I was fortunate in my childhood to have my family, in particular my aunt, Aurora Flores, put me through years of piano lessons. Over those formative years I sat practical and theory examinations exclusively with the AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board). The AMEB is, without a doubt, the most well known and recognised examination board in Australia. It has only been in recent times since I have been teaching that I have discovered that the AMEB isn’t the only exam board out there. Just to name a few: Trinity College London (TCL), Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), St Cecilia Examinations (SCSM) and ANZCA Music Examinations.
More or less, these traditional exam boards offer similar progressive grade and diploma levels. Differences may include the number of pieces, choice of repertoire, amount of technical work, aural tests / sight reading, general knowledge / programme notes and a equivalent theory requirement. However, the common denominator of these exam boards is that you do this examination during one of the available exam sessions and you are assessed by your performance on that particular day.
Con Brio Examinations is a new exam board, assessed online by video submission by a board of reputable musicians. I had often thought that there should be a system of this nature – not to discount traditional methods, but to supplement them and provide a flexible alternative. The times we live in today make it very easy to share any content online, so why not share our music with the world and be formally recognised for your achievements at the same time? You can read the step-by-step requirements of CBE here. As a husband, father-of-two, teacher and musician (plus more!), you may understand why CBE is somewhat appealing to me. Some of you might know that I’m also undertaking 12 organ recitals in 12 months. After this (well really, it doesn’t end!), I’d like to give my piano repertoire a little bit of love. A CBE examination would give me something to work towards in my own time and pace.
I always encourage my students to record themselves in the final stages of learning their pieces so I will have no hesitation in recommending them to submit their polished performances to CBE, if they desire. Assessment by video is by no means an easy task – a recording isn’t as sympathetic as the human ear! Lastly, my recommendation would not be complete without proving I can ‘walk the walk’, so I sat a CBE Grade 4 Piano examination to ‘road-test’ this new system. Of course, it had nothing to do with getting only* a Credit in my AMEB Grade 4 Piano examination all those years ago…
My programme was as follows:
- BACH, J.S. Invention No. 1 in C major BWV 772 (actual exam video below for reference)
- CHOPIN, F. Prelude in B minor Op. 28 No 6
- ELFMAN, D. The Simpsons
I am now pleased to announce that I have improved on my Credit* I got all those years ago in Grade 4 with a High Distinction!
* There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Credit 🙂