The following review is reprinted with permission from the Spring 2002 edition of the Recorder Magazine:

Descant Recorder Prep Test, ABRSM Publishing, ISBN 1 86096 237 8, 2.50

As a recorder teacher I am sure many of you reading this will sympathise with me when I say that the review of the Associated Board's Preparatory Test for descant recorder is both welcome and long overdue. The previous test has been in place since its inception several years ago and, to me, held little appeal for my pupils. However, the new booklet is bright, contains many illustrations, a fun page and some highly appropriate pieces; even the aural requirement is described as "Listening Games".

Part 1 of the test requires the pupil to play three short tunes ("Relaxing", "Jumping" and "Stretching") from memory. Each one is preceded by a short commentary providing both the teacher and pupil with information concerning the performance of each tune; legato, staccato and wide leaps repectively.

Part 2 presents a selection of four pieces from which the candidate must play one. The first two are by Anthony Purnell; "Round the Totem Pole", makes much of the movement from E to G and archetypal rhythms associated with American Indian style tunes, and "The Cuckoo and the Swan", which juxtaposes staccato falling 3rds with elegant legato phrases. The other pieces are by Alan Haughton (both have a piano accompaniment which would be played by the examiner); "March of the Kings" is a stately piece featuring a mixture of rhythms/timings, articulations and dynamics to good effect, and "Mystical Bird" which is both calmer and more gentle.

Part 3 is Own Choice Piece, with piano accompaniment (again to be played by the examiner). This is followed by the Listening Games, Part 4, which is similar to those used at Grade 1 and require the candidate to recognise musical pulse, clap rhythmic echoes, sing pitches in free time, and identify certain features of a piece. This certainly seems to be a very encouraging step forwards, and I am sure a great many more recorder teachers will be preparing pupils for the Preparatory Test than ever before.

Adam J. Dopaldik

The Recorder Magazine Spring 2002

Associated Board Syllabus for Preparatory Test


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