The information below gives the basis of assessment for the Scottish Traditional Music Graded Exams.These are minimalist criteria statements, giving clear guidance on what the examiner is looking for in the various sections.The examiner is aware that every performance is unique, however, and results are arrived at by balancing the various qualities in the playing.



The Scottish Traditional Music Graded Exams aim to give learners and their tutors clear milestones needed to build up the skills, knowledge and aural awareness required to perform Scottish music with authenticity and idiomatic dexterity.Examiners are experienced performers in the instrument concerned, guaranteeing the candidate an expert and insightful assessment.Candidates are assessed on their ability to perform the set tunes and supporting tests with:

Fluency and continuity

Fluent performance arises from the piece’s sustained and musically convincing delivery, the co-ordination required to produce effective rhythm and clearly articulated responses to musical prompts.Continuity refers to a piece’s consistency of tempo and forward momentum, despite the occasional error.

A sense of style and musical character

A sense of style refers to the articulation of rhythm and technique appropriate to the various types of tunes being performed, such as a strathspey or a jig.Style also refers to the adoption of phrasing, dynamics and musical character associated with a particular region or community, such as Aberdeenshire or the West Highlands, though this aspect is more appropriately identified with the higher grades.

Practical and aural musicianship

Practical musicianship in Scottish tradition often encompasses the ability to learn and manipulate music by ear.The visual communication between master and pupil, or between musicians in a session, is often just as important.The Graded Exams therefore encourage the candidate to develop aural awareness of rhythm, melodic shape, echoing of phrases, extemporisation and harmonic accompaniment to a variety of tune idioms in a face-to-face situation with the examiner.

Secure intonation

Tonal security covers one’s technical command of the instrument and includes situations where a poor instrument may be skilfully managed.It encompasses the ability to produce focused and consistent tone as appropriate to the musical context.

A sense of performance

A musician’s presentation skills the ability to establish a rapport with an audience is very important.Candidates are therefore encouraged to prepare a varied programme for the performance section and to put something of themselves into the music, both in performance and in their spoken introduction to the music; to play with conviction and, in so doing, to engage the examiner as his or her own audience.Candidates will not be marked for their spoken introductions or dialogue with the examiner, but will be marked for the overall sense of performance to which such introductions often contribute.

It will not be necessary for a candidate to meet all assessment objectives in order to pass.Weakness in one assessment objective, such as intonation, may be balanced by better performance in another, such as a clear sense of style.The mark awarded will depend in practice on the extent to which the candidate has met the assessment objectives overall.


Assessment Criteria
27-30 Distinction
·Fluent and musical
·Secure sense of style
·Confident sense of tonal and ornamental control, appropriate to the pieces performed
·A well-rounded and engaging programme
24-26 Merit
·Good continuity
·Reasonably convincing sense of style
·Evidence of tonal awareness and ornamental
·A thoughtful, well-prepared presentation
20-23 Pass
·Reasonable continuity
·Cautious attempt at style
·Prompt recovery from any slips
·Evidence of careful preparation
16-19 Below Pass Standard
·Poor technical facility
·No attempt at style
·Halting or incomplete
·Little sense of musicality
·Little or no technical facility
·Very poor continuity or musicality
·Weak in all respects
Below 10
Not of the standard required

Quick Study
·Fluent, accurate delivery
·Clear evidence of understanding, apprehension and musicality
·Confident and prompt response
·Reasonable sense of musicality
·Steady, continuous delivery
·Musically intact, despite occasional errors
·Generally steady delivery
10-13 Below Pass Standard
·Many technical errors resulting in poor continuity
·Largely devoid of musicality or style
Below 10
Not of the standard required.
Practical and Aural Musicianship
·Quick, confident and accurate response to all tests
·Evidence of secure insight into rhythmic
·Reasonably prompt, effective response to the
majority of tests
·Minor inaccuracies or hesitation
·Approximately half the tests correctly answered
·Comprehension, despite some hesitation or error
10-13 Below Pass Standard
·Poor response
·Inaccuracies in parts of all tests
Below 10
Not of the standard required.
Technical Work
·Quick and accurate response throughout
·Fluent, even and musically shaped
·Tonally secure
·Ready response
·Tonally mostly accurate
·Well prepared
·Cautious response, but evidence of preparation
·Tonally reasonably secure, despite some errors
·Momentum generally maintained
8-11 Below Pass Standard
·Poor response
·Sporadic and uneven tempo throughout
·Tonally insecure
Below 8
Not of the standard required.