Many schools state that no musical experience or knowledge is required to apply for a Music Scholarship place and that the test is designed to identify future music potential.
This is an interesting statement as we have been preparing young musicians for well over a decade for UK state school entry and all of the successful candidates have all displayed a significant level of talent for voice or an instrument.
Most schools use a 2-part music test. In the first round you have to pass a multiple-choice listening test called the Music Aptitude Test. This is usually 60 questions comprising pitch, melody, texture, rhythm and sometimes additional questions. It is entirely possible to pass this test (usually around 46/60 although that varies each year based on the group score) without any musical knowledge. However many schools will call you back to perform on your chosen instrument at the second round and this is where it gets rather complicated if you have not sung or played an instrument before as you will not be able to perform at the second round.
For students that we meet a few months before the auditions, we always encourage them to sing so that they have something to offer at the second round. Realistically, it is not usually possible to learn a new instrument to scholarship standard within a month or two.
We do know that certain instruments are less popular and these are good choices if you are in Year 3 or 4 and looking to learn an instrument that you could probably get to a sufficient standard for an audition in Year 6. Brass instruments are always a good choice, as is singing and drums. We have seen a good success rates amongst these instruments, ditto lesser played instruments such as the viola and double bass.
The most commonly presented instruments are piano, violin and guitar. These will be the most competitive instruments and it’s good to have a second instrument option which can be voice. Singing is always an excellent choice to offer on audition day as pretty much every school with an active music department will have at least one choir.
Making the decision whether to apply for the music aptitude test or not is very much based on the individual student. We always feel the word ‘scholarship’ implies a significant degree of aptitude and enthusiasm for the instrument(s). Students that have a real love for their instrument and can talk about the pieces they are playing and know some information about the composer stand a good chance of impressing on audition day. Music performed must be well-prepared and presented. We can give you tips on how to make a good impression on audition day. Do not leave it to the last minute to prepare for the audition – put a date in the diary for July or August to give you time to identify any areas that need specific attention and preparation.
We have dates available until 4th of September 2021 to offer you assistance with Music Aptitude Test preparation. These are 1-to-1 lessons on Zoom enabling students from all over the UK to access our tuition service. Once the new academic year starts on September 6th then we will not have many spaces available for lessons so we advise booking a session well in advance to give your child the best chance to prepare fully for the tests.
Download Training Test Materials
Parents ask us if preparation is really necessary for the Music Aptitude Test as some schools say no preparation is required. We see several children each week from March to September 2021 for test preparation and usually only 1 or 2 sessions are required to prepare to a sufficient standard. Gaining some familiarity with the unusual style of listening tests instils a sense of confidence on test day. Preparing a piece fully and giving a student good performance skills and responses to audition questions is certainly advantageous for audition day.
Here is a sample of what we cover in a 1-to-1 lesson.
Download Training Test Materials