Arab States
Africa
America
Australasia
South East Asia
Southern Asia
Caribbean
Europe
flag-GBUNITED KINGDOM
Cello Initial Grade Cello

Cello Initial Grade exams consist of three pieces, scales, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Cello Initial Grade (2020–2023)

Pieces

Musicians learn to play an instrument to explore and perform repertoire, which is why pieces are at the core of the exam – candidates are asked to present three at each grade. The syllabus repertoire is organised into three lists which explore different traditions and styles, dating from the Renaissance period to the present day.

Choosing one piece from each list gives candidates the opportunity to play a balanced selection and demonstrate a range of skills. In this syllabus, the pieces are broadly grouped into lists by the characteristics of the music:

  • List A pieces are generally faster moving and require technical agility
  • List B pieces are more lyrical and invite expressive playing
  • List C pieces reflect a wide variety of musical traditions, styles and characters.

Most of the pieces require an accompaniment, as interacting with other musicians is an important musical skill, but there are also opportunities to choose solo pieces and develop confidence with unaccompanied playing.

We hope that by offering this variety in the syllabus, candidates will find music that inspires them and that they enjoy learning and performing.

Initial Grade Pieces

Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each. The full requirements and information for the pieces are explained after the lists.

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Sheila Nelson Fish Cakes and Apple Pie
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
2 Trad. German
arr. Blackwell
Lightly Row
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
3 Wohlfart
arr. Nelson
Polka
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
4 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Butterflies
No. 5 from Waggon Wheels
No. 5 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Cello
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200302)

More details
5 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Knickerbocker Glory
No. 11 from Waggon Wheels
No. 11 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Cello
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200302)

More details
6 Cutter
arr. Sassmannshaus
Little March (PF/VC)
(ending at b. 20)
Cello Recital Album, Vol. 1
Bärenreiter (BA 8994)

More details
7 Stanley Fletcher Sweet Eyed Sue (PF/VC)
No. 9 from New Tunes for Strings, Book 1
(with repeat using bowing variation 1)
No. 9 from Stanley Fletcher: New Tunes for Strings, Cello Book 1
Boosey & Hawkes (BHI 1200039)

More details
No. 9 from Stanley Fletcher: New Tunes for Strings, Teacher's Book 1
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000100)

More details
8 Sheila Nelson Peter Piper (PF/VC)
('E' version)
P. 14 from Tetratunes for Cello, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200093)

More details
Tetratunes: teacher's book with accompaniments, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000230)

More details
9 Trad.
arr. Passchier, Hussey and Sebba
Big Ben (PF/VC)
(upper part)
No. 34 from Abracadabra Cello (Third Edition), arr. Passchier
Collins Music

More details
Abracadabra Strings, Book 1, Piano accompaniments, arr. Hussey and Sebba
Collins Music

More details
10 Trad.
arr. Suzuki and Mooney
Go Tell Aunt Rhody (PF/VC)
No. 5 from Suzuki Cello School, Vol. 1
Alfred (0479S)

More details
No. 5 from Suzuki Cello School, Vol. 1, Piano accompaniment
Alfred (0480S)

More details
No. 5 from Suzuki Ensembles for Cello, Vol. 1, arr. Mooney
Alfred (0296S)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Waterfall
No. 10 from Waggon Wheels
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
2 Trad. Spiritual
arr. Iles
All night, all day
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
3 Thomas Gregory Silent Friends
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
4 Alan Bullard Far Away
from Party Time!
(slurs optional)
Alan Bullard: Party Time! for Cello
ABRSM

More details
5 Mary Cohen Mrs Andantino Goes for a Walk (DUET)
from Superduets, Book 2
(upper part)
Mary Cohen: Superduets for Cello, Book 2
Faber (0571518923)

More details
6 Thomas Gregory Footprints in the Snow
No. 20 from Vamoosh Cello, Book 1, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM21)

More details
No. 20 from Vamoosh String Book 1, Piano accompaniment, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM51)

More details
7 Edward Huws Jones Gone for Good
No. 12 from Ten O'Clock Rock
No. 12 from Edward Huws Jones: Ten O'Clock Rock for Cello
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200366)

More details
No. 12 from Edward Huws Jones: Ten O'Clock Rock, Piano accompaniment
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000653)

More details
8 Sheila Nelson Over the Moon
No. 8 from Piece by Piece 1 for Cello, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200312)

More details
9 Sheila Nelson Swingalong (PF/VC)
('E' version)
P. 16 from Tetratunes for Cello, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200093)

