Music Is Not All About Exams!

Posted by Devi Thavaratnam on

Music came first and then only the music examinations.

The first UK examination board to offer music examinations in music to external candidates in UK was Trinity College London in 1877. Music and music examinations were introduced when the British colonised Malaysia.

Trinity music examinations first took place in Malaysia as early as 1921.  Due to World War II, the examinations were interrupted. Trinity only returned to newly-independent Malaysia in the 1960s.

ABRSM started in KL in 1948.

There are four UK examination boards in Malaysia offering examinations, all accredited by Ofqual to award graded and diploma qualifications in music. The examination boards are ABRSM, London College of Music, Rockschool Ltd and Trinity College London.

Music lessons here were very often associated with music examinations.

There are “pushy music parents” who encourage music teachers to enrol their child for music examinations yearly so as to complete grade 8 quickly. And, quite often the concentration is on the practical and the music theory is neglected. Most opt to do only the grade 5 theory examination so as to be able to enter for the higher practical examinations.

Understanding and analysis of the music score is completely neglected.

Pupils are entered yearly for their practical examination. On completing grade 8, it could be asked:

“… She can certainly play the 2015-16 (Grade 8) syllabus pieces A –C

                Brilliantly….. Can she play anything else?”

Music examinations should only be used as an assessment to the study of music. There are side sections such as scales, aural etc. that would develop musicianship in students that would otherwise could be neglected.

ABRSM put it on their examinations site, an “assessment by a respected and independent musician who has been highly trained and is constantly monitored” opportunity for an objective opinion of a performance.

Exams don’t make musicians.


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