Instruments and singing: Grades 1-8


John Holmes, ABRSM Chief ExaminerThis guide is for anyone involved with ABRSM’s graded music exams – especially teachers, candidates and parents. It introduces the various elements of our exams for instruments and singing, guides you through the exam experience and explains what makes ABRSM exams special.

As ABRSM’s Chief Examiner, I lead the team of examiners who deliver our exams around the world. Our message to candidates is ‘I’ll do my best to help you do your best’, and I can say with confidence that this message lies at the heart of our work.

Every examiner understands how it feels to be nervous before a musical performance. We have all experienced this ourselves and we remember being an exam candidate too. We know that a friendly face and a sympathetic approach make all the difference. From our manner in the exam room, our method as we work through the exam to our comments on the mark form, our aim is to be helpful and supportive. The ABRSM examiner is always on the candidate’s side.

ABRSM exams motivate achievement and support progression. They lay good foundations for music making while encouraging students to reach their full potential. We advise teachers and candidates to use our exams as a means to this end, rather than as an end in themselves. They can form only part of a musical curriculum, for which they provide goals and recognition along the way.

Finally, we should remember the reason so many of us learn to play an instrument or to sing. It’s about a love of music and the enjoyment and fulfilment that brings, all of which ABRSM supports wholeheartedly.

John Holmes
Chief Examiner

Next : About our exams

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to our cookie policy and consent to our use of cookies. Find out more.