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Viola Grade 2 Viola

Viola Grade 2 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 2 (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 2 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 J. S. Bach
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Rondeau
from Orchestral Suite in B minor, BWV 1067
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
2 J. S. Bach
arr. Suzuki and trans. Preucil
Minuet No. 3
No. 17 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
3 Besard
arr. Brodszky
Ballet
No. 1 from Early Music for Viola, arr. Brodszky
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.4293)

More details
4 M.-A. Charpentier
arr. K. and D. Blackwell
Prelude (PF/VA)
from Te Deum
No. 24 from Viola Time Runners, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 24 from Viola Time Runners, Piano accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 24 from Viola Time Runners, Viola accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
5 Kenneth Jones Bourrée
New Pieces for Viola, Book 1
ABRSM (AB1544)

More details
6 Krogmann
arr. C. and K. Sassmannshaus
March (PF/VA)
Viola Recital Album, Vol. 2
Bärenreiter (BA8991)

More details
7 G. B. Martini
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Gavotte
No. 1 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 2, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
8 Weber
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Waltz
No. 18 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 2, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
9 Trad.
arr. Lawrance
Hornpipe
Winners Galore for Viola, arr. Lawrance
Brass Wind (0402)

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

More details
10 Trad. Irish
arr. Huws Jones
Red-Haired Boy (PF/VA)
(viola melody)
The Fiddler Playalong Viola Collection, arr. Huws Jones
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 11785)

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Felipe Bajo
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Habañera
No. 2 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 2, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
2 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Farewell to Skye (PF/VA)
No. 17 from Viola Time Sprinters, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 17 from Viola Time Sprinters, Piano accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 17 from Viola Time Sprinters, Viola accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
3 A. Clarke
arr. Otty
Dark-Haired Marie
No. 2 from Four Love Songs
(piano to end at b. 24)
No. 2 from A. Clarke: Four Love Songs, arr. Otty
SJ Music (D1992–3)

More details
4 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge The Misty Isle
No. 7 from Shooting Stars
No. 7 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Shooting Stars for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100113)

More details
5 Elgar Andantino
No. 4 from Very Easy Melodious Exercises in the First Position (Six Easy Pieces), Op. 22
No. 4 from Elgar: Six Very Easy Pieces in the First Position, Op. 22
Bosworth (BOE003913)

More details
6 Edward Jones
arr. Huws Jones
Glwysen (PF/VA)
(viola melody)
The Fiddler Playalong Viola Collection, arr. Huws Jones
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 11785)

More details
7 Reinecke
arr. Kreuzer
Primula veris
No. 2 from Zehn kleine stücke, Op. 213
(grace notes optional)
No. 2 from Reinecke: Ten Little Pieces for Viola and Piano, Op. 213, arr. Kreuzer
Schott (VAB 59)

More details
8 Schubert
arr. Lamb and Meredith
To Music
D. 547
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
9 Tchaikovsky
arr. Salter
Old French Song
No. 16 from Album pour enfants, Op. 39
Starters for Viola, arr. Salter
ABRSM

More details
10 Trad. North American
arr. Waterfield and Beach
Simple Gifts
O Shenandoah! for Viola, arr. Waterfield and Beach
Faber

More details

List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Arlen & Harburg
arr. Davey, Hussey and Sebba
We're off to see the wizard (PF/VA)
from The Wizard of Oz
No. 70 from Abracadabra Viola (Third Edition), arr. Davey
Collins Music

More details
No. 70 from Abracadabra Strings, Book 1, Piano accompaniments, arr. Hussey and Sebba
Collins Music

More details
2 Bartók
trans. Maurice and Bigelow
Play Song (DUET)
No. 9 from 44 Duos
(upper part)
No. 9 from Bartók: 44 Duets for Two Violas, trans. Maurice and Bigelow
Editio Musica Budapest (Z.14970)

More details
3 Kathy Blackwell and David Blackwell Jacob's Dance (PF/VA)
No. 8 from Viola Time Sprinters, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 8 from Viola Time Sprinters, Piano accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
No. 8 from Viola Time Sprinters, Viola accompaniment, arr. K. and D. Blackwell
OUP

More details
4 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Morris Dancers
No. 3 from Shooting Stars
(with repeat)
No. 3 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Shooting Stars for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100113)

