There are four tests at this grade:
1A – Clapping in time and time recognition
Listen to a piece of music and begin clapping in time to the beat as soon as you can. Keep listening as you clap and give a louder clap on the 'strong' beats (strong beats feel more important than the other beats). The examiner will then ask you whether the music was in 2 time or 3 time.
Beat and pulse are interchangeable words that mean the same thing in music. The beat in a piece of music stays the same, usually for most of the piece. If you are asked to 'Clap in time with the music' this means that you clap the beat steadily. In this sort of test in an examination the music will not speed up or slow down.
How to tell the difference between 2 and 3 time
To identify 2 time and 3 time listen out for the 'strong' beats. If you can walk in time to a tune (Left Right, Left Right), with a strong beat on every other step, it is in 2 time. If you can do three actions to the tune (such as three hand claps) with a strong beat on every third clap, the music is in 3 time. A waltz is in 3 time – you could to dance to it but you could not walk in time to it unless you had three legs!
1B – Singing 3 phrases (echo singing)
You will hear a key chord and then a two-bar count-in, for example: 'One, two, One, two' or One, two, three, One, two, three'. You will then listen to and sing back three short sets of notes (phrases), one at a time, like an echo. You can sing any sound (such as 'Lah lah' of 'Dah dah') or you could hum or whistle if you prefer. Aim to keep in time with the pulse (beat) of the music as well as singing the right notes.
1C – Notice the different note
First you will hear the key chord and the tonic note, then a two-bar count-in, as before. The tonic is the 'home' note, such as C in a C major chord. The examiner will then play a short phrase, followed by that phrase again, but this time with one changed note (it will sound a bit like a wrong note being played). You have to say whether the different note happened at the beginning or the end of the phrase.
1D – Listen and notice musical details
You will listen to a short piece of music played on the piano. Afterwards you will be asked two questions about the way the piece was played.
The first question will be about loud and quiet playing. You may be asked how the playing of the piece changed (i.e. did it become louder or quieter), where in the piece the change between loud and quiet occurred, and whether the change was gradual or sudden.
The second question will be about smooth and detached playing, also called legato and staccato.
How to tell the difference between legato and staccato
Smooth playing, called legato, means that the music moves smoothly from one note to the next one, with no gaps in sound between them. Detached playing, called staccato, sounds less smooth because each note is allowed to stop before the next one is played. Staccato notes can sometimes sound quite 'spiky' and short but staccato music is not necessarily quick in pace – sometimes the notes can move quite slowly. Legato is like a row of terraced houses where they are all joined together in a row, whereas staccato is like detached houses, each in its own space and not joined to its neighbour.