With around 10% of all candidates for graded music examinations worldwide coming from Singapore, and with the Singapore Government itself regarding certification from the London-based exam board – the ABRSM - as a pre-requisite for local music teachers, graded exams are clearly significant and deeply-entrenched drivers in the musical-education landscape here. Marc Rochester explores the reasons why Singapore has developed such an obsession with graded music exams, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the system, and asks whether its dominance in Singapore music education is beneficial or even desirable.
A practical examiner with the ABRSM for 20 years, a theory, practical and diploma examiner for Trinity College London for another 16, and, until 2016, both an Assistant Chief Examiner and Asian and Australasian Regional Consultant for Trinity, Dr Marc Rochester has an immense knowledge of the graded exam system, especially as it relates to music education in Singapore. As an active performing musician and as a music educator, he also sees the impact of graded music exams beyond the examination studio.
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• Out of respect for other concert goers, no children under 6 years of age will be allowed admission.