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Viola Grade 1 Viola

Viola Grade 1 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Viola Grade 1 (2020–2023)

Pieces

Musicians learn to play an instrument to explore and perform repertoire, which is why pieces are at the core of the exam – candidates are asked to present three at each grade. The syllabus repertoire is organised into three lists which explore different traditions and styles, dating from the Renaissance period to the present day.

Choosing one piece from each list gives candidates the opportunity to play a balanced selection and demonstrate a range of skills. In this syllabus, the pieces are broadly grouped into lists by the characteristics of the music:

  • List A pieces are generally faster moving and require technical agility
  • List B pieces are more lyrical and invite expressive playing
  • List C pieces reflect a wide variety of musical traditions, styles and characters.

Most of the pieces require an accompaniment, as interacting with other musicians is an important musical skill, but there are also opportunities to choose solo pieces and develop confidence with unaccompanied playing.

We hope that by offering this variety in the syllabus, candidates will find music that inspires them and that they enjoy learning and performing.

Grade 1 Pieces

Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each. The full requirements and information for the pieces are explained after the lists.

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Patrick's Reel (PF/VA)
No. 41 from Viola Time Joggers, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 41 from Viola Time Joggers, Piano accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 41 from Viola Time Joggers, Viola accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
2 Byrd
arr. Lamb and Meredith
La Volta
from The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
3 J. Clarke
arr. Brodszky
Minuet
No. 3 from Early Music for Viola, arr. Brodszky
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.4293)

More details
4 Losy
arr. Brodszky
Bourrée
No. 2 from Early Music for Viola, arr. Brodszky
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.4293)

More details
5 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Polka Dots
No. 15 from Waggon Wheels
No. 15 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 13552)

More details
6 Handel
arr. Salter
Menuet
from Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV 351
Starters for Viola, arr. Salter
ABRSM

More details
7 Purcell
arr. Nelson
Rigadoon
(with repeat)
No. 24 from Piece by Piece 1 for Viola, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100090)

More details
8 Trad.
arr. Nelson
Dance to your daddy
No. 13 from Piece by Piece 1 for Viola, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100090)

More details
9 Suzuki
trans. Preucil and arr. Stuen-Walker
Allegretto (PF/VA)
No. 11 from Suzuki Viola School, Vol. 1, trans. Preucil
Alfred (0241S)

More details
Suzuki Viola School, Vol. A, Piano accompaniment, trans. Preucil
Alfred (0245S)

More details
Suzuki Ensembles for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Stuen-Walker
Alfred (0411S)

More details
10 Trad. English
arr. Sparke
London Bridge
No. 12 from Starter Solos for Viola, arr. Sparke
Anglo Music (AMP346-400)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Beethoven
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Hymn to Joy
from Symphony No. 9
No. 1 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 1, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
2 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Rocking Horse (PF/VA)
No. 40 from Viola Time Joggers, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 40 from Viola Time Joggers, Piano accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 40 from Viola Time Joggers, Viola accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details
3 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Full Moon
No. 22 from Waggon Wheels
No. 22 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 13552)

More details
4 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge On the Wing
No. 25 from Waggon Wheels
No. 25 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 13552)

More details
5 Elgar
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4
from Op. 39
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
6 Eleanor Murray and Sebastian Brown Melody
No. 3 from Tunes for my Viola
No. 3 from Eleanor Murray and Sebastian Brown: Tunes for my Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100029)

More details
7 Christopher Norton Hebridean Song
No. 11 from Microjazz for Starters
(upper note optional in b. 21)
No. 11 from Christopher Norton: Microjazz for Starters for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100079)

More details
8 Rodgers and Hammerstein
arr. Davey, Hussey and Sebba
Edelweiss (PF/VA)
from The Sound of Music
No. 50 from Abracadabra Viola (Third Edition), arr. Davey
Collins Music

More details
No. 50 from Abracadabra Strings, Book 1, Piano accompaniments, arr. Hussey and Sebba
Collins Music

More details
9 Philip Sparke Modal Melody
No. 14 from Starter Solos for Viola, arr. Sparke
Anglo Music (AMP346-400)

