Performance Directions

The given opening of your composition will already include:

  • the tempo,
  • some articulations such as slurs, and
  • at least a starting dynamic.

Don’t forget to copy these over in exactly the same way, when you copy the first two bars on to the staves provided!

Make sure that the rest of the piece uses performance directions in more or less the same way – be consistent – use the same type of directions, in the same sort of places and in about the same amounts, all the way through.

Make your performance directions coincide properly with your phrases.

Try to imagine someone actually playing your piece – how would it be best expressed in terms of dynamics?

Make sure that your dynamics are written precisely, underneath the note or notes they affect. Dynamic letters/hairpins should be written directly under the notes the they affect (not under rests or bar lines).

The kind of articulation you use will be connected with the rhythms you choose. If you use quick notes, you might consider slurring them or making them staccato, for example. For slurred passages, think about whether the player will be able to fit all the notes into one breath, or one sweep of the bow – don’t slur too many notes in one group.

At the end, consider using a rit., and/or pause.


Avoid using the very lowest playable notes for brass and flute as they are often lacking in tone quality. Wind/brass players need to be able to breathe somewhere, so make allowances for this.

In the ABRSM exams you are writing at concert pitch. Beware of writing too high for the horn (which would be transposed up a perfect 5th when put into written pitch).

The following ranges are written pitch:

woodwind instrument ranges
brass instrument ranges
string instrument ranges