As a leading International music school, the St Cecilia School of Music has developed an innovative and progressive examination and assessment system. This “state-of-the-art” system has been widely accepted and now operates in every major centre throughout Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Italy and Malaysia. St. Cecilia is currently planning to open more centres throughout the world.
The examinations were first developed forty years ago by teachers at the St Cecilia School of Music to encourage and assess their large numbers of beginner students. The aim was to provide people of all ages with an examination experience that would compliment their overall musical development. These Beginner Grade examinations proved so successful that the system was expanded to include the Junior and Preliminary grades.
The St Cecilia examination system was designed and is administered by professional teachers. In fact, teachers are regularly invited to contribute to the content of the syllabus and are encouraged to submit ideas and suggestions that will allow for continued improvement and efficiency.
The refinement of the system has continued over the years with syllabuses extended to offer a complete suite of graded examinations, concert certificates and diplomas.
Students who successfully complete the St. Cecilia examinations will have shown evidence of thorough preparation and quality musicianship. Without compromising standards, our system has a record of being user-friendly for teachers and stimulating for students.
Today, St. Cecilia Examinations are offered for Pianoforte, Piano Duet, Violin, Cello, Viola, Double Bass, Electronic Organ, Digital Piano, Modern Piano & Jazz, Singing, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Classical Guitar, Modern Bass, Contemporary Guitar, Drum Kit, Recorder and Music Theory & Composition and Drama & Communication. Syllabuses for other instruments are currently being devised.
Most of these subjects are offered at the Beginner, Junior and Preliminary levels, as well as in eight grades and eight concert and recital certificates. St. Cecilia Diplomas are taken in Performance and Teaching. as well as Research and Composition. The Certificate in Music Teaching is available for teachers who principally teach students at the elementary levels only.
Each examination syllabus contains a wide selection of pieces to ensure the examination is as individual and enjoyable as possible for each of our candidates. A diverse selection of Australian and New Zealand compositions is available and we are also keen to develop our international content.
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An important feature of the St Cecilia Beginner, Junior and Preliminary grades is the examination report form. This mode of assessment has been designed to cover all key aspects of the student’s technical and musical development. It allows the examiner to comment on areas such as posture, tone, rhythmic fluency, intonation, evenness, dynamics and interpretation. Students at these levels are required to perform three items, demonstrate a basic technical awareness through scales, chords and exercises or musicianship, and respond to simple ear tests and general knowledge questions relating to the pieces they are playing.
From grades one to eight, students are assessed principally on their musical performance. Four items must be chosen from an extensive list of works drawn from current publications. For some subjects an “Own Choice” section is available. Ear tests are not required for the St. Cecilia grade one to eight examinations and Sight-reading is not examined at any level. A separate series of graded musicianship examinations, which can be taken concurrently with a practical examination, are currently being designed to provide a very thorough course of study in these areas. Concert Certificate examinations are available for ALL grade levels. Students need only perform four works chosen from any of the items within the grade syllabus. Performance skills, which include stagecraft and etiquette,dress and a written programme, form a major part of the assessment. An audience may be present.
St. Cecilia Examiners
All St. Cecilia examiners hold appropriate music and education qualifications and are appointed to the examining panel after fulfilling strict criteria. Each examiner must be a practicing teacher and have proven teaching and communication skills. It is a pre-requisite that examiners themselves use the SCSM system for their own students.
Accreditation & Recognition
All St. Cecilia grades are units towards St. Cecilia School of Music teaching diplomas. The School is pleased to also accept grade certificates from other examining boards in order to fulfil this requirement. St. Cecilia teachers are well-equipped to establish their own teaching practices and advice and assistance is given where possible. Various government authorities recognise St. Cecilia examinations for inclusion on school and college education certificates eg. Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland. The Music Teachers' Associations of New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia have accredited SCSM Diplomas for membership.
Examination Centres and Exam Sessions
Examinations are currently held in all major centres throughout Australia and New Zealand as well as in Hong Kong and Malaysia. St. Cecilia is keen to establish it’s presence anyway in the world where there is a demand.