More details
10 Trad. Scottish
arr. K. and D. Blackwell
Skye Boat Song (PF/VA)
(with repeats)
No. 16 from String Time Starters for Viola, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 16 from String Time Starters, Teacher's book, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Mary Cohen Rumba (DUET)
No. 3 from Dance Duets
(upper part)
No. 3 from Mary Cohen: Dance Duets for Viola
Faber

More details
2 Thomas Gregory Fiery Fiddler
(with repeats)
No. 25 from Vamoosh Viola, Book 1, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM11)

More details
No. 25 from Vamoosh String Book 1, Piano accompaniment, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM51)

More details
3 Jim Henson and Sam Pottle
arr. Lawrance
Muppet Show Opening
Winners Galore for Viola, arr. Lawrance
Brass Wind (0402)

More details
Winners Galore for Viola, Piano accompaniment, arr. Lawrance
Brass Wind (0402PA)

More details
4 Edward Huws Jones
trans. Lamb and Meredith
Hen-Coop Rag
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
5 Alan Menken and Ashman
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Under The Sea
from The Little Mermaid
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
6 Sheila Nelson Flag Dance
No. 17 from Piece by Piece 1 for Viola, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100090)

More details
7 Christopher Norton Popular Song
No. 14 from Microjazz for Starters
No. 14 from Christopher Norton: Microjazz for Starters for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100079)

More details
8 Trad.
arr. Scott
What shall we do with the drunken sailor?
No. 2 from Play it Again for Viola, arr. Scott
Faber

More details
9 Trad. American
arr. K. and D. Blackwell
Pick a Bale of Cotton (PF/VA)
(upper part)
No. 11 from Viola Time Runners, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 11 from Viola Time Runners, Viola accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 11 from Viola Time Runners, Piano accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details
10 Trad. American
arr. Sparke
Yankee Doodle
No. 17 from Starter Solos for Viola, arr. Sparke
Anglo Music (AMP346-400)

More details

Viola requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C). In the exam, candidates should tell the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form for this.

Every effort has been made to feature a broad range of repertoire to suit and appeal to candidates of different ages, backgrounds and interests. Certain pieces may not be suitable for every candidate for technical reasons or because of wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.). Pieces should be carefully considered for their appropriateness to each individual, which may need consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research pieces online (see www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety).

Accompaniment: A live piano or string (where the option is listed) accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works (these are marked SOLO in the lists above).

At Grades Initial–3, candidates may perform some or all of their pieces with a string accompaniment. Pieces that are published as duets (or with string accompaniment only) are marked DUET in the lists above. Pieces that are published with piano and string accompaniment options are marked PF/VA in the lists above, and may be performed with either accompaniment in the exam.

Candidates must provide their own accompanist(s), who can only be in the exam room while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may accompany (examiners will not). If necessary, an accompanist may simplify any part of the accompaniment, as long as the result is musical. Recorded accompaniments are not allowed.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription (appearing as ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ in the syllabus list), the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. For all other pieces, editions are listed for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). For full details on sourcing exam music, see Obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments etc. do not need to be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are encouraged to interpret the score in a musical and stylistic way. Examiners’ marking will be determined by how control of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Vibrato: The use and control of vibrato, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome. Pieces that are heavily reliant on vibrato for their full musical effect tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: Unless the syllabus specifies differently, all da capo and dal segno indications should be followed but other repeats (including first-time bars) should not be played unless they are very short (i.e. a few bars).

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies differently. Accompanists should cut lengthy orchestral tutti sections.

Performing from memory: Candidates may perform any of their pieces from memory; if doing so, they must make sure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to. No extra marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. Candidates (and accompanists) may use an extra copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below) to help with page-turns. Candidates and accompanists at Grades 6–8 may bring a page-turner to the exam if there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn (prior permission is not required; the turner may be the candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission should be brought to the exam.

