Preparing for Jazz Piano Exams
Preparing for jazz piano exams adds an extra element of structure and concrete goals to your piano lessons, and provides an excellent source of motivation.
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) is the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music, which include the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the Royal Northern College of Music.
The ABRSM offers graded jazz piano exams from Grade 1 to Grade 5. The Grade 5 jazz piano exam can be used as the required prerequisite (instead of Grade 5 Theory or Grade 5 Practical Musicianship) for students who wish to pursue Grades 6 and above in the classical piano exam program. The jazz piano exam program also works great on its own!
Everyone is eligible to take these exams, and our jazz piano teachers can make sure that you pass with high marks!
If you wish to benefit from the ABRSM exam program, the first step is to tell your jazz piano teacher. Your jazz piano teacher will assess your current level, and recommend the appropriate jazz piano exam grade to begin preparing for.
Once your grade level has been determined, it is time to purchase your jazz piano exam books. There are four parts to each jazz piano exam, and four corresponding books available for each grade level, including Jazz Piano Pieces, Jazz Piano Scales, Jazz Piano Quick Studies, and Jazz Piano Aural Tests. These books are widely available in music stores.
The last step is to choose the date for your exam. You can book the exam yourself, on the ABRSM website, and your jazz piano teacher can help you decide which exam session to enter, in order to give yourself enough time to adequately prepare.
One of the most exciting features of the jazz piano exams is the space they leave for creativity. There is fully notated piano music, and sections of the exam pieces that are devoted to improvisation. However, even the fully notated sections are flexible, and the exam notes encourage students to change the music to develop their own interpretation - as any professional jazz pianist would do.
It’s important to note, however, that the ABRSM jazz piano exam program, on its own, is not complete enough to encompass the entire course of study for your jazz piano lessons. Your jazz piano teacher must supplement additional material and instruction in order for you to achieve a well-rounded and thorough jazz piano education.
In addition to jazz piano exams, the ABRSM also offers exams in music theory and classical piano. It’s even possible to take pop/rock piano exams, which are offered through a different exam board called Rockschool.