The Examination Process

Recognition of Achievement

The Examination Experience

The Music Development Program includes two different types of examinations: practical (performance) and theoretical. Both create an opportunity to recognize achievement and receive meaningful feedback.

Practical (Performance) Examinations

  • A comprehensive evaluation of a student's current abilities on a chosen instrument, including voice
  • Designed to be a warm and welcoming experience, one-on-one with a professional, program-certified examiner
  • Include a report from the examiner providing a breakdown of the numerical grade and constructive written comments
  • Held twice a year, with all scheduling and location arrangements made by the Music Development Program

What Can My Student Expect in a Practical (Performance) Examination?

Practical (performance) examinations evaluate the following areas of your student’s musical development:

  • Performance of three to five pieces of repertoire depending on level
  • Performance of one or two études that focus on an aspect of performance skill appropriate for the level
  • Performance of technical skills such as scales, chords, and arpeggios, which progress in difficulty from level to level in a manner consistent with the technical demands of the repertoire. An examination includes a representative sampling from the published list of requirements.
  • An evaluation of musicianship skills, appropriate for the level, through aural identification of intervals, chord qualities, cadences, and ear-to-hand playbacks of rhythms and melodies. A demonstration of rhythmic reading and sight playing ability further supports music literacy.

Theory Examinations

  • Students complete a written examination of their theoretical and/or historical knowledge in a classroom setting.
  • Theory examinations are held twice a year, with all scheduling and location arrangements made by the Music Development Program.

Certificates of Achievement

Certificates of Achievement are awarded to all students upon successful completion of an examination.

The Comprehensive Achievement Certificate is awarded to students who have completed both the practical (performance) and theory examinations for a specific level, beginning in Level 5. No application is necessary for the Comprehensive Achievement Certificate.

Certificates of Excellence

These certificates are awarded to students in each examination center and in each state who earn the highest marks for their practical (performance) examination level. No application is necessary.


Submitting Students for Examinations

How do I submit students for an examination?

You can submit students for examinations by registering at

How do I know what level is appropriate for my student?

Students can enter the Music Development Program at any level and can move from level to level at their own pace. Students and teachers should consult the syllabus/program guide to determine the appropriate level.

  • Many students and teachers start with the repertoire selections. The wide range of selections in the Music Development Program repertoire lists make it easy to match each student to a level.
  • Review the scale, chord, and arpeggio patterns required at that level, noticing keys, tempos and formats. You may find that your student is ahead in some areas, but requires further development in others. Consider those elements that are already firmly in your student’s grasp and decide which ones need additional review.
  • Finally, look at the musicianship requirements.

What if my student’s repertoire level is higher than their technical and musicianship levels?

  • If your student’s abilities in the areas of technique, ear tests, or sight reading are behind his or her current repertoire level, we generally advise that you opt for a lower level.
  • At each level, there is a range of challenge in the repertoire lists, and a student has the option of substituting a piece from the next higher level for one examination selection.
  • Planning your student's progress in this way allows them to focus on the higher levels of music making, the finesse of their performance, and the pleasure of accomplishment.
  • Your student will enjoy a high level of performance success while also securing necessary musicianship skills that will provide them with a stronger foundation.

Who will examine my students?

  • The Music Development Program is adjudicated by a professional body of distinguished teachers and performers from across North America, each of whom is a specialist in one or more areas represented in the program.
  • Examiners undergo a competitive admissions process and must meet a minimum qualifying standard before being accepted as apprentice examiners.
  • Apprentices complete an intensive series of lectures, demonstrations, and a practicum, coupled with a full year of observation in the field before promotion to full examiner.
  • All examiners engage in yearly professional development and are subject to annual performance reviews.

Students can enter the Music Development Program at any level, and can move from level to level at their own pace.