An update from our Chief Executive
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on all our lives, the sheer imagination of musicians as they explore different ways of making music - alone, with others, and through their rapidly-adapted teaching - is a daily source of inspiration for me.
Whether it’s the weekly Friday Night Club from the RSNO, featuring exclusive, previously unseen performances, or Jess Gillam’s Virtual Scratch Orchestra, it’s amazing to see how musicians and musical organisations are pushing back boundaries and finding new ways to communicate their art and connect with their audiences.
Some of these inspiring ideas are featured on Play On, just one of the ways in which ABRSM is working to keep you connected and itself doing things differently in these extraordinary times.
We’re working hard in other ways too. The disappointment experienced by ABRSM candidates whose exams were cancelled in recent weeks has made our work to develop remote assessments and online measures of musical progress even more urgent than it was before.
Since the pandemic emerged we’ve diverted resources from other projects and stepped up our efforts to develop effective alternatives for teachers and learners, finding the best way in which ABRSM can continue to support musical progress in the utterly changed landscape in which we find ourselves.
Working within the framework of recently issued guidance from our regulators, we are fast developing ways to adapt our existing assessments for these exceptional circumstances so we can again offer exams to learners around the world.
Some of this is about finding online solutions, some of it is about looking differently at certain elements of our practical exams, such as accompaniment and supporting tests. These complex issues require thought and careful planning if we are to continue to offer high quality assessments that meet the high standards you rightly expect from ABRSM.
You have told us that you need robust, comprehensive digital solutions that allow us to award a fully recognised qualification. The challenge for us is to use our own creativity to develop a response that is timely and able to support musical progression during this extraordinary era, while avoiding over simplification and hasty promises. Our aim is to develop remote assessments that are fit for purpose and that give you what you want.
Striking this balance is one of our greatest priorities and we are working at pace to bring you the best solution. We seek to meet the immediate needs of learners looking to progress to further or higher education later this year. At the same time, we are looking beyond the current pandemic to offer new online and live assessments to complement our existing ones.
I know the whole ABRSM team is genuinely excited about the opportunities that online assessment can, when delivered effectively, unlock for teachers and learners. We will tell you more about our plans as soon as we can. In the meantime, I hope music will give you moments of relaxation, sustenance, comfort and enjoyment in these uncertain times. If you haven’t explored Play On yet, do take a look and see what resources are there to help you.
Right now, more than ever, we would love to share your musical journeys, hear about what is inspiring you and find ways to celebrate the thing we all value so much - music.
Chief Executive, ABRSM