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Recorded accompaniments in Singing for Musical Theatre Practical Grades

1 month ago


During June and July only, candidates taking Singing for Musical Theatre Practical Grades in a face-to-face exam can choose to sing their accompanied songs with a recorded accompaniment instead of live piano accompaniment.

This is a pilot scheme to help us decide whether to offer this option in the future. It does not affect Performance Grades and candidates can continue to follow our special Covid arrangements and use recorded accompaniments for these exams from now until at least 31 July 2022.

Apart from the accompaniment there are no other changes to the exam or the way examiners make their assessment and we cannot make allowances for any difficulties linked to the use of a recorded accompaniment. You don’t have to do anything differently when you book, but we recommend that everyone involved reads the following guidance for candidates.

What kind of recording can you use?

Choose what works best for you. This could be a commercially available backing track or a specially-made recorded accompaniment. The accompaniment can feature any instrument or group of instruments, or can be synthesised.

All recordings must:

  • be of good quality
  • not change the difficulty of the piece
  • match any syllabus requirements, such as repeats or cuts
  • be of the accompaniment only and not include the vocal part unless it is included in the published edition.

If the solo part begins on the first beat of the bar, the song will probably need a count-in or an added introduction in the accompaniment. Added introductions should be no more than a few bars long and in keeping with the song.

For Grades 1 to 5 you can use backing tracks from our Practice Partner app, available for all songs in The ABRSM Singing for Musical Theatre Songbooks. Find out more here.

Remember, that the unaccompanied song must still performed without an accompaniment.

A note about copyright

  • A commercial recording is likely to be in copyright and copying or editing to make it suitable for an exam may be an infringement. We may withhold an exam result if we have evidence that copyright law has been broken.

Before the exam

  • Test the balance of sound between the singer and the accompaniment. It is important that you can hear the accompaniment and that the examiner can hear both parts in appropriate balance.

Playing the accompaniment in the exam

  • You must provide your own battery operated or fully-charged device. This can be an MP3 player, a portable CD player, phone or tablet.
  • We don’t allow streaming from the internet as we can’t guarantee good connectivity in all venues.
  • A power point/plug sock may not be available in the exam room (or in the area of the room where the exam will take place) so please come prepared. Bring spare batteries, phone/tablet charger, power cables and external speakers as needed, plus a backup device if possible.

On the exam day

  • Another person can come into the exam room to help you set up. However, they must leave the room before the exam itself and you will need to operate your own device when moving from one track to the next.
  • Keep devices switched off when they are not being used for the accompaniment and disable the recording capabilities – recording of the exam is not allowed.
  • Remember to adjust the volume of your accompaniment before going in to the exam and make any small adjustments to the balance in the exam room if needed.
  • For backing tracks, remember to play the minus-one version and not one with a full performance.
  • With no live accompaniment the examiner won’t have the opportunity to look at the music, so please bring your exam sheet music in case the examiner needs to see it.
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