There are four tests at this grade:

3A – 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). You will then say whether the music was in 2 time or 3 time or 4 time.

How to tell the difference between 2, 3 and 4 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.

4 time goes in units of four beats, so you can count 1 2 3 4 and feel a strong beat each time you say 'One'. 4 time sounds quite a lot like 2 time, so it can be quite difficult to tell the difference unless you have listened to lots of examples.

3B – 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. The phrases are a little more challenging to remember than the Grades 1 and 2 tests.

3C – 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. Then the examiner will play a short phrase, followed by that phrase again, but this time with one difference. The difference might be in the rhythm, or one note might have been altered to a different pitch – there will only be one change. You have to notice where the change happened and say whether it was rhythm or pitch. Rhythm and pitch are the two aspects of music that change often and allow us to recognize a particular tune or song.

3D – Listen and notice musical details

You will listen to a short piece played on the piano, then you will answer two questions about the way a piece is played. One question will be about whether the music is in a major key or a minor key. The other question will be about one of three things:

  • Loud or quiet playing.
  • Smooth and detached playing.
  • Changes in the speed (tempo) of the music.

How to tell the difference between major and minor keys

The notes in a piece are usually chosen from a group of seven different notes that can be played one after the other in what is called a scale, for example, the scale of C major contains C D E F G A B.

The notes in a minor scale are slightly different. The significant difference is that the third degree (note) of the scale is made slightly lower. In this case, to produce C minor, the E is made into E flat.

The effect is that a major key often sounds brighter and more cheerful, but major key pieces can still be slow and poignant. Minor key pieces often sound more gloomy and sad, but they can still be lively. The difference between major and minor is, then, to do with the notes that are used and not to do with the speed of the piece or how loud or quiet it is.

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