Initial Grade

What is Initial Grade?

Initial Grade for Piano is a pre-Grade 1 assessment available as a digital Performance Grade exam or a face-to-face Practical Grade exam. Initial Grade exams follow the same structure, content and marking criteria as our other graded music exams:

  • Performance Initial Grade - four pieces, with the assessment made from a video recording
  • Practical Initial Grade - three pieces, scales, sight-reading and aural tests

Initial Grade does not replace the Prep Test, but it sits alongside it as an alternative assessment. It’s designed to allow pianists at the earliest stages of their musical journeys to celebrate their achievement, and is an ideal qualification for those who want a mark as well as helpful feedback.

What supporting resources are available?

Piano Initial Grade is supported by a range of books. Our books of Piano Exam Pieces (available with or without CD) provide repertoire for Performance Initial Grade and Practical Initial Grade exams. For Practical Initial Grade we also have books of Piano Scales & Arpeggios and Specimen Piano Sight-reading Tests as well as a book of Specimen Aural TestsFind out more.

Piano Star Skills Builder is a new book by David Blackwell and Karen Marshall in the popular Piano Star series. It develops musicianship skills for young pianists working towards Practical Initial Grade level and beyond, providing a firm foundation in scales, aural, and sight-reading skills. The varied material includes fun pieces to play, songs to sing, written and listening activities, composition games, and much more.

Based on decades of proven teaching strategies, with all content tried out on – and approved! – by children, Piano Star Skills Builder will increase young pianists’ confidence and skill in all areas of musicianship. It will provide them with the skills they need to succeed in their Initial Practical Grade Piano exam and beyond.

Watch Konya Kanneh-Mason perform The Elephant Parade by Nikki Iles - a newly-commissioned piece on our Initial Grade Piano syllabus.

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