Every so often teachers and examiners will send us comments on how our syllabuses work and what amendments we might consider to make them better. We take these suggestions seriously. Over the last few months, we’ve been working particularly on our Grade and Musical Theatre syllabuses. The latter is still in progress but we just wanted to give teachers a little advance notice of some of the significant changes we’ve made in the Grade syllabus.
In terms of practical requirements: in Grade 2, the illustration will now be the focus of a more formal one-minute presentation on the poem; we’ve moved the lyric from Grade 6 to Grade 8 (the Grade 6 poem is now to be a short poem by an Irish poet); we’ve swapped the prepared and unprepared improvisations, the former coming in Grade 7, with the latter in Grade 8; the mime in Grade 9 is now either character or abstract; the poem in Grade 11 is to be a sonnet only; and in Grade 12, the poem is to be written after 1960 and the prose is to be by a non-Irish author (Grade 9 prose is by an Irish author). In terms of the drama selections, in Grade 8 it’s by an Irish author and in Grade 11 it’s to be written before 1800.
The theory requirements have been made more specific while retaining their relevance to the pieces being performed. By the end of Grade 10, candidates will have covered all aspects of vocal modulation. We’ve brought back stage directions in Grade 5; we think it’s important that Grade 3 candidates should understand the difference between a vowel and a consonant; and that pitch, rate and pace are addressed explicitly in other grades. We still won’t require young people to learn about things that they don’t need to know. Triphthongs anyone? No thanks.