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The pre-preliminary test is restricted to ages four to eight, but there are no restrictions for examinations at any other level
Just one scale starting on C and E♭
The musical knowledge is a general discussion on all the points listed in the syllabus. The examiners use the syllabus to formulate their questions and this evolves depending on how the entrant answers. It often includes matters of form (including cadences and key changes) and how this developed through the eras with specific references to the pieces the entrant is playing and moves to composers and their contemporaries and the development of the instrument through the eras. It is not enough to learn specific answers. The entrant needs to be very conversant with all aspects of the musical knowledge. The examiners want to have an "Intelligent Discussion" with the entrant and are more interested in what the entrant knows rather than trying to catch them out. Examiners often ask quite open questions to give the entrant the opportunity share their knowledge
No but entrants are stongly urged to dress as for a concert performance. Smart school uniform is acceptable.
No. All entrants must present with original scores and bring a photocopy for the examiner. The only exception to this is where music is out of copyright.
Entrants should bring their own music stand. The venue may not have one.
Yes. These scales commence with the LH playing the key note while the RH plays the minor third above eg. F chromatic (F, A flat).
Yes, LH is to commence on the minor third while the RH begins on the keynote above eg. F chromatic (A flat, F).
Entrants may not use photocopies for performance (other than for facilitating page turns) in examinations, as this is prohibited by the Copyright Act. When Entrants enter the examination room they must hand copies of all pieces being performed, to the examiner, together with their examination slip.
Prescribed music for examinations should be purchased from the publishers, sheet music dealers or the internet. Please note that where pieces are listed in the Syllabus, the publishers are given mainly as an aid to locating material, and are merely suggestions; other authoritative editions of the music will be equally acceptable.
All pages downloaded from internet sites must be presented at examination including front page/s if any and the computer generated invoice showing the name of the purchaser and the name of the internet site the music was purchased from. It is important to note that not all music purchased/downloaded for free on the internet complies with international copyright laws. For any queries relating to this please contact the office.
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The NZMEB Standard exam syllabus will get the student to the same level as the Performance exam Syllabus in that the scale speeds and the degree of difficulty of the pieces is the same. However the repertoire study is less for the Standard syllabus and as the grades go higher, the lack of understanding of the different eras of music can make learning new music stylistically a lot more difficult.

In the Standard Syllabus technical work there are only 2 key groups in each grade. These change in every grade in order to cover all the keys. However the technical work in the Performance Syllabus keeps some sets from the previous grade/s and thus fingering patterns are reinforced. As the familiarity of the scales grows, finger speed and tonal quality are more thoroughly developed. Using the NZMEB Performance Syllabus over 6 years (from Preliminary to Grade 5) a student will learn of a minimum of 28 pieces including 6 Baroque era pieces, 6 Classical era pieces, 6 Romantic/Twentieth century era pieces, and 10 more pieces with different speeds, keys, time signatures, rhythms, styles and dynamics.

Entering Standard Syllabus exams (from Preliminary to Grade 5) will give the student 18 pieces in total. While the teacher may try to ensure the student learns different styles, rhythms, speeds, keys, etc it can be hard to ensure they cover all musical eras and styles with only 3 pieces per year. Also if the student dislikes a particular era of music, then it can be difficult to introduce this genre. If the scales and/or the pieces are not all at the required level (things sometimes don’t go quite to plan in the learning, from broken arms to just not quite enough practice on all of the pieces) experienced teachers have found that aiming for the Performance Syllabus and having the ability to drop back to the Standard Syllabus is helpful. If they have to make this change they will choose do so close to the exam so that the student has still nearly completed the full Performance Syllabus.

This from one of our most experienced teachers:- ‘My students find it is difficult to reach a higher standard without the breadth of the full Performance Syllabus. They all learn a Canon for Preliminary and then a piece by JS Bach every year. It is difficult to make any headway in piano playing without the discipline of playing Bach. Reaching Grade 8 without 7 pieces of Bach behind them makes it difficult to play the required baroque pieces in the grade 8 and the diploma syllabuses. I give my students a year to learn the repertoire and offer bribes (like large chocolate bars) for learning their Bach piece within 6 months. After learning their Bach they all seem to enjoy playing it. I like to teach a study and a rock/pop piece for the 2 extra repertoire pieces but sometimes allow younger students to learn 2 rock/pop pieces just to have a bit of fun. Sometimes my upper grade students choose to do the Standard syllabus at grades 7 & 8 as they are busy at school. This seems to work alright but I put in an extra year for Performers Certificate if they want to do a diploma. BUT....if you are a school student having a school group lesson over 5 years on one of the easier to play instruments (saxophone for example) you can get to grade 3 (NCEA Level 1) using the Standard Syllabus, and probably manage grades 4,5 and 6 and therefore get NCEA levels 2 & 3. It can be hard for the teacher to cover any more pieces than the standard prescription. The standard grade 6 exam is really too short on repertoire to complete NCEA Level 3. So while sometimes I keep a student going over a difficult period (like adjusting to high school or just going through that phase of “I don’t want to do piano”) by offering a couple of years of pop/rock/blues pieces, I find just putting everyone into the Performance syllabus works well.’