Piano Improvisation Specimen Tests

Improvisation can develop creative musicianship skills that unlock a variety of musical styles and technical ability.

Improvisation as part of a piano exam

Improvisation is one of four options in the supporting tests section of our piano exams – along with sight reading, aural and musical knowledge. This section of the exam supports the development of broader musical skills by assessing candidates in two different supporting tests.

Candidates choose options as follows:

  • Initial to Grade 5: Candidates choose two supporting tests
  • Grades 6-8: All candidates are assessed in sight reading, and choose either aural or improvisation for their second supporting test

Our improvisation tests are designed to introduce teachers and candidates to improvisation gradually, creatively and with a range of supporting resources. This test assesses candidates’ ability to improvise fluently, coherently and creatively in response to a musical stimulus.

Candidates choose a stimulus from the following three options, indicating their choice of stimulus on the appointment form:

  • Stylistic
  • Motivic
  • Harmonic

Improvisation specimen tests

Stylistic stimulus

This option requires the candidate to improvise over a notated piano part played by the examiner. Click here to download an example of the test:

Specimen improvisation tests: Stylistic stimulus

Motivic stimulus

This option requires the candidate to improvise solo in response to a short melodic fragment. Click here to download an example of the test:

Specimen improvisation tests: Motivic Stimulus

Harmonic stimulus

This option requires the candidate to improvise solo in response to a chord sequence. Click here to download an example of the test:

Specimen improvisation tests: Harmonic Stimulus

Keep in touch

Make sure you don’t miss the latest news from Trinity College London. Sign up for email updates about your subject area.