More details
5 Thomas Gregory Smooth Operator
No. 20 from Vamoosh Viola, Book 2, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM12)

More details
No. 20 from Vamoosh String Book 2, Piano accompaniment, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM52)

More details
6 Laubach
arr. C. and K. Sassmannshaus
Soldier's March (PF/VA)
(lower note in double stopping optional)
Viola Recital Album, Vol. 2
Bärenreiter (BA8991)

More details
7 Philip Sparke Pony and Trap
No. 2 from Skilful Solos for Viola, arr. Sparke
Anglo Music (AMP349-400)

More details
8 Stravinsky
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Shrove-Tide Fair Themes
from Petrushka
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
9 Trad.
arr. Nelson
Mango Walk
No. 7 from Piece by Piece 2 for Viola, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1100092)

More details
10 Trad. American
arr. Waterfield and Beach
Old Joe Clark
O Shenandoah! for Viola, arr. Waterfield and Beach
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/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 2 Viola

Viola Grade 2 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 2 (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 J. S. Bach
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Rondeau
from Orchestral Suite in B minor, BWV 1067
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
2 J. S. Bach Minuet No. 1
No. 15 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)
3 Charpentier
arr. Blackwell
Prelude
from Te Deum
No. 24 from Viola Time Runners, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Viola Time Runners Piano Accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP
4 J.-F. Dandrieu
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Les bergers rustiques
No. 11 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 2, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
5 G. B. Martini
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Gavotte
No. 1 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 2, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
6 Playford
arr. Bass and Harris
The Twenty-Ninth of May
from The Dancing Master
Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Bass and Harris
ABRSM

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge Snake Charmer
No. 21 from Fast Forward for Viola
No. 21 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Fast Forward for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
2 Edward Jones
arr. Huws Jones
Glwysen (The Fairest One)
(viola melody)
The Fiddler Playalong Viola Collection, arr. Huws Jones
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
3 Mozart
arr. Bass and Harris
Theme from Andante grazioso
from Piano Sonata in A, K. 331
Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Bass and Harris
ABRSM

More details
4 Schumann The Happy Farmer
No. 18 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 J. Strauss II
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Emperor Waltz
Op. 437
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
6 Trad. North American
arr. Waterfield and Beach
Simple Gifts
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 Mean Street Chase
No. 20 from Viola Time Runners, arr. Blackwell
OUP

More details

Piano accomp. published separately as Viola Time Runners Piano Accompaniment, arr. Blackwell
OUP
2 Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge The Ceilidh
No. 20 from Fast Forward for Viola
No. 20 from Katherine Colledge and Hugh Colledge: Fast Forward for Viola
Boosey & Hawkes

More details
3 Offenbach
arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Galop infernal
(observing 1st repeat)
No. 13 from First Repertoire for Viola, Book 2, arr. Wilkinson and Hart
Faber

More details
4 Stravinsky
arr. Lamb and Meredith
Shrove-Tide Fair Themes
from Petrushka
More Time Pieces for Viola, Vol. 1, arr. Lamb and Meredith
ABRSM

More details
5 Trad. American
arr. Waterfield and Beach
Old Joe Clark
O Shenandoah! for Viola, arr. Waterfield and Beach
Faber

More details
6 Trad. Scottish
arr. Huws Jones
Mrs McLeod’s Reel
(viola melody)
The Fiddler Playalong Viola Collection, arr. Huws Jones
Boosey & Hawkes

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 each grade. In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Accompaniment: A live piano accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works. Candidates must provide their own accompanist, who may remain in the exam room only while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may act as accompanist (examiners will not). If necessary, the accompanist may simplify any part of the piano accompaniment, provided the result is musically satisfactory.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable).

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realization of ornaments etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these 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 whose full musical effect is heavily reliant on vibrato tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies otherwise. Lengthy orchestral tutti sections should be cut.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional 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. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exists, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may apply to bring a page-turner to the exam. The request must be made to the Syllabus Department no later than the closing date for entry, and details of the piece, edition and nature of the difficulty should be given. If permission is granted, a confirmation letter will be issued which must be taken to the exam as verification. Examiners are unable to help with page-turning. In a Grade 8 exam, a candidate’s accompanist is permitted to bring a page-turner to assist with page-turns in the piano part (prior permission is not required).

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorized 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 received 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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