Extemporisation / improvisation examinations

This examination offers candidates of different abilities and interests to produce and develop their own themes, as well as demonstrating their flair for extemporisation on a given theme, provided by the School.

Offered at all levels from Associate through to Fellowship, it is suitable for pianists and organists and covers both classical and jazz genres. For organists, it also offers the chance to explore and demonstrate the tonal colours of the instrument through improvisation.

This suite of diploma examinations was developed in direct response to a request from several members who are church organists/recitalists and sought the opportunity to gain a qualification in this very specialised area.

Scope of the Assessment

The criteria for each level of Assessment (A, L & F) are slightly different but aim to establish the Candidate's ability to Extemporise/Improvise in a variety of styles with music reminiscent of the different periods, but also with the Candidate demonstrating their ability to use as much tonal colour as is appropriate and relative to the selected instrument.

At Associateship level, a number of contrasted performances are required. See below for details.

At Licentiateship level, a number of contrasted performances are required. See below for details

At Fellowship level, a single major submission OR a number of contrasted performances are required. See below for details

Generic Rules

Candidates are asked to study the specific Requirements, plus the Marking Criteria before proceeding.

Candidates at ALL Levels will be additionally expected to demonstrate the full 'tonal pallet' of the instrument approprialty and comprehensively. Questions will also be discussed in the post practical performance stage at the viva voce.

Candidates are permitted to use copies of the themes and textually written plans for development and guidance but not manuscript jottings/developments etc.

A standard 3-part Assessment has been provided for Candidates at each level. The Diploma Level dictates the standards required and the specific requirements reflect the performance standard required. However, the Assessment Marking Scheme is Generic and outcomes are determined by national standard boundaries for each diploma level.

Associateship requirements

At Associateship level, a number of contrasted performances are required. The Candidate is required to perform a programme which has THREE distinctive Sections:

Section 1. - The SET REQUIREMENTS

The Candidate is required to extemporise FIVE VARIATIONS on a Hymn Tune (cm) at sight. after playing the Tune which will be given on the day (duration 5 mins)

TWO Melodic fragments will be sent to the candidate two weeks prior to the assessment. S/he must select and prepare one for the Assessment, and may develop it into any recognised *form.

*The form and stylistic period must be stated prior to the commencement of playing. (duration 5 mins)

Section 2. - The CANDIDATE SUBMISSION(S)

He/she should perform a theme of his/her own choosing and play it in either free style OR as a Fugato OR imitative counterpoint (duration 5 mins)

Candidate selected Themes are to be presented in a written/printed format prior to the Assessment commencing at the time of application.

The Candidate is invited to perform an extemporisation in a stated ORGAN style of any mainstream ORGAN composer. The choice of the thematic material is left to the candidate. (duration 5 mins). Themes to be presented in written/printed form prior to the Assessment commencing.

Section 3. - Viva Voce - post performance

Questions will be asked which arose as a direct result of the performance.

The questions asked (but not the responses) will be printed in your post Assessment Report.

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Licentiateship requirements

At Licenciateship level, a number of contrasted performances are required. The Candidate is require to perform a programme which has THREE distinctive Sections and is representative of the status of a Licentiate Diploma.

Section 1. - The SET REQUIREMENTS

The candidate is required to extemporise Between Eight & Ten VARIATIONS on a Hymn Tune (87.87.87) OR a piece of Plainsong at sight after playing the Tune which will be given on the day (5 mins) The tune does not count towards the Variations. One Key change (minimum) is required. The new key choice(s) is/are left to the player. Enharmonic changes are not acceptable. One Change from Major to minor or the reverse (depending on the original setting) is also required. (10 mins)

The candidate will be sent THREE Melodic fragments 2 weeks prior to the assessment. S\/he must select and prepare one for the Assessment, and may develop it into any recognised *form.

*The form and stylistic period must be stated prior to the commencement of playing.

Section 2. - The CANDIDATE SUBMISSION(S)

The Candidate:

Should perform a theme of his/her own choosing and play it in either free style OR as a Fugato OR imitative counterpoint (5 mins)

Is invited to perform an extemporisation in the style of a named composer. The choice of the thematic material is left to the candidate. (5 mins)

Section 3. - Viva Voce Post Performance

Questions will be asked which arose as a direct result of the performance. The questions asked (but not the responses) will be printed in your post Assessment Report.

Go to assessment grid

Fellowship requirements

At Fellowship level, a number of contrasted performances are required. See Attached sheet for Full Requirements.

At this advanced level the Candidate is require to perform a programme which has THREE distinctive Sections and is representative of the status of a Licentiate Diploma.

Section 1. - The SET REQUIREMENTS

The candidate is required to extemporise a Baroque Style (any country) Ciacona , Passacaglia, or Canzonetta on a given theme. The melodic theme (a choice of one out of three) will be supplied 2 weeks prior to the Assessment. The theme does not count towards the Variations. The Candidate must inform the Assessor and the audience the period of the work and the composer of the style.

Section 2. - The CANDIDATE SUBMISSION(S)

The candidate should perform a Fugue OR Fugato OR imitative counterpoint on a theme of his/her own choosing. The thematic material must be played separately prior to the commencement of the extemporisation. It must also be in written format for the Assessors AND audience. The Themes must be presented at the time of application.

The candidate is invited to perform an extemporisation in the style of any named ORGAN composer.

The work MUST be in a recognised style for ORGAN.

The choice of the thematic material is left to the candidate.

The thematic material must be played separately prior to the commencement of the extemporisation. It must also be in written format for the Assessors AND audience.

Section 3 - Viva Voce Post Performance

Questions will be asked which arose as a direct result of the performance. The questions asked (but not the responses) will be printed in your post Assessment Report.

NMSM Extemporisation/improvisation examinations`

 
Assessment Level ANMSM
Duration (actual playing time) 20 mins
Candidate's proposed application submissions Own Submissions. Two Melodic themes & written outline of developments See notes.
Assessment requirements on the day Four contrasted works. See notes.
Viva 20 mins (max)
Public recital Optional
Address audience Optional
Programme themes Yes
Written element None
Aural tests None
 
Assessment Level LNMSM
Duration (actual playing time) 25 mins
Candidate's proposed application submissions Own Submissions. Three to five melodic themes & written outline of developments. See notes.
Assessment requirements on the day Four contrasted works. See notes.
Viva 20-30 mins (max)
Public recital Preferred
Address audience Yes
Programme themes Yes
Written element None
Aural tests None
 
Assessment Level FNMSM
Duration (actual playing time) 35 mins
Candidate's proposed application submissions Own submissions. Three melodic themes & written outline of developments. See notes.
Assessment requirements on the day Negotiable forms/styles. Three works in total. See notes.
Viva 25-35 mins (max)
Public recital Preferred
Address audience Yes
Programme themes Yes
Written element None
Aural tests None