Our Grading System


Grade 1

Typical first year player

Difficulty: Very easy or “elementary.”
Time: 2/4, 3/4, 4/4.
Key: 2 keys on home side of circle of 5ths, plus maybe C (2-3 total.)
Tonality: Major & minor.
Rhythm: Whole, half, quarter notes.
Range: 5 - 8 notes.
Tessitura: same as range, minus “tricky” notes.
Dynamics: None.
Clef: Home clef only.
Length: Very short.


Grade 2

Typical second year player

Difficulty: Easy or “late elementary.”
Time: Same as Grade 1 - 2/4, 3/4, 4/4.
Key: 2 keys in home area plus C and 1 on “far” side (4 total).
Tonality: Major & minor.
Rhythm: Same as Grade 1, plus add eighths, dotted rhythms.
Range: Octave to 12th, depending on instrument.
Tessitura: Home octave.
Dynamics: p, f, mf.
Clef: Home clef only.
Length: Short.


Grade 3

Average middle school & later elementary player

Difficulty: Medium or “early intermediate.”
Time: Same as Grade 2 plus simple 6/8.
Key: 3 keys in home area plus C and 2 on “far” side (6 total).
Tonality: Major & minor.
Rhythm: Add easy cut time, simple 16th groupings and 16th flags on dotted eighths.
Range: Octave to 12th.
Tessitura: 10th, centers in home octave.
Dynamics: pp. p, mp, mf, f, ff.
Clef: Home clef only.
Length: Short to medium.


Grade 4

Younger high school & later middle school player.

Difficulty: Intermediate.
Time: Same as 3 but adds 3/8, 9/8.
Key: 4 keys in home area plus C and 3 on far side (8 total).
Tonality: Major & minor, some Dorian, Lydian.
Rhythm: Add 12/8, 4/2, & short simple 16th runs.
Range: 2 octaves.
Tessitura: Middle 12th.
Dynamics: pp thru ff plus fp.
Clef: Home clef only.
Length: Up to medium long, some multi-movement.


Grade 5

High school & early college level player.

Difficulty: Medium-difficult or “late intermediate” / “early advanced.”
Time: Adds 5/4, 7/4, 3/2, etc standard meters. Standard time changes.
Key: 5 keys in home area plus C and 4 on far side (10 total). Standard key changes.
Tonality: Major & minor, Dorian, Lydian, other standard modes.
Rhythm: Add grace notes, 16th note runs, some 32nds.
Range: 2.5 octaves.
Tessitura: Middle 2 octaves, tending towards home 12th.
Clef: Home clef with brief, simple switches to next most common clef.
Dynamics: ppp thru fff plus sfz, fz, rf.
Length: Up to long, plus multi movement.


Grade 6

Typical college level player.

Difficulty: Difficult or “advanced.”
Time: All times, mixed times (4 + 3/4 etc) and multiple time changes.
Key: All keys, “wrong key” & “no key” notation with dedicated accidentals.
Tonality: All modes, plus atonality.
Rhythm: All rhythms plus basic or short aleatoric sections.
Range: Full professional range as required by standard orchestral rep.
Tessitura: Central 85% of range.
Clef: Any clef as required by standard orchestral rep.
Dynamics: All or any.
Length: Any.


Grade 7

Advanced college & professional level player.

Difficulty: Very difficult or “virtuostic.”
Time: All times & “none.”
Key: Same as 6.
Tonality: Same as 6 plus atonal, quarter-tonal, and alternate systems.
Rhythm: All rhythms, plus extensive aleatoric techniques.
Range: Full professional range with “athletic” hyper-extensions.
Tessitura: Anywhere in the full range.
Clef: Any.
Dynamics: All or any.
Length: Any, but especially applies to very long works.