ABRSM Strings Syllabus

ABRSM launches new bowed strings syllabus

ABRSM, the international examinations board, released its new Bowed Strings syllabus for Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass on 6 June 2019, for use in exams from 1 January 2020 onwards.

ABRSM has worked with a range of string specialists from across the world of music education to create ‘a vibrant syllabus that will appeal to the musical imagination and curiosity of all string players, wherever they are on their journey’.

The syllabus contains new commissions, first publications and familiar favourites for string players to learn and perform in their exams. To support the new syllabus ABRSM has published books for Violin at Grades 1–8 and, for the first time, Cello at Grades 1–5, bringing together an attractive selection of pieces from across the three lists in volume for each grade.

Support for beginners is a strong focus for ABRSM. With the launch of the new Bowed Strings syllabus, ABRSM have also introduced Initial Grade, a pre-Grade 1 assessment which provides a new preparatory route to Grade 1. 

Philippa Bunting, ABRSM Learning and Qualifications Director, said:

‘For this syllabus, we have worked with the widest range of consultants yet, including specialists in beginners, as well as those working at the higher levels. Diversity of experience and opinion leads to a diverse and rich syllabus, which we are excited to now be sharing with you.’

Key dates for the ABRSM Bowed Strings syllabus

The Bowed Strings syllabus 2020–2023 comes into effect on 1 January 2020. This means that:

  • candidates can begin to present pieces from the new lists;
  • candidates can continue to present pieces from the 2016–2019 syllabus lists during the overlap period (see below);
  • scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural test requirements remain exactly the same as for the 2016–2019 syllabus.

For candidates wishing to present pieces drawn from the 2016–2019 syllabus, a one-year overlap period (up to 31 December 2020) now applies to all countries – including the UK and Ireland.

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