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The ACM Mark Scheme

Aim and Purpose

The aim of the Archbishops’ Chorister Medal course and examination is to develop practical work and to encourage attentive listening and reflection on the role of music in worship.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the examination, candidates should be able to:

  • Sing two contrasting solo pieces (15 marks each)
  • Sing a psalm OR Sing a plainsong proper (15 marks)
  • Sing part of a liturgical work (as if in a rehearsal environment) (15 marks)
  • Respond to a range of musicianship tests as described in the syllabus (15 marks)
  • Participate in a Viva Voce examination during which questions will be asked about music theory and the liturgy (25 marks).

Assessment and grading criteria

Examiners should use the following criteria as a guide, but should exercise discretion where elements from more than one band are present. It is not necessary for candidates to pass every section in order to be awarded the medal, but the total number of marks must be 60 or more out of 100. For a distinction, every section must be passed, and the total number of marks must be 80 or more out of 100.

Candidates will be of different ages. There is no minimum age, but a maximum of 18 years. Marking, and questions asked in the Viva, should take account of this – for example, to reach the Outstanding category more will be expected of older candidates who have been singing for perhaps up to ten years than of those in the early teenage years, and particularly of those who are younger still.

If a piece, listening test, or any other element of the examination is not attempted at all, the mark for that element is 0.

Two contrasting pieces

The examiner will use the following criteria as a guide, but will exercise discretion where elements from more than one band are present. Each piece will be marked out of 15, the total being the sum of three marks out of 5 for particular aspects of the performance.

Marks in the Outstanding category are to be awarded in exceptional circumstances, where no more could reasonably be expected of the candidate at this level. Marks in the Excellent category are to be awarded where there are just isolated concerns or minor inadequacies.

MarksAccuracy of notes, rhythm, tempo and fluency
‘Errors’ may concern apparent misreadings or missed accidentals; ‘slips’ are passing imperfections.
1Poor.
Very obtrusive errors of pitch and rhythm.
Inappropriate and/or unsteady tempo.
Seriously lacking in fluency – little sense of continuity.
2Limited.
Some noticeable errors of pitch and/or rhythm.
Initial tempo may be broadly correct, but with some unsteadiness and/or failure to observe change(s) of tempo.
Some passages are fluent, but there are several hesitations.
3Good.
Some minor slips of pitch and/or rhythm (with perhaps an isolated error).
Tempo/changes of tempo broadly correct and steady.
Generally fluent – but with some unevenness or just one or two hesitations.
4Excellent.
5Outstanding.

MarksVocal quality, intonation, diction
1Poor.
Vocal quality generally weak and undeveloped.
Intonation mostly sharp or flat, or a mixture of the two.
Words generally inaudible/incomprehensible.
2Limited.
Vocal quality often weak and in need of development.
Intonation conspicuously inaccurate in a number of places.
Words not always audible/comprehensible.
3Good.
Vocal quality pleasing for much of the time, but with some minor challenges or shortcomings.
Intonation generally accurate, but with just a few ‘moments'.
Words always audible/ comprehensible, but there may be a few reservations about pronunciation.
4Excellent.
5Outstanding.

MarksGeneral musicianship and sense of style
‘Communication’ includes the general appearance and posture of the singer. ‘Phrasing’ will be affected by the efficiency or otherwise of the breathing.
1Poor.
Very little (if any) attention to dynamics and phrasing.
Very little sense of communication, and apparently very little understanding of style and character.
2Limited.
Some (but insufficient or inconsistent) attention to dynamics and phrasing.
Some attempt to communicate, but little understanding of style and character.
3Good.
Generally satisfactory dynamics and phrasing, but a few omissions and/or misjudgements.
Generally satisfactory communication, and understanding of style, but a few minor lapses or inconsistency.
4Excellent.
5Outstanding.

Singing a psalm OR Singing a plainsong proper

 Re-use the above mark scheme to provide a mark out of 15 for whichever of the above two options is chosen.

Singing part of a liturgical work from a given list of repertoire

Re-use the first two tables above to provide a mark out of 10 – and then award a mark out of 5 from the table immediately below, in order to make up a mark out of 15 for this part of the examination.

MarksGeneral musicianship, sense of style, and responsiveness to the ‘rehearsal environment’
‘Communication’ includes the general appearance and posture of the singer. ‘Phrasing’ will be affected by the efficiency or otherwise of the breathing.
1Poor.
Very little (if any) attention to dynamics and phrasing.
Very little sense of communication, and apparently very little understanding of style and character.
Obvious unfamiliarity with the section selected by the examiner.
Great difficulty in responding to the examiner’s directives.
2Limited.
Some (but insufficient or inconsistent) attention to dynamics and phrasing.
Some attempt to communicate, but little understanding of style and character.
Some apparent unfamiliarity with the section selected by the examiner.
Difficulty in responding to some of the examiner’s directives.
3Good.
Generally satisfactory dynamics and phrasing, but a few omissions and/or misjudgements.
Generally satisfactory communication, and understanding of style, but a few minor lapses or inconsistency.
Reasonable degree of familiarity with the section selected by the examiner
Able to respond promptly to the examiner’s directives, although not always successfully.
4Excellent.
5Outstanding.

Four musicianship tests

Test 1: Singing notes from a major triad in root position. 3 marks
Test 2: Rhythmic memory. 3 marks
Test 3: What has changed? 3 marks
Test 4: Sight singing. 6 marks

See the Grid below.

Test 1Test 2Test 3Test 4Results
1111 or 2Poor attempt.
2223 or 4(Most of) the answer is correct (but not necessarily answered promptly)
5Almost entirely correct
3336Entirely correct; answer is prompt

Viva voce

The Viva is in two parts – questions on music theory and discussion of liturgical matters. These must be marked separately, out of 15 and 10 respectively.

Theory

MarksResults
1-5Poor.
Answers are generally inaccurate, too short and/or uninformative.
6-8Limited.
Some answers are correct, but may be slow in coming
9-11Good.
Most answers are correct or partly correct, and at least some are given promptly and confidently
12-14Excellent.
All or almost all answers are correct and given promptly
15Outstanding.
All answers show depth of knowledge and understanding, and are given promptly, fluently and with appropriate technical terminology.

Liturgy

MarksResults
1-3Poor.
Answers are generally inaccurate, too short and/or uninformative.
Answers show little clarity or relevance.
4-5Limited.
Some answers show some sound knowledge, but may not be well expressed.
Other answers are inappropriately brief, lacking detail, and/or have dubious relevance.
6-7Good.
Most answers go beyond short undeveloped remarks, and show sound knowledge, clarity and relevance.
Some general sense of personal involvement.
8-9Excellent.
All or almost all answers are clearly focussed and effectively expressed, showing good first-hand knowledge.
Some sense of personal involvement and ownership.
10Outstanding.
All answers are clearly focussed and fluently expressed, showing extensive first-hand knowledge, and clear evidence of first-hand knowledge. Well-developed ability to argue persuasively, with a genuine sense of personal involvement and ownership throughout.

Chorister medals