Introducing Digital Syllabuses

MTB syllabuses are available online and are reviewed and updated on an annual basis in September each year.

To see our September 2023 review please click here.

Syllabuses may not necessarily change following an annual review. However, we are working hard to add new exciting content for teachers and learners such as digital pieces, accompaniments and books, and this additional content may be added throughout the year as it becomes available.  We may also make occasional minor revisions based on centre and learner feedback.  If revisions are made during the year we will inform centres via our monthly newsletter and will list them below on this page.  We advise all centres to sign up to our newsletter, you can sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Please note that because we allow candidates the option to present Free Choice repertoire, pieces on the recital list of any previous syllabuses (unless specifically re-graded) are available to use indefinitely and do not require approval for use in our exams.

Syllabus Updates:

Syllabus updates and revisions are mainly made during the annual review in September each year.  However, as mentioned changes may also be made at any point during the year on occasion and when required, which will be noted at the bottom of this page and on the monthly newsletter.  Syllabus changes are classified into three types:

  • Addition: These changes do not impact centres or learners and may include, for example, adding new pieces, accompaniments or books to expand the available options. These changes require no transition period. Please note that the removal of any pieces from lists does not impact learners as these pieces may continue to be used as ‘Free Choice’ options.
  • Revision: These changes are minor and include corrections and tweaks based on centre feedback and will not require a significant change to the content learners need to prepare for their exam.  These changes are implemented immediately to an existing syllabus but there is a 3 month transition window from notification of the change in which the previous version can be used.
  • Update: This includes annual updates and these are a more significant change to the syllabus which will impact the content learners need to prepare for their exam.  These changes have a 6 month transition period in which the previous syllabus content can be used for an exam.  The previous syllabus following an update will be available to view on the website.

If a learner or centre requires a longer transition period they will need to apply for a reasonable adjustment with us by contacting

To learn more about the most recent syllabus update please click here.

Syllabus Structure:

Our Practical syllabuses have a unified marking structure for all Classical instruments with all syllabuses containing three sections:

  • Recital Section (60 marks):  This section contains three pieces each worth 20 marks.
  • Technical Section (25 marks):  This section includes technical exercises & scales from memory.  Some instruments have an ‘option 2’ consisting of technical exercises and ‘alternative to scales from memory’ exercises.
  • Musicianship Section (15 marks): This section includes two options, Reading skills and Listening Skills or Reading Skills and a Duet.

Please note that our contemporary syllabuses for Guitar, Drums & Singing have a different structure with 4 pieces and technical exercises and all pre-grades have 3 pieces and technical exercises.

There is also the option to use MTB’s Performance Grades as an alternative to our Practical Grades.  These comprise of a recital of 4-5 pieces with a target duration.

Syllabus Guidelines:
  • Repeats are optional for MTB Exams, however, they are encouraged as they can offer opportunities to display greater dynamic and expressive variation.
  • All DC and DS marks should be observed (unless the syllabus specifies otherwise)
  • For the recital section of the exam, the candidate should introduce each piece they are about to perform by stating its title..
  • The teacher may help the candidate tune up before the exam begins. This should be done before starting the recording. If tuning needs to be altered during the exam the recording should continue whilst this happens.
  • The composer’s dynamics, phrasing etc should be observed in the pieces presented for the recital section of the exam.
  • Where a piece contains no, or only limited, dynamic and expressive markings, the candidate is encouraged to include their own additional dynamic or expressive elements.
  • Any editorial markings may be altered to allow for a personal interpretation. .
  • The teacher is encouraged to speak to the candidate during the exam to put them at ease or to help them understand what is being requested.
  • The recording should not be turned off at any point during the exam until all elements of the assessment have been completed.
  • Candidates are encouraged to practise the listening skills (i.e. sung aural tests or duet) and reading skills tests as part of their preparation prior to taking the examination (where relevant).
  • For the duet option (if selected), the other part (i.e. not the candidate) may be performed on any instrument from the same family (wind/brass/strings etc) and octave transpositions made as necessary. It may also be played by the teacher, another pupil or any suitable player. A recording can be used for the teacher part during the exam.
  • Where a candidate presents Free Choice repertoire for the recital section of the exam, these must be of the correct grade standard. If such pieces fall below the required grade standard, examiners may reflect this in their marking.
  • The tempi given for the technical section exercises (scales from memory/technical exercises etc.) are minimum speed requirements.

If you require clarification of any other issues please contact us at or via our contact page.

Jazz Improvisation

Candidates wishing to submit pieces containing Jazz improvisation may do so as part of the free choice recital section of an MTB exam. Exams containing 2 or more pieces with Jazz improvisation will be marked by a Jazz specialist who will normally specialise in that section of instruments (i.e. Wind, Brass etc).

Syllabus Update Log:

Here we list the updates made to any of our syllabuses outside of the standard annual review.

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