Example improvisation tests: Harmonic


Trinity exams offer a range of supporting tests, allowing candidates to play to their strengths. Candidates choosing the improvisation test can select between three types of improvisation: motivic, harmonic or stylistic. The examples on this page are all showing the harmonic stimulus, in which the candidate improvises unaccompanied in response to a chord sequence.

Sample tests can be downloaded from our general resources page. The parameters for the test at each grade (e.g. length, chords, number of chords per bar) and assessment criteria are given in the Strings Syllabus.


Cello — Grade 3

Watch an example of a Grade 3 Cello improvisation test (harmonic stimulus) performed by Finlay.

Finlay is awarded a Pass for his improvisation. There are some good attempts to follow the chords and also an emerging melodic content, albeit somewhat dominated by 1st & 5th of chords. However, a number of slips and stumbles affected the fluency, and the performance was rather rhythmically repetitive, with no sense of development in the repeat.


Violin – Grade 3

Watch an example of a Grade 3 Violin improvisation test (harmonic stimulus) performed by Allison.


Allison is awarded a Pass for her improvisation. This performance contains some interesting ideas and started with confidence. However the structure was a little ragged and lacking in shape.

Filmed at Cheadle Hulme School, Cheshire, November 2016. 

  • Further examples of the Harmonic test can be found on our Youtube playlist — covering higher grades and other instruments.