March 19, 2012
(Quoted from “Diploma Syllabus: Music Performance from 2005” – DipABRSM Section 2.2 Quick Study, by the Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music)
In this section of the exam you are required to perform a short piece of unaccompanied and previously unseen music of a standard similar to ABRSM grade 6 repertoire.
Before you performed the quick study, you will be given five minutes in which to look through the music and to try out any parts of it. During this time examiners will not be assessing you. It total, the Quick Study lasts up to 10 minutes.
The standard of the quick study test piece is similar to the demands of the current repertoire list for the indicated ABRSM grade. You will therefore find it helpful to look at the pieces set for your instruments at this grade. Since the quick study tests have all been composed specifically for the diploma exams and they tend to be in a modern, approachable style, although some of the tests have been written in pastiche styles. For keyboard instruments, guitar and harp, the test will normally be laid out over two pages. For all other instruments, the test will normally occupy one page.
It is not the length of the test but the technical and musical challenges with which you will be presented that you should concentrate on in preparing for the exam.
Making it a habit to explore music unknown to you, and treating the exploration as a quick study exercise, will give you useful experience for the exam.
Using the five minutes’ preparation time to full advantage is vital to your success in the Quick Study. To play through sections that do not need any attention is a waste of valuable time – go straight to the bars that matter. Try to avoid the common mistakes of either playing too slowly in order to get every note correct, or nervously hurrying and tripping over. Getting just the right tempo to allow the music to “speak” is crucial. And finally, try to project musical content and style in an expressive way, communicating the music with your best tone quality.