Monthly Archives: April 2018

Jazz or Classical Music Exam Route?

Nowadays a number of our students choose to do grade exams on their instrument. The exams are a more formal and official way of illustrating someone’s ability and level of playing a musical instrument – when someone asks about your ability to play, by telling them of the grade that you are at will give them a good idea. At the same time, when applying for schools or scholarships, having passed your grade exams, will demonstrate our commitment to your instrument and you can score extra points from having passed such exams.

With any musical instrument that you play, it is better not to start doing grade exams till you feel ready and have mastered all the basics. It will be much easier to learn your materials for Grade One once you feel confident in your technique and your sight-reading ability. A good way to test whether you are ready for a grade exam is by going along to the Pre-Test. This Prep Test is ‘a soft landing’ to grade exams. It gives you a good idea of what the exams are all about and whether you are ready to embark on the exam journey.

The Prep Test has the same structure as the following exams – you will need to learn and memorize three pieces, do an aural test (consists of clapping, humming and some music theory related questions) and play scales. For the Prep-Test, you will receive a short written report with an indication if you passed. For the following exams, you will receive a full report with a break down for how many points you received for each sections followed by points. You will need at least 100 points to pass, 120 for a merit and 140 for a distinction.

There are 8 grades in total, after which you can carry on to study for a diploma.

After playing your instrument for a few years, you might have grown to like playing different types of music. For the Grade Exams, you can chose between Jazz Exams or Classical Exams. If you opt for the classical route, you will be learning beautiful classical pieces either by famous composers or more recent modern pieces by contemporary composers. For the jazz route, you will be learning blues and jazz pieces in more traditional or modern forats. All the jazz pieces will include sections for improvisations ad free styling.

In a nutshell, if you crave something more creative, go for the jazz ones; if you enjoy playing from notation and learning grand classical pieces, go for the classical route!

spanish sketch


Music Teacher Training Project in Uganda: Final Report on the Pilot Study

Our exploratory pilot study on the current practices and ways forward in the field of music education in Uganda took place from September 2017 to March 2018. During this time, we collected a vast sample of data from education professionals in Uganda, and conducted a thorough literature review on music education in the country. The exploratory approach enabled us to remain open-minded and with explored the issue with curiosity.

The main findings highlighted the evident discrepancy between the very musical culture across Uganda and the lack of and poor standard of music education found in schools. One would think that a country with such rich musical traditions would place emphasis on ensuring that the younger generations are educated in the field; however, what we discovered is that locals want to learn practical musical skills, yet schools fail to deliver music to a high enough standard. Further findings were a lack of national monitoring and assessment in music, as well as teachers feeling poorly qualified to teach the subject.

Moreover, a significant finding was that there is a need for professional musicians across the country, as live musical performances take place daily in all sorts of cultural functions ranging from school ceremonies to funeral. The fact that the younger generation are not learning practical musical skills in school is resulting in there being a growing void of professional musicians. At the same time, unemployment and poverty amongst the youth are increasing. This indicates that the young could be trained in practical musical skills in order to assist them in finding employment as musicians and avoiding falling into poverty.

We are currently seeking further funding for building a larger-scale project on the basis of the findings. The intention of the bigger project would be to trial training teachers in music and piloting a new improved music education curriculum. As part of the project, awareness of workshops on choosing music s a career would also be piloted.

For a full report on the findings from the first study, please see: