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  • Bonnie

The New Performance Grades for ABRSM

Updated: Dec 28, 2023



The last 'in person' ABRSM piano examination held in Singapore before the pandemic was in February/March 2020. Gradually, many different countries were locked down, and most things shifted online.


To facilitate music students who are still interested in taking music examinations, ABRSM has also gone online by introducing remotely-assessed Performance Grades. The Performance Grades are in no way replacing the usual Practical Grades we are familiar with all this time. They offer an additional route to taking examinations. Also, you can always switch between the two exams as you progress or when the Practical examination becomes available again.




In 2021, I will be preparing my students for these Performance Grades. Like the name, Performance Grade focuses mainly on performance only. No scales, aural, or sight-reading. Just four pieces.

It is new to try out after many decades of in-person examinations. I am excited about how my students will fair, but we will not know unless we try.

There are loads of further information on how to record and submit your programme for the examination on the ABRSM website and YouTube channel if you want to find out more.

The examiners will assess the pieces according to pitch, time, tone, shape, and performance. So, it helps to hone in on piano techniques, posture, and overall musicality.

The following is a quick guide on the requirement for a recording for submission of the Performance Grade


  • You will need a decent recording device - usually, a smartphone or tablet will do. Set the camera resolution to 720

  • The file size of the recording should not be more than 2GB to enable successful upload. Acceptable file formats are MP4, WMV, MOV, MPG

  • Performance should be recorded as one continuous audio-visual file with NO editing

  • For keyboard instruments, the whole keyboard should be visible and, where applicable, the pedals. It helps to have good lighting and camera position

  • Announcements such as name, subject (instrument), grade, title, composer, and information on the four pieces made by candidates at the start of the recording should be clear. As of 8th March 2023, online programme forms are introduced. The person submitting the video will enter the details online.

  • You need to complete the online programme form in the order in which the pieces will be performed.

  • For own choice piece (unless chosen from the repertoire lists) - the candidate needs to show the copy that is being used to the camera for about 5 seconds with the title, opening clef, key, time signature, tempo marks, and the first few lines of the music visible





  • As the examiner needs to assess every aspect of the performance, including tone quality and dynamic range, I would recommend doing several trials to fine-tune the quality of the recording. I will do a couple of recordings leading to exams during lesson time, so my students are used to the recording environment and requirements.

  • Before submission, recheck your video recording to ensure both sound and video are satisfactory. Also, the file name should not contain any spaces, or the upload will not be successful. Of course, do submit your recording before the given due date, which is stated once you register.


As a comparison, I uploaded two recordings of the same student on the same piano but using different smartphones. Though she was playing different pieces, you could hear the difference in sound quality, not to mention newer smartphones have better picture quality too.








Using the iPhone 8 plus

(Portrait mode)







Using the iPhone 12 Pro

(Landscape mode)




Hopefully, students will enjoy preparing for this newly introduced Performance grade. As a teacher, I think teaching the necessary scales, aural, sight-reading and music theory are still important to be a more well-rounded pianist. Having a good foundation makes for a better transition as the student progresses.

Happy teaching!!







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