Music Theory and ABRSM Exams

Theory Placement Exam

The theory placement exam is given during the summer when you come for your ADVANCE session. The theory faculty use the exam to determine which beginning theory class (Fundamentals of Music or Music Theory I) will provide the most appropriate placement. Click here for information about preparation for this exam.

If you have taken some music theory and wish to be placed directly into Music Theory I, the theory faculty recommend that you review the important topics from the tutorials at before taking the placement test.

Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Exams

Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music crestLipscomb University's School of Music was the first in the nation to require music majors to sit for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams, beginning with the freshman class of 2006-2007. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, established in 1880, is a system of exams that have been given throughout the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth for 125 years. More than 620,000 exams are now administered annually by a very select and highly trained group of examiners to students not only in the British Commonwealth, but also in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Spain, Malaysia, Korea, Mexico and Mainland China. The criteria to become an examiner are so rigid that only seven out of every 100 applicants who apply to be examiners are accepted. The judging criteria for these exams are so precise and consistent that they result in an international average mark of 117 year after year.

This system of exams was not introduced into the United States until 1992; there are currently a very limited number of testing sites available. In 1998, Carol McClure, artistic director of The Harp School in Dickson, began to use these exams to track the progress of her pre-college students. Students from across the region now participate with more than a dozen teachers bringing students from as far away as Indianapolis and Huntsville; the ABRSM now administers exams for seven to ten days in Nashville twice a year. An examiner comes from the United Kingdom to listen and adjudicate all of these exams.

Music students from Lipscomb sit for the performance exams at two different levels: before the end of their junior year, all students will sit for the Grade 8 exams in either their instrument or voice. Once a student passes the exam, he or she will take the Diploma exams before graduating. Students will sit for the Grade 5 exam in theory during their sophomore year. For more information about the examination process please visit the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music.

Any incoming freshman student who has already passed the Grade 8 Exam of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and wishes to major in music automatically qualifies for a music scholarship of $1000 per semester. Students do not have to audition to receive this scholarship, but merely present documentation that they have passed the Grade 8 Exam.