Prepping for a Public Examination – By Dr Ern Knoop

The A.G.M.E. Examiner’s role may be summarised as follows:-


  1. To provide a fair mark.
  2. To encourage but not to give false hope.
  3. To provide a comprehensive report with guidelines for both the teacher and student.
  4. To be cheerful and encouraging during the examination.
  5. To be objective using skill and knowledge with an open mind.
  6. To be able to make fair, on the spot decisions especially with difficult performances.
  7. To be able to discern a correct grade for the candidate. ABC or D. or N.G.S.
  8. To discern obvious musicality.
  9. To recognise problem areas especially when the teacher needs advice.
  10. To uphold the standards of the A.G.M.S.


Of course nothing could be further from the truth than that examiners set out

to fail rather than pass a candidate to the contrary! Examiners are experienced teachers of long standing (how else could they have been chosen) and are carefully selected……..The fact that examiners themselves are teachers who present pupils for similar grades, with a proportion of “problem” students, like any other teacher, seems at times to escape attention. Believe me examiners are only too happy to pass the student. (I) Hesse P. 22.


What qualifications should be demanded in an examiner?


To be chosen to train as an examiner the person concerned should have the following attributes:-


  1. Qualifications.
  2. A long-standing successful teaching record.
  3. Be able to relate well to others.


  1. The qualification set out by the A.G.M.E. is “Licentiate”. I presume another qualification eg. “Timus A coupled with an Associate diploma would be Satisfactory as this is a very difficult examination and much study is involved; from a teaching point of view, it is very valuable. There are other higher qualifications which would also be suitable eg. “Bachelor of Music”. The examiner must have some suitable qualifications that would be respected by the organisation and the public.
  2. It is of great importance that an examiner is an experienced teacher. It is very difficult to understand what should or could be expected of children of all different ages or the possibilities of performance in each grade if one has not actually taught each different level. Teaching makes one realise where the difficulties lie. Host musicians have forgotten what it was like when they started learning. If the examiner has teaching experience he/she will have a more realistic view of standards.
  3. It is important the examiner relates well to other teachers and students, can keep calm under all circumstances, be friendly and helpful at all times and are able to use a diplomatic approach when necessary.


An examiner should have a good combination of the above 3 points. Above all he/she should be a musician; one with an inner feeling for music and a great love of music and a desire to encourage musical training in young people. Qualifications don’t always mean all of these things, experience is the best teacher! An examiner also needs to be reliable, punctual and able to organise himself/herself to work alone. He/she needs to be confident, perceptive and encouraging in all circumstances.

Only those dedicated to the cause of music can last as examiners. Who else would take on its exhausting labour on top of teaching and other professional commitments.  Hesse. P. 25.

In addition to the above, all Examiners must serve a minimum of 12 months training under the supervised guidance and are then awarded the Examiners certificate. The Examiner Certificate is 1-year training and the Associate Examiners Diploma is 2 years with the Licentiate Examiners Diploma requires 3 years of training.



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