The Achievement in Music program, also known as AIM, is an exciting and motivating curriculum designed to develop strong performance and technical skills in piano as well as a thorough understanding of music theory. It is through these acquired skills and increased musical knowledge that students are able to perform both with confidence and with a high level of musicianship. The AIM program continues to grow with almost 4,000 students across several states participating in the examinations each year.
There are twelve levels in the Achievement in Music Syllabus, with each level containing theory, performance, and technical requirements that follow a logical progression of skills from early elementary through advanced levels. Students generally prepare one level each year and demonstrate their competency at annual AIM Examinations, which are conducted by experienced judges in a comfortable and non-competitive setting.
Students in Level I take an exam which includes technique, sight reading and transposition, aural skills, and the performance of two memorized pieces. A written exam and the harmonization of melodies are added to the exams in Levels II through XII. The performance exam concentrates on technique (scales, chord progressions and inversions, and arpeggios) and the performance of pieces from a flexible repertoire list.
Students who pass the exams receive a certificate, award pin and the written feedback from the judge. After successful participation the first time, the student also receives a medal with a ribbon on which to display the award pin from different exam levels when completed. As an incentive to continue participating in the exams, students passing Levels VIII and above will be awarded additional merit prizes.
The non-competitive nature of this exam makes it a valuable performance experience. There is no first place rating and scores are not published. Friendly judges offer constructive criticism and encouragement in the rating sheets. Often students are more relaxed during the AIM exam than during a large recital because there are only two people in the room during the exam the student and the judge.
Being involved in the AIM program of study is important because it gives the student attainable goals to work toward each year. The material gets progressively more difficult with each new level which gives the student a concrete tool with which to measure progress. These exams also equip the students who decide to make a career in music by providing a strong foundation for further study. Regardless of the career choice, performing and understanding music is a gift for a lifetime that benefits the individual and society.