The Assessment Process

Recognition of Achievement

The Assessment Experience

The Music Development Program includes two different types of assessment: practical (performance) and theoretical. Both create an opportunity to recognize achievement and receive meaningful feedback.

Practical (Performance) Assessments

  • A comprehensive evaluation of a student's current abilities on a chosen instrument, including voice
  • Designed to be a warm and welcoming experience, one-on-one with a professional, program-certified adjudicator
  • Include a report from the adjudicator providing a breakdown of the numerical grade and constructive written comments
  • Held twice a year, with all scheduling and location arrangements made by the Music Development Program

What Can My Student Expect in a Practical (Performance) Assessment?

Practical (performance) assessments evaluate the following areas of your student’s musical development:

  • Performance of three to five pieces of repertoire depending on level
  • Performance of one or two études that focus on an aspect of performance skill appropriate for the level
  • Performance of technical skills such as scales, chords, and arpeggios, which progress in difficulty from level to level in a manner consistent with the technical demands of the repertoire. An assessment includes a representative sampling from the published list of requirements.
  • An evaluation of musicianship skills, appropriate for the level, through aural identification of intervals, chord qualities, cadences, and ear-to-hand playbacks of rhythms and melodies. A demonstration of rhythmic reading and sight playing ability further supports music literacy.

Theory Assessments

  • Students complete a written assessment of their theoretical and/or historical knowledge in a classroom setting.
  • Theory assessments are held twice a year, with all scheduling and location arrangements made by the Music Development Program.

Certificates of Achievement

Certificates of Achievement are awarded to all students upon successful completion of an assessment.

The Comprehensive Achievement Certificate is awarded to students who have completed both the practical (performance) and theory assessments for a specific level, beginning in Level 5. No application is necessary for the Comprehensive Achievement Certificate.

Certificates of Excellence

These certificates are awarded to students in each assessment center and in each state who earn the highest marks for their practical (performance) assessment level. No application is necessary.


Submitting Students for Assessment

How do I submit students for assessment?

You can submit students for assessment by registering at

How do I know what level is appropriate for my student?

Students can enter the Music Development Program at any level and can move from level to level at their own pace. Students and teachers should consult the syllabus/program guide to determine the appropriate level.

  • Many students and teachers start with the repertoire selections. The wide range of selections in the Music Development Program repertoire lists make it easy to match each student to a level.
  • Review the scale, chord, and arpeggio patterns required at that level, noticing keys, tempos and formats. You may find that your student is ahead in some areas, but requires further development in others. Consider those elements that are already firmly in your student’s grasp and decide which ones need additional review.
  • Finally, look at the musicianship requirements.

What if my student’s repertoire level is higher than their technical and musicianship levels?

  • If your student’s abilities in the areas of technique, ear tests, or sight reading are behind his or her current repertoire level, we generally advise that you opt for a lower level.
  • At each level, there is a range of challenge in the repertoire lists, and a student has the option of substituting a piece from the next higher level for one assessment selection.
  • Planning your student's progress in this way allows them to focus on the higher levels of music making, the finesse of their performance, and the pleasure of accomplishment.
  • Your student will enjoy a high level of performance success while also securing necessary musicianship skills that will provide them with a stronger foundation.

Who will assess my students?

  • The Music Development Program is adjudicated by a professional body of distinguished teachers and performers from across North America, each of whom is a specialist in one or more areas represented in the program.
  • Adjudicators undergo a competitive admissions process and must meet a minimum qualifying standard before being accepted as apprentice adjudicators.
  • Apprentices complete an intensive series of lectures, demonstrations, and a practicum, coupled with a full year of observation in the field before promotion to full adjudicator.
  • All adjudicators engage in yearly professional development and are subject to annual performance reviews.

Students can enter the Music Development Program at any level, and can move from level to level at their own pace.