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By Rhys Lett

ANZCA Guitar Exams

Each year Eastern Suburbs School of Music students are invited to take part in guitar exams held by the ANZCA music board. We have chosen this company for its excellent repertoire for modern guitar students. The examiners are always amazingly supportive of nervous students. Eastern Suburbs School of Music students have the amazing record of never receiving a mark under 85% in the 15 years we have participated in exams. To learn more about ANZCA guitar exams follow this link.

In this article we will explain what is required when you take a guitar exam. I will also explain the Eastern Suburbs School of Music approach to learning the skills required for success in guitar exams.

If you are interested about taking guitar exams with the help of the Eastern Suburbs School of Music contact Rhys on 0421 705 150 or via the contact form on the top right side of this page.

guitar exams

Students very happy with their results from 2014. We are proud of all our students brave enough to try a guitar exam.

Technical Work – ANZCA Guitar Exams

For this students need to learn and memorize exercises. Skills such as learning scales, chord shapes, strumming patterns and arpeggios are requested in certain keys. Learning the technical aspects will help a student perform the songs in each required level. This section is valued at 20 marks out of 100.

It is of great importance to have students learn this and the songs as soon as possible. This is the area of the exam we can control. The balance of the marks is also in playing the technical work and songs. Do well in these two areas and you are on the way to a high grading.

Songs – ANZCA Guitar Exams

Students are to chose songs from lists for each grade. Lists are organised to highlight certain styles of guitar playing. As an example, student taking the beginner level guitar exam (preliminary) are asked to perform three songs. As levels increase students are asked to perform more songs. Each song is worth a certain amount of marks. In the preliminary level each song is worth 18 marks. The three songs add up to the value of 54 marks in the preliminary exam. Perform the songs to a high level and exam success follows.

The songs for each grade are well selected. They present the student with a variety of challenges. Great importance is placed on mastering the songs. This area of the exam allows the student to gain the most marks.

Sight Reading – ANZCA Guitar Exams

This is  the most challenging aspect of the exam. Students are asked to perform a piece of music notation they have not previously seen. This skill tests their music reading ability. Their are limitations on the range of notes and strings included in each level of sight reading.  This aspect of the exam is worth 10 marks.

In this area we encourage students to connect with the rhythm of the piece first. Often students try and begin sight reading exercises worried about reading the note names. By reading the rhythm and starting to create the sound of the piece in their head we find they will have greater confidence attempting the exercise.

General Knowledge – ANZCA Guitar Exams

Students will be asked questions about the notation and markings seen in the songs. Things such as note and rest values, signs and symbols, origins and composers of songs and knowledge of your guitar are asked in this area. This part of the exam is worth 8 marks.

Students gain confidence in understanding music by successfully identifying what the pictures are telling them to play. It is helpful to have all required symbols on flash cards.

Aural – ANZCA Guitar Exams

Students are asked to give answers based on musical examples played by the examiner. This may be identifying rhythms by clapping an answer, distance between notes (known as intervals) or specific examples of melody. This area of the exam is worth 8 marks.

Marks Breakdown – ANZCA Guitar Exams

As an example here is how students are graded in the early levels of the ANZCA guitar exams:

  • Technical work – 20 marks.
  • Songs – 54 marks.
  • Sight Reading – 10 marks.
  • General Knowledge – 8 marks.
  • Aural – 8 marks.

This adds up to being scored out of 100. As mentioned previously, ANZCA examiners are greatly supportive and understanding of the stressful nature of exams. They put the students at ease so they can deliver to the best of their ability on the day.

We are very proud of the student each year that take up the offer to do guitar exams. This year we have 27 students in November taking part. Best of luck to all of you.