The Music Certificate Program has long been an important part of the Preparatory’s music curriculum. It was developed to provide incentives for students who are motivated, practice regularly, and who have an interest in performing and acquiring a comprehensive music education. Through the program’s two core components—individual instruction (private lessons) and music theory classes—students develop skills that improve not only their playing, but also their ability to listen and communicate music effectively.
Beyond individual instruction and theory classes, students in the Certificate Program must also participate in performance exams. Given at the conclusion of each semester, performance exams—sometimes called “juries”—test the technique and repertoire studied in private lessons.
There is no enrollment form or fee for the Preparatory’s Music Certificate Program. Instead, students are enrolled automatically the first time their teacher signs them up to take an exam. Parents should discuss their interest in having their child participate in the Music Certificate Program with the student’s instructor. Beyond that initial discussion, it is advisable that parents trust the teacher to make decisions about repertoire and the best time for the student to take the exam.
Is the Music Certificate Program Right for my Child?
Here are some general guidelines to help determine if a student should participate in the program:
- Students who practice diligently and find music to be an important component of their daily lives will probably enjoy participating in this program.
- Students who benefit from the added motivation of receiving an award or printed recognition of their accomplishments tend to flourish in this program.
- Students who enjoy setting and reaching goals enjoy the Music Certificate Program.
- Students who are interested in pursuing music in college should strongly consider participation in this program.
Students who usually do not thrive in the program can be described as follows:
- Students who need to set their own pace.
- Students who find performing for an exam committee too stressful.
- Students who tend to be overly critical of themselves.
- Students who are so busy with other activities and school work that music practice does not occur almost daily.
- Students who are changing technique or moving from one instructor to another need to gain security in their new situation before considering the Music Certificate Program.
There are three levels in the Music Certificate Program: Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced/Pre-Conservatory. Within each level, there are as many as three sub-levels (depending on the instrument studied). Sub-levels exist to provide students with a gradual way of building to the culminating exam at each of the major levels. It is not required that students take every sub-level exam offered. However, in order to receive a certificate at each of the three culminating levels, the student must pass the culminating exam with a grade of 80% or higher and have completed the required theory classes.
More About Exams
Performance exams require students to prepare a combination of technical exercises and repertoire. Sight-reading is usually required as well (except for voice students). Teachers have copies of the requirements for each exam and will prepare students for what is expected well in advance.
For the exam itself, a jury of two to four faculty members will be present to listen and each will give a numerical score and comments for each element performed. The scores are then averaged to form a grade for each element and finally for the exam as a whole.
A minimum average of 80% must be achieved to receive a passing grade for each element of the exam. Every requirement on the exam must be passed before a grade for the entire exam is given.
The minimum standard for passing a performance exam is high because music is a discipline that progressively builds upon itself. It is not enough for students to simply learn the material, but instead, they must master it.
Music Theory Requirements
Music theory classes are designed to complement individual instruction by teaching concepts that are complimentary to those taught in the private lessons. Courses are organized in three subject areas for students at varying ages and ability levels.
Basic Musicianship 1-3 (Ages 8-12) – A musicianship class where the student expresses themself musically with their body as the primary instrument. Throughout the class, the aim is to improve coordination, control, balance, attention, flexibility, focus, spatial awareness and emotional knowledge. Musical concepts include rhythm, meter, ear-training, vocalizing and expression. Information about the purchase of the required textbook will be given during the first class meeting. This class is designed to occur over a three-year sequence.
Ear Training 1-3 (Ages 11 and up) – A class where emphasis is placed on the skills of reading and hearing music. Ear-training classes at all levels include melodic exercises sung and performed using solfége syllables and on instruments, keyboard skills, rhythmic training, melodic dictation and improvisation. Information about the purchase of the required textbook will be given during the first class meeting. This class is designed to occur over a three-year sequence.
“Written” Courses (Ages 14 and up) From introductory work in Music Theory Fundamentals to Advanced concepts in Harmony and Form and Analysis these classes begin with an introduction to the reading and writing of music and progress from basic to advance elements of harmony, counterpoint and score analysis.
Theory Requirements for Each Certificate Level
Elementary Certificate Requirements
Completion of any one course from any of our music theory offerings
Intermediate Certificate Requirements
Completion of any two courses with the highest level course being Musicianship 2, Ear-training 2 or Music Theory Fundamentals
Advanced/Pre-Conservatory Certificate Requirements
Completion of any 3 music theory courses with the highest level course being Ear-Training 3, Harmony or Form and Analysis.
What Does Receiving a Certificate Mean and When Does it Happen?
Receiving a Certificate is recognition for the time and effort students put into earning it. While it is not a diploma or degree, it is significant as the skills and discipline learned during exam preparation and theory classes stay with students long after they have left the Preparatory.
Each school year culminates with an Awards Ceremony in June to celebrate student accomplishments. Students who have successfully completed the requirements for one of the culminating certificate levels are invited to the ceremony where they receive their award from the Executive Director of the Preparatory and the Dean of the Peabody Institute.
“Mini” Certificates are awarded when students pass a sub-level performance exam. These awards are issued through the mail each summer for students who have completed a sub-level in either the winter or spring exams. No music theory classes are required for the Mini Certificate. Please note that Mini Certificates are not awarded for the culminating levels.