Preparation For AMEB Diploma Exams

Notes based on a workshop presented by Federal Examiner David Lockett at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Saturday 19 March 2005.


Programs should be:

  • Well balanced
  • Show a variety of technical skills
  • Cover a variety of musical emphases

Be sure to check timing requirements.

In addition, the program should take account of the candidate’s readiness in terms of:

  • Physical development
  • Level of technical achievement
  • Ability to connect with the emotional content of the music


Performances are expected to demonstrate:

  • Musicality
  • Maturity
  • Conviction
  • Confidence

Performance objectives

The performance should demonstrate:

  • A concept of the works as a whole
  • An understanding of structure
  • An understanding of musical content
  • An awareness of the elements that give the work unity or character
  • Maintenance of unity in multi-movement works
  • Familiarity with accompaniment
  • An integrated sense of ensemble
  • Technical mastery
  • Command of special instrumental effects
  • Mastery of stylistic elements
  • Understanding of performance conventions
  • Ability to differentiate between styles
  • Expressive and coherent performance
  • Memory (according to syllabus requirements)


  • Be professional
  • Show attention to posture and appearance
  • Demonstrate a sense of normal performance conventions

General Knowledge

The following is required:

  • Detailed knowledge of structure
  • Detailed knowledge of keys and modulations
  • Knowledge of period and stylistic characteristics
  • Familiarity with repertoire by represented composers
  • Knowledge of historical development of the instrument


Associate: “…test of executive ability” Licentiate: “A concert standard of performance will be demanded” Fellowship: ”…recognises the achievement of an exceptionally high performance standard”

  • Associate and Licentiate share the same objectives
  • The difference lies largely in the demands of the repertoire
  • The repertoire sets the standards – each work has its own technical and musical requirements which need to be met
  • Choose repertoire carefully
  • Grading descriptors are listed in the Manual of Syllabuses for each award

Common reasons for lack of success

  • Lack of expressive involvement or projection
  • Preoccupation with technical issues at the expense of musical insight and communication
  • Inadequate or inconsistent technical mastery (serious lapses in accuracy, clarity, control, concentration etc)
  • Lack of variety in style, dynamics etc
  • Lack of rhythmic control resulting in arbitrary tempo changes and incoherent pulse
  • Consistent problems with tonal production and quality

Licentiate requires a concert standard of performance

Perfection is not expected but the following are assumed:

  • Notational accuracy (notes, rhythm, dynamics)
  • A level of technical security that allows the expressive character of the music to be realised
  • Effective overall continuity
  • An expressive view of each work that goes well beyond mere technical survival
  • Variety in dynamics, colour and expressive approach
  • The ability to feel and communicate musical character and emotion
  • The Fellowship (FMusA) is the most prestigious of the AMEB’s awards

It requires:

  • An exceptionally high performance standard
  • The ability to engage an audience and to maintain interest over the entire program Candidates should:
  • Consider the physical demands of presenting the program
  • Carefully plan the sequence of works to ensure easy stylistic and technical transitions
  • Ensure that associate artists are of the required quality


  • Start early
  • Choose an excellent accompanist
  • Learn slowly and thoroughly in the early stages
  • Investigate the structure and context of the works as you are learning them
  • Have notes and memory secure weeks or even months before the performance
  • Listen to music – not just the works you are playing
  • Record yourself
  • Arrange trial performances to family and friends
  • Develop a strong concept of what you want the music to say – don’t focus on mere technical survival
  • As the performance approaches, get plenty of rest and exercise – keep your life balanced
  • Avoid last minute practice. All the work has been done – trust yourself
  • Arrive at the venue in plenty of time


  • Engage a professional accompanist in plenty of time (piano parts can be difficult!)
  • Study the piano score as you learn the work
  • Allow plenty of time for rehearsal
  • You need to fully understand how the piano part relates to your own
  • The right choice of pianist can make a great deal of difference to your level of confidence and to the overall impression made by your performance
  • Your choice of accompanist and the way you relate to them says something about your own artistic awareness

A good accompanist will be:

  • An excellent pianist
  • A sensitive and flexible musician
  • Able to take musical initiative and to respond according to the expressive demands of the music
  • A supportive partner
  • Willing and available to rehearse

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