AMEB is the shorthand for the Australian Music Examinations Board. AMEB exams provide a national benchmark and measure of excellence, and upon successfully completing the exams, students receive qualifications that are recognised across Australia and internationally. The exams test not only one’s ability to play prepared pieces, but also sight-reading, aural skills and general knowledge. Students often sit through this exam to track the progress of their piano studies, and gain an invaluable experience of playing in front of a professional audience.
So what does a typical AMEB piano exam involve? There are 5 main categories (usually presented in the following order in the exam):
- Technical work
Technical work are scales/arpeggios that students have to play fluently from memory.
- Prepared pieces
There are usually 3-4 mandatory pieces students have to play, plus two extra pieces they have to prepare. The 3-4 mandatory pieces are each chosen from a different time period – List A is from the Baroque period (music from 1600–1750); List B from Classical period (music from 1750–1820); List C from Romantic period (music from 1820–1900) and List D Contemporary or 20th century music.
- Aural test
Aural tests are exercises which involve the students being asked to clap/sing/hum passages or notes the examiner plays. It is the training of the ears to recognise rhythmic, melodic or harmonic patterns. Piano teachers should incorporate aural practice in the students’ weekly lessons in preparation for the exam.
- Sight-reading test
The student needs to sight-read a piece of music chosen by the examiner, and has only one opportunity to present this piece at the exam. Many students are usually nervous about this sight-reading test because this is one song they have not seen and cannot prepare for. However, teachers should build regular sight-reading exercises into the weekly lesson plans to help build up the students’ confidence in sight-reading.
- General knowledge
General knowledge test involves the examiner asking students a few questions on each of their chosen mandatory pieces. Typical questions include the meaning of the title, name and nationality of the composer, in which period of music is the song composed, expression & dynamic marks, the key of the piece (and any change of keys) and general structure & form of the music. There won’t be any questions on the extra pieces though – so just focus on learning the mandatory pieces is sufficient.
There are 7 grades for AMEB exam results – D means not passing the exam; C is pass only; B is a credit; A or A+ are distinctions grades and awarded to students who have prepared and presented well on all aspects of the exam.
D (not satisfactory – fail);
C (satisfactory – pass); C+;
B (credit); B+ (credit+);
A (pass with honours); A+ (pass with high distinction).
If you have any further questions about AMEB exams or would like to discuss my approach to my preparation for these exams, I will invite you to call me on 0411 383 376 for a chat or send me an email.