Playing Test: Scales

Instrumental music students will be given six scales to prepare for performance. Vocal music students will be given one scale pattern, which should be sung in three different keys. Students will have four weeks to rehearse the scales. Students will also keep a log of their practice schedule and a weekly journal of the their progress in their Student Booklet, which the teacher will review on a weekly basis.

For vocalists, each scale is to be played or sung in one octave. Students must be prepared to perform legato and staccato. Students must crescendo while ascending the scale and decrescendo while descending the scale. The required rhythm for diatonic scales is quarter note, six eighth notes, quarter note, six eighth notes, and whole note. The chromatic scale must be performed with even rhythms. The difficulty of the scales increases for each level.
The required scales for each student level are as follows:

First-Year Students (Level 1)
o Instrumental—concert B-flat major, concert E-flat major, concert F major, concert G melodic minor, concert C melodic minor, and concert D melodic minor
o Vocal—major scale, sung on solfège or scale degree numbers in three different keys

Second-Year Students (Level 2)
o Instrumental—concert C major, concert A-flat major, concert G major, concert A melodic minor, concert F melodic minor, and concert E melodic minor
o Vocal—melodic minor scale, sung on solfège or scale degree numbers in three different keys

Third-Year Students (Level 3)
Instrumental—concert D-flat major, concert D major, concert G-flat major, concert B-flat melodic minor, concert B melodic minor, and concert E-flat melodic minor
o Vocal—harmonic minor, sung on solfège or scale degree numbers in three different keys

Fourth-Year Students (Level 3)
o Instrumental—concert A major, concert E major, concert B major, concert F-sharp melodic minor, concert C-sharp melodic minor, and concert G-sharp melodic minor
o Vocal—chromatic scale, sung on solfège or a neutral syllable in three different keys

At the end of the four weeks, each student will have his/her performance of the assigned scales recorded. Students will be evaluated in five categories of musical performance: Tone Quality, Intonation, Rhythm, Technique, and Interpretation according to a rubric found in their Student Booklets. Students will also complete a written reflection of the experience based on their journal and practice log that will not be scored but will be part of the requirement for completion.

The teacher should designate a colleague, parent, or senior student to be the test administrator. The test administrator will set up the recording space and monitor the process, which includes logging in the students, providing the directions, operating the recording equipment, and logging the recording timer information.

This item has been voluntarily field-tested by Michigan teachers with a non-representative sample of students.

This is an analytic rubric. The column on the left shows the dimension that is being measured in the student’s performance. The levels across the top row indicate the performance level in the dimensions. Occasionally all dimensions and performance levels are exemplified by multiple students in a single recording.


  • Dimension
  • Tone

  • Pitch

  • Tempo

  • Technique/Articulation

  • Dynamics

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • Tone is not characteristic of the instrument/voice part.

    View Exemplar
  • Tone is characteristic of the instrument/voice part within comfortable ranges.

    View Exemplar
  • Tone is characteristic of the instrument/voice part within comfortable and extended ranges.

    View Exemplars
    View Exemplars
  • Tone of the instrument/voice is characteristic throughout the performance and includes more advanced concepts such as vibrato or tone coloring.

    View Exemplars
    View Exemplars
  • Add one point if student is able to demonstrate the ability to crescendo on the ascending scale and diminuendo on the descending scale.

    N/A at this time.
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