What happens when you pass the Music Aptitude Test?

Most schools use a 2-stage Music Scholarship selection process spread across two days. Round 1 is the Music Aptitude Test that usually consists of 60 questions covering Pitch, Rhythm, Texture and Melody. The top scoring students will be invited back (usually on a separate day) to perform on their chosen instrument(s) or voice.

Whilst many schools say that no musical experience is required there is most definitely the expectation for a student to perform on an instrument. Have a look at the Round 2 information for the SW Herts Consortium schools:

Music Aptitude Test Second Stage:

  • You will be given time to warm up prior to your performance.
  • Your performance time must not be longer than 3 minutes.
  • You cannot bring your own accompanist.
  • If you wish for a member of our staff to accompany you, you must bring music sheets for them.
  • You may only play one piece of music. A medley is a musical composition made up of a series of songs or short pieces; this is allowed, as long as the piece is one continuous piece. Two separate pieces are not allowed.
  • If you require a non-electronic piano for your warm-up, you must request this upon registration, otherwise an electronic piano will be offered. A non-electronic piano (with pedals) will be available for the actual test though you must request this of the Clerks upon registration when you arrive.
  • If you require an electronic piano for your test, you must request this of the Clerks upon registration when you arrive. Whilst an electronic piano/keyboard may be available for your warm-up, one may not be available in the examination room. Please ensure that you ask the Clerks for one to be offered for the actual test.
  • Although pianos are provided for the assessment, along with a generic Casio keyboard (as found in many schools), we recommend that you bring your own portable keyboard from home if you are more familiar with this instrument or if you require any other type than Casio.
  • Amps and music stands can be provided.
  • Any backing track must be brought on CD only. Please ensure that the track required is clearly specified and where possible, the only track on the CD to avoid confusion. We cannot listen to back tracks brought in on MP3, USB or mobile phone.
  • If you require percussion/drums we have rooms set up for this, however, please note that the drum kit is acoustic. You must request this of the Clerks upon registration when you arrive.
  • The examiners will only converse with your child in order to settle them in preparation for their performance.

It is clear from the detailed information above that the school will expect you to have a well-prepared piece of music to perform. We do occasionally see students for 1-to-1 lessons that have no musical experience. Whilst some of the schools say that the Aptitude Test is designed to identify music potential, it is clear that this is a confusing statement as the second round of the audition will be difficult for students that have not prepared a performance.

Here are our tips for the second round of the Music Aptitude Test:

  1. Choose a piece that is unique and memorable. We don’t advise playing pieces from a current exam syllabus as this will likely be a popular choice amongst fellow scholarship candidates.
  2. Make sure you know how to pronounce the name of the piece and the composer. Ask your teacher for guidance if you are unsure on pronunciation.
  3. Have one or two interesting facts about the piece.
  4. Make sure you understand the performance markings and tempo information at the top of the piece (usually written in Italian).
  5. Read the footnotes if there are any. These usually contain little gems of information about your piece.

Very best of luck to all students sitting the aptitude tests for 2022 secondary school entry. If you require any assistance with preparing for the test, please book a Zoom lesson. We will answer all of your questions about the MAT and scholarships in this 1 hour session that is tailored to the exact needs of your chosen school(s).

Click to book a 1-to-1 Lesson


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