Standards for Courses

Please use the grading systems below to find courses most suitable to you. The “A” – “D” system is devised by the Chamber Music Network, ACMP. The  descriptions of Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced levels is by LAURENCE PERKINS. Either system can be used: course titles include the standard in words and the ACMP standard is specified in the course details. But if you are still unsure then please get in touch and discuss with us.

ACMP Grading System

“D” Novice/Beginner
You play a repertoire chosen to be within your technical limitations. On a first reading, you usually aim to get through the music and end together without too many stops and starts in between.

“C” Fair
You are in the process of exploring the standard repertoire, perhaps avoiding those works that are currently too technically challenging. You concentrate on not making major mistakes while reading an unfamiliar part, though you are aware of what the others are doing. You often slow down a fast movement for technical reasons.

“B” Good
You are quite familiar with portions of the standard repertoire (perhaps pieces from certain periods or for certain instrumental/vocal combinations). You generally sound good and sight-reading is not a problem. You usually pay attention to blend, balance, dynamics, and basic phrasing on a first reading.

“A” Excellent
You have extensive experience with and a strong command of the standard repertoire, from many time periods and for a variety of ensembles that include your instrument or voice. If your partners make a mistake, you can often bring them back in without stopping. You are a superior sight-reader and you consistently sound good (both in tune and at tempo). You already aim for cohesive musical expressiveness with attention to fine nuance on a first reading.

“Pro” Professional Musician
You perform professionally.


Elementary standard players: Wind ABRSM grades 3-5 (Strings grades 2-4)
You need to be reasonably fluent and confident with fairly straightforward music in keys of up to three sharps or flats, and play reasonably well in tune with some dynamic contrast. In these sessions parts may be doubled in some pieces. Clarinets only require B flat instruments, horn parts will be in F.

Intermediate standard players: Wind ABRSM grades 6-8
Good fluency is needed in a range of music which will involve some technical challenges and may be in keys of up to five sharps or flats. Good tuning, tone production, dynamic range and articulation will be required. The music will normally be played one-to-a-part, unless there is a special reason to do otherwise. Clarinets normally only require B flat instruments. Horn players may be required to do basic transpositions.

Advanced standard players: Above ABRSM grade 8 / diploma standard
Fluency in all keys is essential, as many of the pieces in these courses are technically and musically demanding. As well as excellent diploma-standard tuning, tone production, extreme dynamics, and a wide range of articulation speeds and characters, players will also need to be able to cope with occasional rhythmic and counting complexities. These sessions will be one player to a part, unless otherwise specified for a particular musical reason. Clarinettists require B flat and A instruments, alternative instruments (e.g. piccolo, bass clarinet, etc.) may be required (please check for details), and horn players need to be proficient in all the normal transpositions.