Grade 2 – 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.


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”.

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All grade 1 terms as well as the following:
a at, to, by, for, in, in the style of
al, alla to the, in the manner of
alla marcia in the style of a march
Allargando Broadening
Andantino Slightly faster than Andante
assai very
con, col with
dolce Sweetly
e, ed and
espressivo (or espress. or espr.) expressive (or expressively)
long_small_expression_box Translation = Loud then immediately soft. Musicians refer to this symbol as ‘Forte-Piano’
Giocoso Playful, merry
Grave Slow, very solemn
Grazioso Graceful
Larghetto Rather Slow
Largo Slow, stately
ma but
Maestoso Majestic
meno less
molto very, much
mosso, moto movement
meno mosso slower
con moto with movement
non not
piu more
Presto Fast (faster than allegro)
senza without
long_small_expression_boxorlong_small_expression_box Translation = forced, accented. Musicians refer to these symbols as ‘Sforzato or Sforzando’
Simile (or sim.) in the same way
Sostenuto Sustained
Tenuto Held
troppo too much
vivace, vivo lively, quick
Large_area_graphics Translation = The notes are to be played as short as possible (shorter than Staccato). Musicians refer to these symbols as Staccatissimo.
Large_area_graphics Dots inside a slur mean that the notes should be played slightly separated but not as much as ordinary staccato dots.
Large_area_graphics Translation = Play each note marked with the ‘-‘ symbol for its full length. Sometimes described as putting a slight pressure on the note. Musicians refer to these symbols as ‘Tenuto’.
Large_area_graphics The symbol over the first two notes are accents, as detailed in the grade 1 terminology list. The symbol over the second two notes mean an even stronger accent. Musicians refer to the second two symbols as ‘Marcato’.