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Music Medals aim to encourage pupils to acquire the knowledge, skills and understanding to perform music – both within an ensemble and individually – with an appropriate control of sounds and with a sense of interpretation that enables the intentions of the composer to be communicated.

What aspects of a performance are assessed?

Candidates are assessed on their ability to perform pieces with:

  • ensemble skill: this encompasses interaction, including eye contact, leading, gesture and body language; and responsiveness to the group, including balance/blend, give-and-take and negotiation.
  • control of sounds: this encompasses the way sound is produced and includes situations where a poor instrument may be skilfully managed. It includes accurate pitch and secure intonation, the ability to produce consistent tone where required and to control and contrast dynamics.
  • interpretation: this encompasses suitable tempo, including consistency of the chosen speed(s); rhythmic fluency; the shaping of musical phrases and the ability to articulate them as appropriate to the musical context.
  • communication: this encompasses continuity and sense of performance; the ability to recover from slips; sensitivity to musical detail; and the application of technical skills in ways that convey the mood and character of the music.

Attainment categories and assessment criteria

Music Medals results are classified as Excellent, Pass and Working Towards.

In order to pass the Medal, candidates have to achieve a Pass in a minimum of two of the three sections. One Pass must be in the Ensemble section. From Bronze level, to pass ‘with excellence’, all three sections must be awarded an Excellent result.

Attainment category: Excellent

Candidates demonstrate confident ensemble skills, with appropriate interaction and responsiveness to the group. They perform with a secure control of sounds, accuracy and intonation. They demonstrate consistent tonal control and play with an appropriate range of dynamics. They are able to sustain a suitable tempo and to play fluently within it, and are sensitive to musical details. Their playing has a good sense of rhythm, with well-shaped phrases and clear articulation. This results in performances that convey the mood and character of the music. Their musicianship skills are excellent at the level, being more than sufficient to meet the demands of the chosen Option test.

Attainment category: Pass

Although in their ensemble performance there may be some small problems – for example with tempi, phrasing or balance – candidates play with a sense of ensemble and are responsive to the group. They control their sound with general security, and their playing is mostly accurate in notes and intonation. They pay some attention to the dynamics and there is evidence of tonal awareness. They maintain a suitable tempo in performance and play with a sense of rhythm. Their phrases are mostly well shaped and their articulation is generally secure. They play with a reasonable sense of continuity and recover from slips promptly. The broad intention of the music they play is conveyed. They demonstrate musicianship skills adequate to the demands of the chosen Option test.

Attainment category: Working Towards

In ensemble performance candidates make some contribution but demonstrate only a limited or somewhat erratic response to the group. They have some control of sounds, but insufficient security of note accuracy, intonation, dynamics or tonal control. Their level of interpretative skill is undermined by rhythmic or tempo difficulties, and their phrases lack shape and appropriate articulation. They recover poorly from slips and so their performance lacks continuity. This in turn results in the mood or character of the music being inadequately communicated. They have a degree of musicianship skill, but it is inadequate to the demands of the chosen Option test.

Ensemble assessment criteria

Excellent

 

  • Confident interaction with, and sensitivity to, the group
  • Accurate pitch and secure intonation
  • Good control of dynamics and tone
  • Tempo suitable and sustained
  • Good sense of rhythm and phrasing, with clear articulation
  • Fluent, with the character/mood of the piece well expressed

 

Pass

 

  • Some interaction with, and responsiveness to, the group
  • Mainly accurate pitch and generally secure intonation
  • Dynamics given attention, with awareness of tonal control
  • Tempo generally sustained
  • Sense of rhythm and phrasing, with generally clear articulation
  • Prompt recovery from slips, with the intention of the piece expressed

 

Working Towards

 

  • Little interaction with, and limited awareness of, the group
  • Some difficulties with pitch and uncertain intonation
  • Dynamics requiring closer attention, with limited control of tone
  • Tempo unsuitable and/or unsustained
  • Uneven and/or inaccurate rhythm and lack of phrasing, with unclear articulation
  • Slow recovery from slips, with the character/mood of the piece not yet expressed

 

Solo assessment criteria

Excellent

 

  • Accurate pitch and secure intonation
  • Good control of dynamics and tone
  • Tempo suitable and sustained
  • Good sense of rhythm and phrasing, with clear articulation
  • Fluent, with the character/mood of the piece well expressed

 

Pass

 

  • Mainly accurate pitch and generally secure intonation
  • Dynamics given attention, with awareness of tonal control
  • Tempo generally sustained
  • Sense of rhythm and phrasing, with generally clear articulation
  • Prompt recovery from slips, with the intention of the piece expressed

 

Working Towards

 

  • Some difficulties with pitch and uncertain intonation
  • Dynamics requiring closer attention, with limited control of tone
  • Tempo unsuitable and/or unsustained
  • Uneven and/or inaccurate rhythm and lack of phrasing, with unclear articulation
  • Slow recovery from slips, with the character/mood of the piece not yet expressed

 

Option assessment criteria

Call and response

Make a tune

Question and answer

Sight-reading

Excellent

 

  • Fluent responses
  • Well-shaped
  • Imaginative connection with calls

 

 

  • Well-shaped
  • Tempo well sustained
  • Rhythmically accurate

 

 

  • Accurate overall
  • Well-shaped answer
  • Fluent

 

 

  • Fluent
  • Good note-reading
  • Character well expressed

 

Pass

 

  • Responses keeping a steady pulse
  • Some shape
  • Responsive to calls

 

 

  • Some shape
  • Tempo generally sustained
  • Rhythm mainly accurate

 

 

  • Mainly accurate
  • Controlled answer
  • Steady pulse

 

 

  • Rhythm mainly accurate, with a mainly steady pulse
  • Notes mostly correct
  • Sense of the music expressed

 

Working Towards

 

  • Responses lacking continuity
  • Little shape
  • Little connection with calls

 

 

  • Little shape
  • Tempo not sustained
  • Rhythmic errors

 

 

  • Unreliable note-reading
  • Answer has little control
  • Lack of continuity

 

 

  • Rhythmic errors
  • Unreliable note-reading
  • Limited sense of the music expressed
 

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