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Bowed Strings

About Bowed Strings

We offer a range of assessments for violin, viola, cello and double bass players.

Face-to-face Practical Grades and digital Performance Grades are available from Initial Grade to Grade 8. 

The Prep Test is a fun first assessment with no pass or fail and Music Medals (UK only) are teacher-led assessments for the early stages of learning. 

For advanced players  we offer ARSM, LRSM and FRSM diplomas in Music Performance. 

Scroll down to find out more about Practical Grades and Performance Grades or click through for more information on the Prep Test, Music Medals and diplomas.

two children play double bass'


What's new
New Practical and Performance Grade syllabuses from 2024

The Bowed Strings syllabuses from 2024 feature refreshed repertoire lists for Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass. You'll find a wide range of composers and a greater choice of music than ever before.  

There are no changes to the scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural tests in the Practical Grade syllabus.  

You can use the new syllabuses in exams from 1 January 2024 onwards. 

There is also a one-year overlap period, ending on 31 December 2024. During the overlap period you can choose your three set pieces from the previous Bowed Strings syllabus. Find out more about the overlap period.  

New books and resources

We have a range of books, recordings and digital sheet music to support teachers and learners preparing for Bowed Strings exams from 2024. See below for more details.

violin boy
Initial Grade Exam Packs
  • Available for Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass 
  • A single book containing exam pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and access to recordings and accompaniment tracks through a unique download code.  
Violin Exam Pieces and Cello Exam Pieces
  • Exciting repertoire, from new commissions to core classics and familiar tunes. 
  • Violin Exam Pieces from 2024 (Grades 1 to 8) and Cello Exam Pieces from 2024 (Grades 1 to 5) with nine pieces per grade 
  • Available in three formats: part only (Grade 1 to 5); part and piano accompaniment; part, piano accompaniment and audio 
  • The audio edition includes a unique download code to access recordings of all nine pieces, plus accompaniment tracks to support practice or use in Performance Grade exams.  
Digital sheet music downloads
  • A selection from the Violin Exam Pieces and Cello Exam Pieces books, as well as some Cello and Double Bass repertoire
Audio recording downloads

Recordings of all pieces from Violin Exam Pieces, Cello Exam Pieces and Initial Grade Exam Packs, available as individual downloads (full performance track and backing track). 

Audio recordings via apps

Audio recordings of Violin Exam Pieces from 2024 (Grades Initial to 8) and Cello Exam Pieces from 2024 (Grades Initial to 5) are available in our Violin Practice Partner and Cello Practice Partner apps as in-app purchases. 

Bowed Strings – Practical Grades

Practical Grades are face-to-face exams that focus on all-round musical knowledge and skills, including performance. In the exam you perform three pieces, play scales and arpeggios, and take sight-reading and aural tests.

Bowed string players can take Practical Grades at Initial Grade and Grades 1 to 8.


Download a PDF of the Bowed Strings Practical Grades Qualification Specification, which includes syllabuses for all instruments.

For 2020–2023 syllabuses, use the subject selector above to go to the relevant instrument page.

Bowed Strings – Performance Grades

Performance Grades are digital exams assessed from a video recording. They have a strong focus on performance, including communication, interpretation and delivery.  In the exam you perform a programme of four pieces.   

Bowed string players can take Performance Grades at Initial Grade and Grades 1 to 8. There are no booking periods or exam sessions so you can choose when to book, record and submit your exam.


Download PDFs of the Performance Grades Qualification Specification and the Bowed Strings syllabus.

Watch a performance

Joel, Ann Marie and Ezraella of Bexley Music play Siyahamba trio from Grade 1 Cello

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