I attended a theory Seminar at the beginning of 2010. I can’t remember if it was held in February or March but I did take lots of notes that I thought might be useful to post here.
Discussed was the upcoming Online Theory Examinations, written exams in general and the change to the Folk Songs.
So first of all, who looks after the theory examinations? The practical examinations are covered by your State’s AMEB Board, written examinations are currently covered by your State’s AMEB Board however the online theory examinations will be covered by AMEB Federal (which I believe is Victoria, but correct me if I’m wrong).
For written examinations and the change to Folk Songs, we were advised the following:-
- Teachers: Know your syllabus.
- For folk songs: You will now need to teach your students to recognise some bars from the folk tunes. They will need to name them. They may need to add in the key signature, recognise 4 random bars from the folk tunes (4 random but ‘together’, not 4 taken randomly from anywhere in the folk song). They have to name the title of one, two or three songs. Don’t be fooled thinking you have to name 3 different songs. They could have 2 or 3 that are the same! You may also need to add in phrasing or a time signature? Still up for discussion this last one (Note: I had students sit the May 2010 examinations and as the Syllabus only mentioned that students simply had to name the songs, and the question in their examination papers asked them to name them and write the correct key signature, all students were awarded full marks – 9 marks for this question).
- Intervals – you will get full marks if you get these questions correct. It’s either 2 marks or nothing. You cannot half get this question correct.
- If the question is outside the syllabus, full marks will be awarded.
- The number and quality of intervals is out of 4 marks. You don’t get half a mark for the quality and half a mark for the number. It will either be marked correct if you have both, or incorrect if you only have 1 or none. Note: Use Ordinal numbers only (ie First, Second, Third etc) NOT Cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3 etc). Cardinal numbers are scale degree numbers, not the ones they want in theory examinations for this question.
- Written scales are marked on an “impression” basis. Usually there is 1 mark per task awarded for correct notation.
- Relevant signs and terms: use those found in the Manual of Syllabus pertaining to your grade.
- Examiners have been finding problems with students not recognising key or chordal framework. There are lots of grammatical errors, incorrect stems, use of consecutive octaves etc.
- Chord symbols are not required to be used in Theory but can be used in Musicianship. They will not be marked in Theory if a student puts them in.
- Teachers are encouraged to read the Examiners Report published on the AMEB Federal website towards the end of the year.
- Also a big hint NOT to write alternative answers. Only the first answer a student writes will be marked.
- Remind students not to mark their own papers. Examiners find this a little arrogant, difficult especially when the students mark in red pen (and surprisingly students DO do it) and examiners just don’t like it at all.
- Remind students also not to use their examination paper as ‘scribble paper’. If they do need scribble paper for working out answers, if they simply put their hand up and ask for ‘scribble/working out paper’, the examiners will gladly hand them some, which will be stapled to their examination paper, but will NOT be marked.
How long can we expect theory papers to be returned to teachers?
Answer: Allow 1 week for all the papers to come in from all over Australia (including Tasmania). Allow another 3 weeks for marking (those poor examiners with a room FULL of papers and they don’t get much of a break for those 3 weeks straight). A minimum of 4 weeks. (Note: I personally say allow 6 weeks, because it can take slightly longer for the papers to come in for marking, and get sent back out to you pending on Australia Post – and I would NOT like to be the one marking them, so I’m happy to wait that long).
Next post will be about the online theory examinations.