Violin Qualifications

If you want some recognition for your current level of violin playing, then the easiest and most viable option is to take a graded exam. There are 2 main boards who give these exams: Trinity Guildhall and ABRSM (the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). They are well respected boards which hold violin exams all over the world for people to take.

The Trinity Guildhall Board offers 9 exams: initial grade, grade 1 and so on until the final one is at grade 8 . However, you must pass a grade 8 theory exam to be able to apply for the grade 8 violin exam itself. The ABRSM Board offers 8 exams – ranging from all the way from the first grade (it misses out initial grade) to finishing on grade 8. Similarly you must pass a grade 5 theory exam prior to doing the grade 6 exam.

In all of the Trinity Guildhall Board exams you are marked on 7 subjects: 3 pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight reading, viva voce (singing) and ear tests (listening). The subjects all have a maximum mark which adds up to 100. You can pass, but there are 2 other types of passes which you are able to achieve: merit and distinction which show you have passed with a higher level.

The ABRSM Board marks you on 6 subjects: 3 pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight reading and aural tests. The maximum mark for these exams is 150, but you must get 100 to pass, 120 to pass with merit or 130 to pass with distinction.

Both boards theory exams are all about reading, writing and analysing music by knowing about different clefs, transposing, melodic intervals, naming keys and naming chords.