More details
Tetratunes: teacher's book with accompaniments, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000230)

More details
10 Trad. French
arr. Suzuki and Mooney
French Folk Song (PF/VC)
No. 5 from Suzuki Cello School, Vol. 1
Alfred (0479S)

More details
No. 5 from Suzuki Cello School, Vol. 1, Piano accompaniment
Alfred (0480S)

More details
No. 5 from Suzuki Ensembles for Cello, Vol. 1, arr. Mooney
Alfred (0296S)

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell On the Prowl
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
2 Alan Bullard Rock the Boat
from Party Time!
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
3 Trad. Jamaican
arr. Bullard
Hill and gully rider
Cello Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

More details
4 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Off to School
No. 54 from Cello Time Starters, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details
Starters Teacher's Handbook, Accompaniments, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details
5 Thomas Gregory Walk on Mars!
(slides optional; with DC, as in accomp.)
No. 22 from Vamoosh Cello, Book 1, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM21)

More details
No. 22 from Vamoosh String Book 1, Piano accompaniment, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM51)

More details
6 Edward Huws Jones Ten O'Clock Rock
No. 9 from Ten O'Clock Rock
No. 9 from Edward Huws Jones: Ten O'Clock Rock for Cello
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200366)

More details
Edward Huws Jones: Ten O'Clock Rock, Piano accompaniment
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000653)

More details
7 Caroline Lumsden and Pam Wedgwood Jungle Footprints
from Jackaroo
(scream optional)
Pam Wedgwood and Caroline Lumsden: Jackaroo for Cello
Faber (0571521894)

More details
8 Sheila Nelson Alastair Arbuthnot Has No Hat
No. 2 from Piece by Piece 1 for Cello, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1200312)

More details
9 Trad. German
arr. Sassmannshaus
Pit a Pat Rain (PF/VC)
Cello Recital Album, Vol. 1
Bärenreiter (BA 8994)

More details
10 Peter Wilson Bow Rock
No. 4 from Stringpops 1
No. 4 from Madeleine Ranger and Peter Wilson: Stringpops 1 for Cello
Faber (0571504868)

More details
No. 4 from Madeleine Ranger and Peter Wilson: Stringpops 1, Piano score
Faber (0571509843)

More details

Cello requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C). In the exam, candidates should tell the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form for this.

Every effort has been made to feature a broad range of repertoire to suit and appeal to candidates of different ages, backgrounds and interests. Certain pieces may not be suitable for every candidate for technical reasons or because of wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.). Pieces should be carefully considered for their appropriateness to each individual, which may need consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research pieces online (see www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety).

Accompaniment: A live piano or string (where the option is listed) accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works (these are marked SOLO in the lists above).

At Grades Initial–3, candidates may perform some or all of their pieces with a string accompaniment. Pieces that are published as duets (or with string accompaniment only) are marked DUET in the lists above. Pieces that are published with piano and string accompaniment options are marked PF/VC in the lists above, and may be performed with either accompaniment in the exam.

Candidates must provide their own accompanist(s), who can only be in the exam room while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may accompany (examiners will not). If necessary, an accompanist may simplify any part of the accompaniment, as long as the result is musical. Recorded accompaniments are not allowed.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription (appearing as ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ in the syllabus list), the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. For all other pieces, editions are listed for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). For full details on sourcing exam music, see Obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments etc. do not need to be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are encouraged to interpret the score in a musical and stylistic way. Examiners’ marking will be determined by how control of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Vibrato: The use and control of vibrato, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome. Pieces that are heavily reliant on vibrato for their full musical effect tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: Unless the syllabus specifies differently, all da capo and dal segno indications should be followed but other repeats (including first-time bars) should not be played unless they are very short (i.e. a few bars).

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies differently. Accompanists should cut lengthy orchestral tutti sections.

Performing from memory: Candidates may perform any of their pieces from memory; if doing so, they must make sure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to. No extra marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. Candidates (and accompanists) may use an extra copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below) to help with page-turns. Candidates and accompanists at Grades 6–8 may bring a page-turner to the exam if there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn (prior permission is not required; the turner may be the candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission should be brought to the exam.

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Violin Practice Partner

Violin Practice Partner is a simple way to make practising pieces for your ABRSM exam more musical, enjoyable and fun.

Scales Trainer

Scales Trainer helps increase fluency with ABRSM scales and arpeggios requirements.

 

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to our cookie policy and consent to our use of cookies. Find out more.

closer Close this message