The Music Medal assessment begins with the Ensemble component, which is designed to help students develop the vital skills of leading the group, counting in, giving appropriate cues, listening, balancing and blending.
While preparing your Ensemble group, creating a relaxed atmosphere in which students can produce their best is vital.
Positioning the players so that they're facing each other allows them to exchange clear visual clues. When filming the Ensemble performance, it's essential that the student being assessed stands nearest to the camera and appears to the left of the screen. Try to fit the whole group on screen if possible.
Tuning should take place before the Medal is recorded and not during the assessment itself unless absolutely essential, as this slows down the filming process. Always bear in mind the guidelines and recommendations set out during your teacher-assessor training.
You should begin the video recording and ensure that verbal introductions are made before allowing pupils to begin the Ensemble performance.
Students should be encouraged where possible to lead their group during the assessment, gaining confidence by making eye contact with their peers and using gestures to communicate musical intentions. Developing this kind of independence is a gradual process that'll vary from pupil to pupil – as a result, you may need to encourage and assist your pupils by bringing the group in at the start or even conducting the entire performance.
All ensemble performances are to be played without the use of a piano, guitar or other harmonic accompaniment, or a CD backing track.
Teacher-assessors may arrange the lines of set ensemble pieces – other than the line taken by the student – to suit the instruments available to them, taking into account balance, timbre and related ensemble considerations. This is to accommodate the range of combinations of instruments being taught in groups.
Teacher-assessors may contribute to Ensemble performances by playing in a duet with the student at Copper and Bronze levels only, or by taking a line in a trio or quartet at any level.
Repeats may be played at the discretion of the teacher-assessor or student. However, those repeats that are essential to the musical structure must be observed.
Ornaments may be simplified or omitted – a more confident, simpler version is preferable to a performance becoming unrhythmic.
For Keyboard assessments, please read our further guidance.
After completing the Ensemble component of the Music Medal the student should begin preparation for their Solo performance.