Tipping the scales in your favour - how to demonstrate your technique

Tipping the scales in your favour - how to demonstrate your technique

Picture of Jean McCreery

BY: Jean McCreery
04 August 2017

Your memory is enhanced by forgetting things first.

Wait, what?

We are all used to the idea that if you really want to remember something, you should repeat it often, and keep it fresh in your memory. However, Robert and Elizabeth Bjork, a husband and wife research team based in UCLA suggest this may not be the case.

According to their researchyou need to forget a new piece of information at some level before remembering it, in order to make that memory more robust over time.

The theory being that the more a new memory fades before you go looking for it, the more it’s subsequent “retrieval strength” improves.

This might explain why I struggle to remember which day to put out my bins each week…

When it comes to the Technical Work element of your Grade 1 music exam, will you be relying on your memory to demonstrate your Scales & Arepeggios? Or perhaps you’d prefer to go with Technical Exercises or Studies to play from music? The good news is that many Trinity graded music exams give you the choice, so you can play to your strengths.

If learning scales to memory seems like too arduous a task for you or your students, then this post will highlight the alternative options available to you. Where applicable I have also linked to supporting books available from the Trinity online shop.


All Brass Syllabus 
All candidates must learn the Lip Flexibility Exercise from memory. (See back of syllabus)

Then choose from either:
Scales & Arpeggios (from memory)


Technical Exercises (music may be used)

Grades 1-8 Scales & Arpeggios books available:

Treble Clef Bass Clef
French Horn Trombone




All Strings Syllabus 

Woman playing violin

All candidates must learn the Bowing Exercise from memory.

Then choose from either: Scales & Arpeggios (from memory)


Studies (music may be used)

Initial - Grade 8 Scales, Arpeggios & Studies books available:

Cello Double Bass
Viola Violin



All Woodwind & Jazz Woodwind Syllabus 

Choose either: 
Scales & Arpeggios (from memory)


1 each of the 3 pairs of Technical Exercises (music may be used)

Initial - Grade 8 Scales, Arpeggios & Studies books available:

Bassoon Clarinet
Flute Oboe
Recorder Saxophone





Classical Guitar 

All candidates must learn the Technical Exercise from memory.Man playing classical guitar 

Then choose from either: 
Scales & Arpeggios (from memory)


Studies (music may be used)

Guitar Initial - Grade 5 Scales, Arpeggios & Studies book available:


Drum Kit 

Prepare all three exercises from Pieces and Exercises for Drum Kit 2014–2019.


Orchestral & Tuned Percussion

Scales & Arpeggios (from memory)

Tuned Percussion Scales & Arpeggios book available. 


Choose either:Hands playing Harp strings
Scales & Arpeggios - from memory plus Technical Exercises using music


3 Studies (music may be used)

Harp Studies & Exercises book available.

Rock & Pop Exams
Good news for you Rock & Poppers!

The Technical Components of a Rock & Pop exam are incorporated within the 3rd song that you have chosen.

More marks are awarded in the exam for this 'technical focus' song. There are no additional Scales & Arpeggios or Technical Exercises to prepare.


Hopefully this helps demonstrate the flexibility open to you and your students with a Trinity graded music exam and shows you how you can focus on your strengths as a musician in your approach to the exam. 


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