melody) and sight reading skills as well as general knowledge.
- From a Sixth Grade level, written examinations must also be undertaken in order for the Practical certificates to be awarded.
- It is simply unrealistic to expect all these requirements to be met in just a half hour a week lesson. Therefore at least 45min weekly lesson is highly recommended.
Piano for leisure syllabus
- Piano for leisure syllabus requires only 3 pieces to be played at the exam and lighter technical requirements (less scales to be played). As well as sight reading test and general knowledge test.
- ‘Piano for Leisure’ should not, however, be seen as a “lesser alternative”. This syllabus allows students to pursue classical or light classical piano, more contemporary repertoire, pop repertoire, jazz or any tailor-made combination of these styles that suits the candidate’s taste.
- ‘Piano for Leisure is also designed for students with busy activity schedules. Examination requirements are less than those for Pianoforte grades. It needs to be firmly understood, however, that this does not mean a lower standard in performance. Piano for Leisure is for students not intending to pursue keyboard performance as a principal focus. It is for those seeking life-enrichment through musical activity of a high standard.’
- Piano for Leisure is a way to encourage students to aspire to playing at a certain level but present an examination program that requires less preparation. Therefore, many of my students will sit for this exam.
- Usually students who undertake this syllabus do well with only half hour a week, although higher grades (grade 7 and 8) may require longer than half hour lessons.