The Telegraph reports that a music exam board has been accused of “dumbing down” test papers by introducing multiple choice questions, as Julian Lloyd Webber warns British students could lose college places to foreign applicants.
Students must pass a Grade 5 theory exam to be allowed to take Grades 6, 7 and 8 – the standard required for higher study – in their chosen instrument.
The Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Grade 5 theory test currently includes composing rhythms and melodies, simplifying scores, and setting words to time patterns.
But from next year these traditional elements will been shelved and questions where a student previously had to write the definition of a musical term will have multiple choice answers to pick from.
However, it has proved unpopular with music teachers, who fear that it could devalue the grading system and force British conservatoires to recruit more foreign students due to a dwindling pool of domestic talent.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Julian Lloyd Webber, principal of Birmingham Conservatoire and brother to the composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, warned that a drop in standards at entry to intermediate level could derail the entire process.
“What concerns me is that any drop in the standards may hinder the progression of British students to be considered good enough for their own music colleges, their own conservatoires. Anything that lowers the standard of progression through these exams cannot be seen as a good thing. Because it’s exceptionally important.”
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