Grade 3 – Terminology

In every grade you will be tested on your knowledge of various musical terms, signs and symbols. No video can help you learn these – it’s just a case of taking a deep breath and learning each term one-by-one. Of course, every time you look at a piece of music see what terms and symbols are used – if you’re not sure what something is, look it up or ask a music teacher. You’ll be amazed what you can learn just by looking at a piece of music.

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If an exam question asks for the meaning of a symbol don’t just give the English translation of the word.¬†For example, if you were asked to give the meaning of the following¬†symbol:


Don’t just give the answer as “Forte”; this is not the meaning. A perfect answer would be “loud” or “forte, which means loud”.

All grade 1 and grade 2 terms as well as the following:
adagietto rather slow
ad libitum, ad lib a passage may be played freely
agitato agitated
alla breve with a minim beat. Implying a faster tempo than the note values may suggest.
amore love
anima soul, spirit
animato animated, lively
ben well
brio vigour
comodo convenient
deciso with determination
delicato delicate
energico energetic
forza force
largamente broadly
leggiero light, nimble
marcato or marc. emphatic, accented
marziale in a military style
mesto sad
pesante heavy
prima, primo first
risoluto bold, strong
ritmico rhythmically
rubato, tempo rubato slight freedom of time
scherzando, scherzoso playful, joking
seconda, secondo second
semplice simple, plain
sempre always
stringendo gradually getting faster
subito suddenly
tanto so much
tranquillo calm
triste, tristamente sad, sorrowful
volta time