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Mander Organs

ABRSM new organ syllabus


Malcolm Kemp

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Has anyone been involved in any of the localised trials of the revised syllabus for organ (grade) exams which are being introduced later this year? Am I alone in thinking that the present syllabus is pretty awful? I remember there being a far better choice of pieces some years back when I had several students taking these exams.

 

Malcolm

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Has anyone been involved in any of the localised trials of the revised syllabus for organ (grade) exams which are being introduced later this year? Am I alone in thinking that the present syllabus is pretty awful? I remember there being a far better choice of pieces some years back when I had several students taking these exams.

 

Malcolm

 

 

I haven't seen the organ exam syllabus but my youngest (8 years) chorister has just taken her grade 3 piano in which one of the set pieces was the theme tune to the TV cartoon series Top Cat!

 

 

Peter

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I haven't seen the organ exam syllabus but my youngest (8 years) chorister has just taken her grade 3 piano in which one of the set pieces was the theme tune to the TV cartoon series Top Cat!

 

 

Peter

 

Yes, but not many of them manage to get the bit right in the middle with the syncopated octaves (on the 3rd line?) It wasn't that much fun when I did Grade 3!

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I'm reliable told by a ABRSM examiner, that for this exam you are guaranteed to get a distinction sinply by NOT playing Top Cat. It might be catchy, but it loses it's appeal after a few dozen performances!

 

I hope that is not the case (and indeed it should not be). Mine, who played it, got merit, missing distinction by one mark. :lol:

 

P

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I hope that is not the case (and indeed it should not be). Mine, who played it, got merit, missing distinction by one mark. :lol:

 

P

 

They must have missed it by two - marks which cannot be awarded are 99 (and possibly 98), 119, 129 and, I believe, 149 and 150.

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I'm reliable told by a ABRSM examiner, that for this exam you are guaranteed to get a distinction sinply by NOT playing Top Cat. It might be catchy, but it loses it's appeal after a few dozen performances!

This was said to me with a twinkle in the eye. I expect the sentiment was true, even if professionalism prevailed in practice.

 

Sq.

 

PS It seems I was earlier typing with my elbows (which makes a change from playing with my boxing gloves on!).

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They must have missed it by two - marks which cannot be awarded are 99 (and possibly 98), 119, 129 and, I believe, 149 and 150.

 

Is this a recent innovation? I swear that when I took grade 8 piano - admittedly nearly 40 years ago - I missed merit by one mark.

 

Peter

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  • 2 weeks later...
They must have missed it by two - marks which cannot be awarded are 99 (and possibly 98), 119, 129 and, I believe, 149 and 150.

 

I've come across a 150 (and seen the mark sheet) for Grade 8 piano. (not me, I hasten to add). This was a school friend of mine, who was already playing regularly in Ronnie Scott's by 17, had taken her Trinity G8 at 11, but had been recommended to take ABRSM to give her more options for music college.

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I've come across a 150 (and seen the mark sheet) for Grade 8 piano. (not me, I hasten to add). This was a school friend of mine, who was already playing regularly in Ronnie Scott's by 17, had taken her Trinity G8 at 11, but had been recommended to take ABRSM to give her more options for music college.

 

Not any more - as has been suggested, the rules have changed....

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I'm only guessing, but I'd be prepared to bet it's to discourage teachers from complaining that their pupils deserved a pass/merit/distinction. Teachers complain enough about examiners markings as it is. I should know; I'm married to one!

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I'm only guessing, but I'd be prepared to bet it's to discourage teachers from complaining that their pupils deserved a pass/merit/distinction. Teachers complain enough about examiners markings as it is. I should know; I'm married to one!

 

And the top mark excluded to protect the friends of the candidate from the size of his/her head, perhaps?

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I've seen a reluctance to award the top mark in a few situations, and I think it's just nonsense. All it means is that the exams are, de facto, marked out of 149, not the advertised 150. It doesn't even makes sense in its own terms: an award of 150 does not imply that this Grade 1 recorder player is perfect, but simply that he/she has met the stated criteria for top marks in each of the sections.

 

Given that it seems that the top mark is awardable in each one of the sections individually, what this means is that a candidate's score for one section may depend on how well they'd done in the rest of the exam. Thus a 20/20 Aural performance might only be awarded 18 if that same candidate had happened to ace pieces and the sightreading.

 

How is that logical or useful?

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I've seen a reluctance to award the top mark in a few situations, and I think it's just nonsense. All it means is that the exams are, de facto, marked out of 149, not the advertised 150. It doesn't even makes sense in its own terms: an award of 150 does not imply that this Grade 1 recorder player is perfect, but simply that he/she has met the stated criteria for top marks in each of the sections.

 

Given that it seems that the top mark is awardable in each one of the sections individually, what this means is that a candidate's score for one section may depend on how well they'd done in the rest of the exam. Thus a 20/20 Aural performance might only be awarded 18 if that same candidate had happened to ace pieces and the sightreading.

 

How is that logical or useful?

In my experience, much more likely to be given full marks for aural, sightreading and scales and arpeggios than pieces. In fact the County Music Advisor, an AB examiner, when I was a teenager (mid 1970s) was keen to hear of any examples of AB examiners awarding full marks for a piece as there was strong opinion (that he disagreed with) that full marks should never be awarded for a piece and he was keen to garner support for his view.

 

I know of one case at the opposite extreme where a young candidate for an entry level horn exam was failed with 95/150. The examiners pencil marks were legible under the ink ones and they added up to a good pass - however the scales were a fail so all the other marks were reduced to ensure a clear fail overall. I thought that was wrong.

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