MGR Music survey results on Graded Music Exams

As an active community of music teachers, we regularly hold surveys on different aspects of teaching music as a profession. In August 2018 we held a survey asking music teachers to share their thoughts on many aspects of graded music exams. We received 70 responses from music teachers.

There were some very interesting results! So, what do music teachers really think of graded exams?

Overall, the music teachers we surveyed thought it was a positive experience for students. With 68% agreeing that “it is good musically for students to learn grades” and 80% agreeing that “students who take exams have a real sense of achievement”. Indeed, 67% of music teachers surveyed “recommend to some of [their] students to take graded exams”. Perhaps not too much of a surprise there.

What was more of a surprise, however, was a long-standing myth that music teachers are “loyal” to a particular exam board was not evident in the survey. Instead, the data suggests that the majority of music teachers would consider changing exam boards if their requirements were better met by another exam board.

Specifically, a music teacher’s experience of an exam board’s customer service and the quality of a student’s exam experience - for example, by taking an exam in a suitable building with fit-for purpose equipment - significantly shape a teacher’s view of the exam board that they use.

Exam boards should take note. After all, 66% of the surveyed teachers confirmed that they had “entered a student into an exam during the last 12 months”. Based on these results, the average number of students private music teachers currently take through exams is seven. The average graded exam book is around £12.00 and the average graded exam itself around £70.00, ensuring that a private music teacher remains with an exam board (or encouraging them to switch to an exam board that better meets their requirements) can significantly increase revenue for the exam board in question.

This should be a real motivator for exam boards to improve the customer service experience of private music teachers, as well as the exam day experience for students. It is exciting to think this will hopefully ensure that gone are the days of graded music exams being held in poor quality buildings or for students to perform on sub-par equipment. Indeed, knowing that the majority of music teachers will switch exam boards is fantastic news for the continued development and improvements of music grades for both students and music teachers.

A special thanks as well to Danny Webber, who runs Guitar Lessons Bristol, who helped me put together and carry out this survey.

MGR Music Founder, Matthew Rusk.

*These results are based on a survey from ISM corporate member, MGR Music, the ISM did not conduct this survey.

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