New set songs and sight-singing

What’s changing in 2009
A guide to the new
Singing
Syllabus

New set songs and sight-singing
The Associated Board’s Singing Syllabus for 2009
onwards is published in July 2008 and takes effect
from 1 January 2009. This time, we’ve not only
refreshed the choice of set songs and increased the
number of songs in each list, but we’ve also updated
the sight-singing requirements for all exams taken
from 2009 onwards. The set songs come from an even
more extensive range of countries and there is a wider
choice of material taken from the stage and screen.
For the first time the syllabus is being issued as a
separate booklet.
This leaflet is essential reading for singing teachers
and candidates, as it guides you through the key
changes to all aspects of the syllabus, and gives details
of the new supporting publications.
Research and Consultation
The changes made to the new Singing Syllabus are the
result of collaboration with singing teachers at all
levels throughout the world. We reviewed the
feedback we’ve asked for in recent years and have
acted on requests for a broader range of music on the
syllabus and a more musical approach to sight-singing.
We piloted a trial set of new specimen sight-singing
tests in 2006 with a sample of our regular applicants.
Careful consideration was given to questions of
breathing, pitch ranges and intervals, the use of words
and the role of the accompaniment in relation to the
vocal line. Over 85% of teachers involved in the pilot
considered the new approaches an improvement, and
over 97% considered them to represent a logical
progression through the grades.
About Graded Exams
Associated Board Grade 1-8 exams are designed to
motivate pupils and students at all levels by providing
clear, attainable goals. Successful exam candidates are
rewarded for their progress and achievement with a
certificate. The ‘grades’ are recognised as international
benchmarks and are valued by teachers and
institutions all over the world.
The assessment programme is flexible. Candidates can
study in their own time and at their own pace, and can
begin at the level most appropriate for them – Grade 1
is suitable for beginners who have been learning for
about one year, whilst each subsequent grade is
positioned broadly as an annual target. It is not
necessary for a candidate to be attached to any specific
institution or follow a particular course or method of
study in order to do their graded exams.
Graded music exams are available in over 35
instruments, singing, jazz, music theory and practical
musicianship. For further information, please visit
www.abrsm.org/exams
Singing Syllabus from 2009
2
The fundamental structure of the exam remains the
same. Candidates at Grades 1-5 prepare three set songs
and an unaccompanied traditional song. Those taking
Grades 6-8 sing an additional fourth set song to build
a varied programme. All grades also include aural
tests and sight-singing.
• The previous syllabus contained over 600 songs, of
which approximately three quarters have been
retained. The addition of new repertoire brings the
extent up to nearly 1,000 items, providing an
extraordinarily wide choice for candidates
• In response to requests from teachers, we are now
adopting the Helmholtz pitch notation system for
defining the precise range of each song in the
syllabus
Grades 1-5
• Songs may now be sung in any language at Grades
1-5, provided that the candidate has an edition with
a published singing translation
This change increases the flexibility regarding
languages at Grades 1-5, reflecting the needs of our
international constituency of candidates.
Grades 6-8
• Songs from Lists A, C and D may be sung in their
original language or in a singing translation in any
other language where a published edition exists,
but List B songs must still be performed in their
original language only
• List C expands geographically from being a
20th-century English list to encompass music from
Spain, Wales, Norway, Iceland, Russia, China, New
Zealand, Australia and the Americas
• List D now encompasses 19th- to 21st-century songs
written for the stage and screen
Opera arias previously found in Grade 8 List B now
move to List D. The worlds of opera and operetta
open up with songs by Gilbert and Sullivan, Lehar,
Bellini and Humperdinck, amongst many others.
At all grades the range of songs from musicals and
films has grown, taking in examples by Duke
Ellington, Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin and Ivor
Novello, as well as the Gershwins, Rodgers and
Hammerstein and Cole Porter.
This part of the syllabus also features superb examples
of Edwardian music hall and parlour songs as well as
Flanders and Swann’s legendary tribute to The
Hippopotamus.
Supporting Publications
The ABRSM Songbook, a five-volume series, will be
available from late 2008. This series will offer singers
an unrivalled choice of repertoire up to Grade 5. Each
volume contains around 20 songs, each of which has a
background note to help with study and performance
preparation, as well as a recorded accompaniment
designed for practice purposes (but not for exam use).
Each Songbook also contains a selection of
unaccompanied folksongs from around the world that
have been chosen to reflect the expectations at each
grade and are suitable for use in the Unaccompanied
Traditional Song section of the exam. Many of the
folksongs – from some 25 different countries – may be
unfamiliar at first, but the selection is intended to
complement the extensive collections of well-known
traditional songs already available. The folksongs
