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External Exams

Instrumental Exams

  • At various key points along the way, it may be beneficial for a student to sit an external examination which provides independent assessment according to internationally recognised standards and methods of assessment.

  • Provided the student has been working consistently through the LPSM internal syllabi, these examinations, if taken, should present little difficulty and should complement the overall programme of study.

  • When approached in this way examinations can be both a happy experience and a source of positive motivation for the student.

  • Teachers will advise parents if it is in the child’s best interest to sit an external exam.

  • Examinations are taken at key stages throughout the student’s education, commencing at Grade 3 or above. We believe that the early years are best spent developing a love of the instrument, a sound technique, good musical awareness and exploring a wide range of repertoire.

  • Examinations will normally be taken every few years and the intervening years will be spent broadening the students musical horizons.

Please note that not all students are suited to taking external examinations in terms of their ability or temperament. These students will continue enjoying their musical studies while still having their progress monitored through the LPSM assessment programme. Teachers will be happy to advise in this regard.


LPSM students may not enter any festivals, auditions, exams etc without the consent of their instrumental teacher.

When should the first examination be taken?

The first external examination is not usually taken until the fourth year of study by which time the student's technique and musical understanding will have developed to quite a high level. Students will have explored a wide range of repertoire and will have gained confidence in performing before an audience through participation in Saturday concerts and other events at the school.​​

Final Thoughts on External Examinations

Examinations may form part of, but should never become the primary focus of the overall programme of musical education. It is important that we do not place too much emphasis on the final mark received. The focus should be on the benefits which have been attained by preparing for the examination.​

When used incorrectly, either too early or too frequently, examinations can:
  • Be a negative and stressful experience.

  • Become a treadmill with a high price and can limit overall progress and development.

  • Become a source of disillusionment and take the pleasure out of playing.

When used correctly, examinations can:
  • Provide goals and be a powerful source of motivation.

  • Form a point of consolidation and focus on the student’s work.

  • Provide independent feedback and identify areas which require improvement.

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