Viola Grade 1 Viola

Viola Grade 1 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Viola Grade 1 (2016–2019)

Pieces

Three pieces: one chosen by the candidate from each of the three Lists, A, B and C - 30 marks each

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Byrd
arr. Lamb and Meredith
La Volta
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
2 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Fiddlesticks
No. 18 from Waggon Wheels for Viola
No. 18 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
3 Handel
arr. Salter
Menuet
Starters for Viola, arr. Salter
ABRSM

More details
4 Suzuki Andantino
No. 12 from Suzuki Viola School, Vol. 1
Alfred–Summy-Birchard (0241S)

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Suzuki Viola School, Vol. 1 Piano Accompaniment
Alfred–Summy-Birchard (0245S)
5 Trad. English
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Shepherd’s Hey
No. 3 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 1, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
6 Trad. English
arr. Scott
When a Knight Won His Spurs
No. 1 from Play it Again for Viola, arr. Scott
Faber

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 T. H. Bayly Long, Long Ago
No. 8 from Suzuki Viola School, Vol. 1
Alfred–Summy-Birchard (0241S)

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Suzuki Viola School, Vol. 1 Piano Accompaniment
Alfred–Summy-Birchard (0245S)
2 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Rocking Horse
No. 40 from Viola Time Joggers, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Viola Time Joggers Piano Accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP
3 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Full Moon
No. 22 from Waggon Wheels for Viola
No. 22 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Waggon Wheels for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
4 Elgar
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4
Op. 39 No. 4
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
5 Kabalevsky
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Waltz
No. 8 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 1, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
6 Trad. Canadian
arr. Waterfield and Beach
Land of the Silver Birch
O Shenandoah! for Viola, arr. Waterfield and Beach
Faber

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Viola Time
No. 47 from Viola Time Joggers, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Viola Time Joggers Piano Accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP
2 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell I Got those Viola Blues
No. 22 from Viola Time Runners, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Viola Time Runners Piano Accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP
3 Margery Dawe Russia – Gopak
No. 5 from Travel Tunes for Viola
No. 5 from Margery Dawe: Travel Tunes for Viola
Cramer

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Margery Dawe: Travel Tunes for Viola Piano Accompaniment
OUP
4 Menken and Ashman
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Under the Sea
from The Little Mermaid
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
5 Salter Best Foot Forward
Starters for Viola, arr. Salter
ABRSM

More details
6 Trad. American
arr. Scott
Oh Susanna!
No. 15 from Play it Again for Viola, arr. Scott
Faber

More details

Viola requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C). In the exam, candidates should tell the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form for this.

Every effort has been made to feature a broad range of repertoire to suit and appeal to candidates of different ages, backgrounds and interests. Certain pieces may not be suitable for every candidate for technical reasons or because of wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.). Pieces should be carefully considered for their appropriateness to each individual, which may need consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research pieces online (see www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety).

Accompaniment: A live piano or string (where the option is listed) accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works (these are marked SOLO in the lists above).

At Grades Initial–3, candidates may perform some or all of their pieces with a string accompaniment. Pieces that are published as duets (or with string accompaniment only) are marked DUET in the lists above. Pieces that are published with piano and string accompaniment options are marked PF/DB in the lists above, and may be performed with either accompaniment in the exam.

Candidates must provide their own accompanist(s), who can only be in the exam room while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may accompany (examiners will not). If necessary, an accompanist may simplify any part of the accompaniment, as long as the result is musical. Recorded accompaniments are not allowed.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription (appearing as ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ in the syllabus list), the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. For all other pieces, editions are listed for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). For full details on sourcing exam music, see Obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments etc. do not need to be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are encouraged to interpret the score in a musical and stylistic way. Examiners’ marking will be determined by how control of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Vibrato: The use and control of vibrato, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome. Pieces that are heavily reliant on vibrato for their full musical effect tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: Unless the syllabus specifies differently, all da capo and dal segno indications should be followed but other repeats (including first-time bars) should not be played unless they are very short (i.e. a few bars).

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies differently. Accompanists should cut lengthy orchestral tutti sections.

Performing from memory: Candidates may perform any of their pieces from memory; if doing so, they must make sure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to. No extra marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. Candidates (and accompanists) may use an extra copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below) to help with page-turns. Candidates and accompanists at Grades 6–8 may bring a page-turner to the exam if there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn (prior permission is not required; the turner may be the candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission should be brought to the exam.

Publications & audio

Supporting applications

Aural Trainer

An award-winning aural practice application from ABRSM.

Speedshifter

A practice tool that allows you to vary the speed of audio without altering the pitch.

 

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