Guidance on selecting material

Our ethos is to always ‘accept the offer’. There are no limitations to the choices of material performers might make as long as the exam duration and the Level Focus requirements are met.

We hope to experience material which excites performers and motivates them to want to explore that material in all its dimensions; material that will best reflect the performer’s abilities and which will offer scope for stretch and challenge. 

Whatever material the performer brings to the exam space is itself a reflection of who they are, their interests, their taste and their personality. These aspects of each individual are welcomed into the space and are celebrated as the basis of the Reflection task; we are interested in why this material has enthused and engaged them, and we encourage the performers to talk about their choices with agency.

Mountview Exams invites performers to embrace this ideology of no boundaries regarding the content. We welcome ideas from every culture and the opportunity to explore material which is meaningful to the performer. The ability to talk about their creative process and response to the material is as valued as their choice of material.

We suggest that as the Levels progress, the themes, content and language reflect the performer’s stage of life and offer sufficient challenge to prompt them to work at their fullest reach. We consider all materials as ungendered and therefore freely available to every performer.  

The Level Focus guidance supports the performer’s selection of material and the corresponding level of challenge.  Mountview Exams invites performers to make brave choices and to fully own those choices.

Singing Materials

Singing repertoire for the exams can be selected with a focus on the individual’s voice-type, personal aesthetic preferences and technical competence. Performers can self-direct in terms of determining levels of difficulty shown in relation to Grades. We do not prescribe a list of pre-determined competency levels. We recognise that what is challenging for one performer can be achievable for another. Hence, the selection of sung material is according to each performer’s abilities and it constitutes an important part of their ownership of the process.  

Within this framework, we invite performers to express technical competence through songs that illustrate musicality, expressive phrasing of sung text, and a variety of voice quality choices and dynamics. Where more than one song needs to be selected, we invite performers to show a contrast. This may take various forms – for example era, tempo, musical style, text pattern – however we recognise that contrast can be evidenced within the same genre according to how the material is sung.   

The material should belong to the Musical Theatre canon: songs from stage musicals, film musicals, films with music, animated film musicals, or ‘standalone’ songs created by composers associated with the genre.

Where might the performer source the music?

Performers can choose to have a live accompanist in their exam space, or they can play either a pre-recorded live accompaniment or play a downloaded backing track.

Though no licence is required when downloading music for examining purpose, we advise the purchase of any backing track from a reputable supplier. 

Performers are invited to use any recorded track which offers a version of the music which they connect with, are comfortable with and can rehearse with. 

Performers should ensure that track lengths correspond with the specific task requirement.

A web search for ‘backing track supplier’ will offer a range of companies. Backing tracks should be purchased then downloaded as an MP3 or audio file, which can be played from a phone or laptop through speakers/sound system.  

We caution against relying on WiFi to play music.  

The right key: there are music websites which enable the performer to have the track downloaded in an alternative key to the original.  

The right sound of production: performers can purchase sheet music for a particular song, which often comes with the option to download the backing track with a few different versions such as piano only or orchestral.  

Performers could use one of many notation apps, which allow performers to input their own notes as a score, thus creating their own music track which the app then converts to an audio recording.

Acting Materials

Acting is evidenced in every song and dance, but when offering acting as a separate task, performers are invited to do so in a variety of ways: through storytelling, performing lyrics and poetry, or monologues.

Material can be published, exist only digitally or it can be original work. If an original monologue is offered, the text itself would not be assessed, only the performing of it but we would still ask that at Level Three the script is brought into the exam, as if it were a published monologue.  

Monologues may be more difficult to source for the performer’s age group. There are publications of monologues as well as online examples. We suggest performers consider creating their own monologues by piecing together passages of dialogue text from a favourite novel or play, maybe removing or adding a few words, to create something which has a complete sense of a continuous through line.

The Original Script of the Monologue and Score

At Level Three, performers give the examiner a photocopy of the original script of any monologue or score they are performing (if a retyped version, with the punctuation and layout exactly as the original). The way in which a character is written helps shape who the character is, according to the author’s intention – choosing to perform it differently, for example by changing the punctuation, is a creative choice and as such can provide an interesting point of focus in the Reflection component of the exam. Even if the monologue is self-written, a hard copy of the text offers points of focus for discussion. The score offers the same point of focus in the Reflection and in the Redirection and the Redirection.  

At Preview and Level One, Text is differentiated from Monologue in the following way: 

  • Text is a storytelling exercise and it connects with the music, is influenced by it, and responds to it. There are two points of focus for the performer – the relationship between the text and the music, and the connection with the words of the text itself 
  • The Monologue is character-led. The performer can be speaking to themselves or to others. There is no need for accompanying music or soundscape, unless it enhances the process for the performer, but the point of focus is characterisation

At Level Two both the Text and the Monologue tasks are expressions of characterisation in scenario, inviting performers to create character from any text and in any form. Backing tracks are not necessary, but it can be added if it supports the characterisation.

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