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Latest exam updates

術科考試最新消息 香港




我們全新以演奏為重點的遠程評估等級考試 將為考生在這非常時期,提供了另一種可以向前邁進的途徑。這個以演奏為重點的考試,無論在考試要求、資格認可和價值各方面,均等同於我們的術科等級考試。兩個考試的曲目和考綱相同,評估標準和質量保證準則一致,並且均由曾接受嚴格訓練的考官進行評估。這全新的考試預計將在今年年底以前,開放予香港考生報名,他們從即時起可開始為考試進行錄影。請瀏覽我們網頁查閱更多有關考試的資訊

Why examine an unaccompanied traditional song?

The unaccompanied traditional song is an important part of all our graded Singing exams. "ABRSM’s Singing exams used to include unaccompanied technical exercises," explains ABRSM’s Chief Examiner, John Holmes, "but there was a fairly common perception that these were a somewhat artificial and even unmusical requirement. So in 1986, ABRSM replaced them with the unaccompanied traditional song, which allows examiners to assess the elements of unaccompanied singing through a more natural genre.

"Most candidates and teachers clearly enjoy this part of the exam. Singing is a completely different discipline to all the other practical subjects. Singers have to continue to pitch and produce the notes from within, and also have to accommodate the challenging extra elements of language and meaning, as well as performing from memory. There’s nowhere to hide here for singers. No ‘my reed split’. No ‘my string broke’. And in this part of the exam, no piano for support."

How do you choose and prepare a song?

Heidi Pegler is an ABRSM examiner, singer, and teacher. She has also written and edited a number of books on singing. Heidi is well aware of the challenges singers face and believes some teachers and students leave it too late to start work on the traditional song and don’t take it seriously enough.

"I’ve heard students say 'it’s only the folk song', and this attitude needs to be changed quickly if that’s your student," she says. "The unaccompanied traditional song can tell the examiner quite a lot about a candidate. Do they, for example, have the confidence and maturity to perform a song completely by themselves, without accompaniment?"

"The choice of folk song is vital", Heidi emphasises. "I'd go for one that has an interesting story. This makes it easier for the student to identify with what’s going on and to develop character and dynamic changes. Think about the age and gender of your student, and also think carefully about keys. Minor keys can be problematic for some students, particularly if it’s a mode, so make sure they have a real inner sense of the key by singing the scale or mode before they learn the song."

"I also think very carefully about the vocal range. Some folk songs can span quite a distance – over a 12th – and this can be difficult to keep in tune. Be wary, also, of falling phrases that can go flat under pressure."

Other factors to be aware of include loss of overall pitch or interval accuracy, memory lapses and a lack of musical communication, which can all undermine musical success – as can the unsuitability of some song choices.

What standard is expected in the exam?

With around 32,000 Singing exams taking place every year, examiners hear a very wide range of traditional song choices. Eileen Field, an ABRSM examiner, has heard hymns, national anthems, early Italian arias and musical theatre numbers all performed under the guise of the unaccompanied traditional song, none of which meet the criteria for the exam.

The Singing syllabus provides guidance on what a traditional song is, and you can also look at compilations listed there for ideas. The song can be from any folk tradition and in any language, though a translation must be provided for the examiner if their chosen language isn't English.

How do you find out the standard expected for each grade? 

The syllabus provides guidance on how long the song should last – apart from that, there's free choice. As the grade increases, a greater maturity is expected in the delivery of the song, e.g. in the use of rubato and more physical actions of storytelling. It's also possible to tackle more complex stories at the higher grades, such as death, war or unrequited love.

ABRSM  believes that this part of the exam is less about the musical and technical content of the song and more about the singer’s ability to convey it effectively. "For the unaccompanied traditional song, there's a shift in the focus of assessment towards different skills", explains John. "The free choice provides flexibility for teachers and allows candidates to perform something they're comfortable with, and which can show off their abilities."

Whatever the grade, Eileen believes the singer’s job is to communicate the song "with sincere involvement in the text". "Singers might choose to adopt appropriate dialects, include folk song-style ornamentation, change pronouns or turn the body slightly to indicate which character is singing", she says.

You can find some unaccompanied traditional songs in our Songbooks.
Requirements for the unaccompanied traditional song can be found in the ABRSM Singing syllabus.

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