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Accompaniment update

7 months ago

At the end of July, we are updating our requirements for accompaniment in exams. Read on to find out what candidates need to do from 1 August 2022.

During the Covid-19 pandemic we relaxed our live accompaniment requirement for instrumental and singing exams. These special arrangements end on 31 July 2022 and from 1 August candidates in the UK and Ireland must have accompaniment when performing set pieces published with an accompaniment or duet part. For digital Performance Grades, we are making recorded accompaniment a permanent option alongside live accompaniment.

What are the requirements from 1 August?

  • Face-to-face Practical Grades – candidates must perform with live accompaniment.
  • Digital Performance Grades – candidates can choose live or recorded accompaniment or a mix of both.
  • ARSM diplomas (face-to-face and digital) – candidates must perform with live accompaniment.

Why recorded accompaniment for Performance Grades?

Recorded accompaniment was one of the options available to candidates taking our digital exams during the pandemic. Based on our positive experience of assessing these exams, we have decided to allow recorded accompaniment permanently for Performance Grades.

While we always encourage live music making, we know that it can sometimes be difficult to access and rehearse with accompanists. In these cases, performing with a good recorded accompaniment with plenty of rehearsal time provides an alternative that allows candidates to prepare for and do their best in the exam.

Recorded accompaniment provides many benefits, but will not always be the best option. Individual circumstances will affect the musical outcome and it is up to candidates and teachers to choose the best form of accompaniment for an exam. This decision will be influenced by a number of things, such as the instrument or style of singing, level of exam, choice of repertoire and ease of access to an accompanist. 

If candidates do choose to perform with a recorded accompaniment, then ideally this should be one that’s been specially-created by a pianist or duet partner so that it can match the candidate’s musical choices.

Candidates can use a mix of live and recorded accompaniment if they want to and examiners will continue to assess all Performance Grades in exactly the same way, whatever the form of accompaniment.

By accepting recorded accompaniment, we are offering more choice to candidates and those helping them to prepare for exams. We hope that this additional option opens up access to our exams and encourages more learners to progress with their music making.

Additional guidance

We’re planning to publish detailed guidance on using recorded accompaniments on our Performance Grade pages on 7 July.

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