Latest news

ABRSM brings new music to string players

4 years ago

New Bowed Strings syllabus 2020–2023

ABRSM has today (6 June) released their new Bowed Strings syllabus for Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass, for use in exams from 1 January 2020. ABRSM has worked with a range of string specialists from across the world of music education to create a vibrant syllabus that will appeal to the musical imagination and curiosity of all string players, wherever they are on their journey. ‘For this syllabus, we have worked with the widest range of consultants yet, including specialists in beginners, as well as those working at the higher levels. Diversity of experience and opinion leads to a diverse and rich syllabus, which we are excited to now be sharing with you.’ Philippa Bunting, ABRSM Learning and Qualifications Director

Musical highlights

The syllabus contains new commissions, first publications and familiar favourites for string players to learn and perform in their exams. Music that will receive its first ever publication in ABRSM’s exam books, includes:

  • Violin, Grade 3 - Rachel Stott, Shadow Wizard
    A new commission written specially for Grade 3. This evocative piece is inspired by a children’s fantasy novel in the style of Harry Potter.
  • Violin, Grade 8 – Maria Kaneko Millar, Sakura
    A new arrangement. A performance of this piece was found by one of ABRSM’s consultants on YouTube. ABRSM approached the performer, Maria, and worked with her to transcribe the piece for Grade 8.
  • Cello, Grade 5 - Marie Dare, Echoes
    A first-time publication and recording. The Scottish Music Centre, who hold the composer’s archive, provided ABRSM with handwritten manuscripts and this piece made it onto the Grade 5 syllabus.

Supporting resources

To accompany the syllabus, ABRSM has published repertoire books for Violin at Grades 1–8 and, for the first time, Cello at Grades 1–5, bringing together an attractive selection of pieces from across the three lists in one easy-to-use volume for each grade.

Inspiring beginners

A strong focus for ABRSM is to support beginners. With the launch of the new Bowed Strings syllabus, ABRSM have also introduced Initial Grade – a pre-Grade 1 assessment designed to help beginners measure their progress and celebrate their achievements. Initial Grade provides a route to Grade 1 and is a different exam experience from ABRSM’s Prep Test. Whereas the Prep Test provides young learners with a relaxed introductory exam experience, where the candidate doesn’t pass or fail but receives encouraging feedback and a certificate on the day, Initial Grade offers a formal assessment opportunity. This formal assessment provides helpful feedback via a mark form, a mark and a certificate for successful candidates. For more information about the Bowed Strings syllabus and supporting materials, visit

Back to listing

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our website, you are agreeing to our cookie policy and consent to our use of cookies. Find out more.