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What are the benefits of playing pieces?

Mastering the art of performing a wide range of music is an essential part of music learning. In preparing for our exams, you can choose from a broad list of pieces chosen for your grade, each presenting you with an opportunity to develop new skills.

What happens in the exam?

For this section of the exam, candidates prepare and present three pieces or songs chosen from the relevant syllabus. Repertoire lists for each grade can be found in the syllabus for your instrument.

Video: Performance of a piece from our Piano Grade 5 syllabus

How do I find the pieces and songs?

You can download the relevant syllabus from our instrument pages, where you’ll find a list all of the pieces and songs. Some of the pieces will be in books you might already own. We also publish a number of Exam Pieces books, which you can purchase from our online shop or from your local retailer.

Marking criteria

To find out how our examiners assess the pieces in your exam, see our marking criteria.

All instruments (Singing not included) Grades 1–8:

Mark

Pitch

Time

Tone

Shape

Performance

Distinction
27-30

  • Highly accurate notes and intonation
  • Fluent, with flexibility where appropriate
  • Rhythmic character well conveyed
  • Well projected
  • Sensitive use of tonal qualities
  • Expressive, idiomatic musical shaping and detail
  • Assured
  • Fully committed
  • Vivid communication of character and style

Merit
24-26

  • Largely accurate notes and intonation
  • Sustained, effective tempo
  • Good sense of rhythm
  • Mainly controlled and consistent
  • Good tonal awareness
  • Clear musical shaping, well-realised detail
  • Positive
  • Carrying musical conviction
  • Character and style communicated

Pass
20-23

  • Generally correct notes
  • Sufficiently reliable intonation to maintain tonality
  • Suitable tempo
  • Generally stable pulse
  • Overall rhythmic accuracy
  • Generally reliable
  • Adequate tonal awareness
  • Some realisation of musical shape and/or detail
  • Generally secure, prompt recovery from slips
  • Some musical involvement

Below Pass
17-19

  • Frequent note errors
  • Insufficiently reliable intonation to maintain tonality
  • Unsuitable and/or uncontrolled tempo
  • Irregular pulse
  • Inaccurate rhythm
  • Uneven and/or unreliable
  • Inadequate tonal awareness
  • Musical shape and detail insufficiently conveyed
  • Insecure, inadequate recovery from slips
  • Insufficient musical involvement

13-16

  • Largely inaccurate notes and/or intonation
  • Erratic tempo and/or pulse
  • Serious lack of tonal control
  • Musical shape and detail largely unrealised
  • Lacking continuity
  • No musical involvement

10-12

  • Highly inaccurate notes and/or intonation
  • Incoherent tempo and/or pulse
  • No tonal control
  • No shape or detail
  • Unable to continue for more than a short section

0

  • No work offered
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