Required Playing Standards

Required Playing Standards

It is very important that you assess your current playing standard as accurately as possible. Assessing playing standards is not (and cannot be) an exact science, and the grade system established by the Associated Board and other examiners is at best an approximate guide.

Please use the guidelines below to help you make this assessment:

Elementary standard players: AB* grades 3-5
You need to be reasonably fluent and confident with fairly straightforward music in keys of up to three sharps or flats, and play reasonably well in tune with some dynamic contrast. In these sessions parts may be doubled in some pieces. Clarinets only require B flat instruments; horn parts will be in F.

Intermediate standard players: AB* grades 6-8
Good fluency is needed in a range of music which will involve some technical challenges and may be in keys of up to five sharps or flats. Good tuning, tone production, dynamic range and articulation will be required. The music will normally be played one-to-a-part, unless there is a special reason to do otherwise. Clarinets normally only require B flat instruments; horn players may be required to do basic transpositions.

Advanced standard players: Above AB* grade 8 / diploma standard
Fluency in all keys is essential, as many of the pieces in these courses are technically and musically demanding. As well as excellent diploma-standard tuning, tone production, extreme dynamics, and a wide range of articulation speeds and characters, players will also need to be able to cope with occasional rhythmic and counting complexities. These sessions will be one-to-a-part, unless otherwise specified for a particular musical reason. Clarinettists require B flat and A instruments; alternative instruments (e.g. piccolo, bass clarinet, etc.) may be required (please check for details), and horn players need to be proficient in all the normal transpositions.

What NOT to do:

Under-assess yourself  ‘just to play safe’ – if you’re happy to play easier parts, that’s fine, but if you want to play up to your level and meet a suitable level of challenge, please follow the guidelines above.

Over-assess yourself  ‘just to get to play with the best players’ or ‘to get to play the best music’. This can and does cause problems and can be embarrassing for you and others in the group. Make your challenge a realistic one – be confident that you are applying for a course of the right standard according to the specific requirements listed above. If you are uncertain, please check with Laurence Perkins before applying.

*approximate playing standards based on Associated Board (ABRSM) examination grades.