RGT Chief Examiner, Merv Young, outlines the differences between Performance Awards and Grad RGT Exams.
Over the past couple of years we have introduced a range of Performance Awards to run alongside our Grade exam syllabuses. Performance Awards are now available for:
- Acoustic Guitar
- Electric Guitar
- Rock Guitar
- Bass Guitar
Given that Performance Awards are a relatively new qualification, some students and teachers seem a little unclear about the difference between them and the more traditional grade exams – hence the purpose of this article.
What Are Performance Awards
Performance Awards are alternatives to Grade Exams that focus only on the performance elements of each syllabus.
There are no questions relating to fingerboard knowledge, musical knowledge or aural awareness in any of the Performance Awards. This means that candidates can concentrate solely on the pieces or prepared performance aspects only.
Performance Awards really come into their own when you consider the format options that are available with them, as there are three types of Performance Awards:
- Live Performance Award. A candidate attends an exam venue to perform.
- Filmed Performance Award. A candidate submits a video recording of their performance rather than attending an exam venue.
- Recorded Performance Award. A candidate submits an audio recording of their performance rather than attending an exam venue.
Why Take a Performance Award?
The flexible format of Performance Awards can make them an ideal choice for certain students. For example, if you have students who are overly nervous about the prospect of going into an exam room, then you can offer them the recorded or filmed option as an alternative way of getting their playing professionally assessed and gaining an accredited qualification.
You can film or record them in surroundings where they feel comfortable and then submit the performances on disc for assessment. You can even upload the video or audio content direct to the RGT website to make the process even easier.
Of course, this also saves them the trouble of taking time off for a traditional exam and travelling to an exam centre.
It is also worth bearing in mind that filmed and recorded entries for the Performance Awards can be submitted at any time throughout the year and your entry will be assessed within 8 weeks of receipt.
You or your students may feel that the broader requirements that are included in the Grade Exams are more appropriate to their musical development. The point is that the Performance Awards present another option that may be more suitable for some students in certain situations.
Even if your students still want to enter a standard Grade Exam, it can prove useful for some students to have the performance aspects of their playing independently assessed prior to taking the “full” Grade Exam later on.
As well as being a confidence boost before the Grade Exam, it also means that you can then focus in the subsequent lessons on the other aspects that are required for a Grade Exam, e.g. fingerboard knowledge, musical knowledge and aural awareness.
Entering Grade Exams and Performance Awards
Entries for either option can be made online or by post and can be submitted either by the candidate or by their teacher.
A small note of caution, however, if you are directing students (or their parents) to enter online themselves for the live Performance Award or the Grade Exam: we have had several instances recently where a candidate (or their parent) has applied for a Grade Exam when in fact their teacher had prepared them for a Live Performance Award – and vice versa.
Please make sure that your students (and, where applicable, particularly their parents) are 100% aware of whether they should be applying to enter a ‘Grade Exam’ or a ‘Performance Award’ so as to avoid any confusion and disappointment on the day of the exam itself, as the examiner will only have the paperwork for the exam type for which the candidate has entered.