Introduction to Examination Boards

It can be quite daunting when first looking at learning an instrument, especially looking to learn to an examination standard, and this isn’t helped by the vast amount of examining boards available at the moment. In this introduction post, I will try an run through some of the differences and benefits of the courses currently offered through our amazing music school, followed by more detailed and specific posts about the individual routes to take.

The bodies I will briefly cover are,

– ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Music Schools)

– Trinity Guild hall (Both Trinity Classical and Trinity Rock and Pop)

– LCM (London College of Music)

– Rockschool

ABRSM still appears to be the most popular, at least in regards to vocal and piano lessons and exams. With roots stretching right back to 1822, it is the longest established body and yet has still managed to keep relatively up to date with what it offers, for example, they are soon to be adding a ‘Singing for musical theatre’ course to their already extensive range of courses, which you can read more about in my coming ABRSM post.

Trinity Guild Hall is also very popular among teachers due to its well-established background in communication and performance. They believe in making their assessments relevant and enjoyable and strive to help people learn skills that they can transpose into everyday life. The qualifications they provide for passing their exams are highly held and recognised by many professionals in different industries.

London College of Music is a part of the University of West London and are quickly becoming a favourite among a lot of students and teachers alike. With a university background, their instrument syllabuses and examinations are of an absolutely top quality, with grades 6 – 8 counting towards UCAS points when looking to apply for university. They are also able to range of different diplomas through the university ranging from ‘leisure play’ qualifications right the way to ‘teaching qualifications’.

Finally, Rockschool course and exams are the perfect options if you are just playing for fun or with a band, and enjoy learning a new song or two every month. The syllabuses are built around learning actual modern and classic rock songs and helping improve ‘band like’ performance skills without the pressure of sight reading and some of the other more complex and technical requests made from some of the other bodies.

As with anything in music, people have their own preference based on their own personal experience. For example, I have been able to talk to some of our music school tutors and they all have their unique opinions on who is the best and why. I spoke to one Piano and Vocal tutor who was a firm believer that ‘ABRSM is one of the only music syllabus’s to bother with due to it being considered the most recognised and established. If you can play to ABRSM’s standards, you can play to any other boards standards.’ However, that opinion was quickly contested by another Piano/Keyboard tutor who stated he ‘much preferred teaching the LCM syllabus as it was more up to date than ABRSM, making much accessible for younger students learning instruments.’ And finally contested again by a drum tutor who believed ‘Trinity to be the most accessible with them now offering a ‘rock and pop’ syllabus as an easier and Rockschool-esque alternative to there classic graded exams.’

For more information on music schools, please browse through our music school page and see what we offer at all 9 of our stores.

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