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Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) Piano Exams Information

What is AMEB?

The Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) is the most prestigious and well-recognised examination system in Australia. With a tradition of excellence stretching back over a century, the AMEB is the only examination body with formal links to major Australian universities. It is internationally recognised and is one of the most rigorous and well-regarded music examination systems in the world. AMEB exams challenge students not only to perform their piano repertoire, but also demonstrate other important skills like sight reading, technical prowess, aural recognition and general knowledge.

Playing Piano Close-up Shot

Your AMEB Piano Exam will include

Technical work presented from memory. There is an AMEB technical workbook for all scales and technical exercises required for each piano grade.
Each grade has several required pieces from the AMEB Piano Series Grade Books. There are also pieces from extra lists.

A Piano Comprehensive exam will require to choose pieces form different set lists:

List A - Baroque Music
List B - Classical Music
List C - Romantic Music
List D - Contemporary Music

Note: For Piano for Leisure exams, you are not restricted to choosing pieces in set lists. This means you have more flexibility in your choice.

It is not requested, but highly encouraged and gives you bonus points to perform your pieces from memory.
Each grade has different Ear Tests that you need to prepare for.

Your examiner will play an example on the piano twice, and you are required to respond by singing or clapping back what the examiner played.
The examiner will put an unfamiliar short piece of music in front of you and you have to play it! You will be given a minute to study the piece with your eyes.
You will be required to answer a few specific questions about the pieces you play. The questions may include information about the composer, Italian musical terms, musical symbols, the key, the structure, the period of music your piece is from and more.

Common Questions:

This depends in which Australian state you sit your exam. There are normally several sessions per year to choose from. The dates are available from AMEB.
You are advised not to do repeats, but any “da capo” signs must be followed
You are not allowed to have any pencil marks on your music in your exam. All pencil marks should be removed before the exam, however you are allowed pencil marks indicating fingering (little numbers above the notes).
Metronome marks are an approximate guide only.
It is your responsibility to ensure you can play through your pieces smoothly. Make sure you are comfortable turning pages during your performances (or choose to perform from memory). You can use a photocopied page to assist with page-turning.
Each piano grade has a different Extra List requirement. You need to prepare one or two extra list pieces depending on your grade. This is for the examiner to see that you've been learning more than just the same 3 or 4 pieces from your AMEB book.
At least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. The last thing you want on your exam day is to run late. If you don't turn up to your exam on time, you will miss your allocated exam spot, and will need to re-apply for the next round of exams!
As a rough guide, the exam will go in this order:
  1. Scales and Technical Work
  2. Pieces
  3. General Knowledge
  4. Sight Reading
  5. Ear Tests
Be prepared that your examiner may do these in a different order.
Piano exams are open to anyone regardless of age! There are no age limits for certain grades.
There is no rule stating that you have to complete one exam before you move onto the next grade level. It is recommended following the grades in order.

Exams are excellent tools for providing motivation, and a sense of achievement. They help ensure a well-rounded musical education.

Even if you want to learn to play the piano for enjoyment, the lighter "piano for leisure" exams are still a good idea.

The Piano for Leisure syllabus is designed for people who prefer a less rigorous approach to learning the piano. The musical pieces are not any easier, but there are fewer scales and less technical work. Students also get to choose between either Sight Reading or Ear Tests for this exam. Piano for Leisure exams may suit piano students who prefer to work under less pressure but have a goal of achieving graded levels (and certificates).
You always have the option of swapping from one syllabus to another.
While theory exams are not "compulsory" until the Grade 6, it's a good idea to start theory exams earlier, so you are not cramming for the required theory grade at the last minute.
This depends on many factors, including your level, age, ability, commitment, availability, etc. On average, it takes about 1 year to prepare for each piano grade.
Refer to AMEB website as prices are determined by the grade.