included in the Songbooks are not ‘set’ songs; teachers
and candidates are still free to select their own choice,
but we hope that the songs in each volume will give an
indication of the technical expectations at each level.
There are also recordings of every song text (including
all the unaccompanied traditional songs) in the original
language, providing a useful pronunciation guide.
Order your copies from your local retailer or visit
www.abrsmpublishing.com
Changes to the Syllabus Repertoire
3
Changes to the Sight-Singing Tests
• There are no longer piano introductions to the
sight-singing tests; as a result, candidates are able
to set their own pulse
To give the candidate greater control over the musical
effectiveness of the sight-singing test, they will no
longer have to perform at a tempo set by the examiner.
In Grades 1 and 2 the accompaniment is minimal
(occasional chords) with the top notes of the chords
doubling the vocal line. At Grades 3-5 the
accompaniment becomes slightly fuller, while in Grades
6-8 it is more akin to a ‘real’ song accompaniment.
4
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key-chord and
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Grade 1 sight-singing
Supporting Publications
The new edition of Specimen Sight-Singing Tests (in two
volumes, Grades 1-5 and 6-8), is available from July
2008. These reflect the changes in requirements from
January 2009. New requirements are described fully in
the new Singing Syllabus, available from July 2008.
Order your copies from your local retailer or visit
www.abrsmpublishing.com
5
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23 AB 3445
Grade 5 sight-singing
• There is a logical progression of musical demands
through the grades, and the use of Italian descriptors
relates to the requirements of the Associated Board’s
Theory of Music exams for the equivalent grade.
English descriptors are also still used
• There are now no texts in Grade 1-5 tests, allowing
candidates to focus on intervals, dynamics,
expression and breathing
6
Changes to the Sight-Singing Tests
• Clear, simple and singable texts are included in the
Grades 6-8 tests, though they may still be sung on
any vowel or to sol-fa, at the candidate’s choice
• There is now only one vocal stave per test (i.e. not
both the treble- and bass-clef versions printed
together above the piano part), and dynamic
markings continue to be printed above the vocal line
These factors increase the clarity of the notation to
assist candidates in their performance.
GRADE 8
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25 AB 3446
Grade 8 sight-singing
7
When do these
changes take effect?
The new Singing Syllabus is published in July 2008, and
includes full details of the new set songs as well as the
revised technical requirements (both valid from 1
January 2009).
Overlap information
Set songs
• Candidates may perform songs from the previous
syllabus as follows:
UK & Republic of Ireland – until the end of Period A
(spring examinations) 2009 only
All other countries – until 31 December 2009
• All the songs must be from the same syllabus –
candidates may not perform a mixture of songs from
old and new syllabuses
Sight-singing
• There is no overlap period for sight-singing; the new
requirements take effect for all candidates worldwide
from 1 January 2009
For more information on the syllabus and regulations
see www.abrsm.org
Our service to you
The Associated Board is committed to offering you a
high standard of service at the exam centre and during
the exam.
We monitor our exams closely to ensure consistency,
fairness and efficiency. If you have any concerns about
the conduct or conditions of an exam please contact us.
UK & Ireland
Our offices are open on weekdays from 8am to 5.30pm.
You can also get information from the website
(www.abrsm.org) or from your Honorary Local
Representative, who is listed at the website and in the
Examination Information & Regulations booklet.
Alternatively, contact our UK and Ireland Operations
team:
Northern Region, Scotland & Wales Exams
t: 020 7467 8261
e: londonandnorth@abrsm.ac.uk
London Region Exams
t: 020 7467 8261
e: londonandnorth@abrsm.ac.uk
Southern Region Exams
t: 020 7467 8211
e: midsandsouth@abrsm.ac.uk
Midlands Region Exams
t: 020 7467 8211
e: midsandsouth@abrsm.ac.uk
Ireland Exams
t: 020 7467 8296
e: ireland@abrsm.ac.uk
Special Visits
t: 020 7467 8221
e: specialvisits@abrsm.ac.uk
Diplomas
t: 020 7467 8829
e: diplomas@abrsm.ac.uk
Theory Exams
t: 020 7467 8270
e: theory@abrsm.ac.uk
Music Medals
t: 020 7467 8853
e: musicmedals@abrsm.ac.uk
Outside of the UK & Ireland
Representatives and contacts are listed at
www.abrsm.org/regions and in the International
edition of the Examination Information & Regulations
booklet.
Alternatively, contact the International Department:
t: +44 20 7467 8240
e: international@abrsm.ac.uk
Copies of this leaflet are also available to download
from www.abrsm.org/downloads
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
24 Portland Place
London W1B 1LU
United Kingdom
Registered Charity No. 292182
Contact us
www.abrsmpublishing.com publishing@abrsm.ac.uk
The ABRSM Songbook
Books 1-5
Five volumes offering singers an
unrivalled choice of repertoire for
exams and concerts
Over 100 songs from the AB singing
syllabus
Includes CDs of accompaniments
and pronunciation guide
For publication September 2008
Singing
with
CD
New titles for
Specimen Sight-Singing Tests
2 volumes: Grades 1-5, 6-8
New tests to reflect new exam requirements
For publication July 2008
Available from all good music retailers worldwide

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