Skip to main content
Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

Prin­cip­al Instru­ment

  • Year of study: Over two semesters.
  • Final assessment: Exam concert.
  • Prerequisites: Admission to a programme in which the course is included.
  • Language of instruction: Norwegian and English.

Course description

This course is required for students of Strings, Brass, Woodwinds, and Harp.

Credits for completion of Principal Instrument include the following courses:

  • Practice and Accompaniment
  • Forum and Interpretation II
  • Orchestra II

Learning objectives

Upon completing this course, the student is expected to

  • have advanced his/her principal instrument skills and artistic abilities
  • have acquired a varied and broad repertoire, and expanded her/his understanding of various styles
  • be able to perform music in a personal manner with a stylistic assertion
  • be able to apply purposeful and independent working methods


Required course work is comprised of

  • technical exercises/etudes
  • repertoire studies
  • practice methods
  • interpretation and presentation

In connection with this, the student should devote particular focus to

  • a broad repertoire of works from all musical periods appropriate for the instrument of study
  • solo, ensemble and orchestra works central to the instrument of study
  • interpretations and presentations of musical works by different performers
  • supporting literature, such as critical analyses and studies of musical works
  • the literature on the history of the instrument of study and related performances
  • literature that describes musicians’ activities, views, experiences, and working methods, such as biographies and articles
  • the literature on culture and music politics
  • the literature on instrument techniques

Norwegian, Nordic and contemporary works of music should be represented in the study repertoire. Some of the works studied in Chamber Music and other performance courses may comprise part of the individual principal instrument repertoire presented in the final exam programme.

The selection of works should reflect the aim of building a broad repertoire while considering the individual student’s technical skills on their principal instrument and interests. Supporting literature should be selected by the student, based on specific needs in connection with instrument technique and repertoire studies. Suggestions and advice regarding the choice of supporting literature are offered to the student by her/his instructors. The study of supporting literature should be relevant to the instruction given in the course.


  • Instruction and supervision: Weekly individual instruction on the student’s principal instrument, group lessons, lectures, seminars, projects and study groups.
  • Individual study: practice, listening and literature studies.
  • Performance: concerts and presentations.

Structure and recommended scope of instruction are further outlined (under Organisation) in the programme curriculum.

Students have registered automatically for instruction/supervision and assessment in the course, in accordance with the study progress requirements set out in the individual education plan.

Course requirements

1. Concert performance participation

  • Participation at one concert (minimum) is compulsory for all students.

2. Participation and completion of Forum and Interpretation (FORUM30)

  • Participation must be approved and verified by the instructor.

3. Principal Instrument Report (submitted to the Exams Office) providing

  • overview of studied repertoire of at least 100 minutes
  • overview of participation in chamber music/ensembles
  • overview of concert performance participation
  • overview of participation at seminars and/or masterclasses
  • bibliography of supporting literature studied in the course

4. Confirmation of report

  • Reports must be confirmed and signed by the course instructor before submitted in three copies to the Exams Office by the deadline, 15 April.

5. Brass and Woodwind students only

  • An orchestra/band play exam is held at the end of the first semester. The Academy’s Brass and Woodwinds faculty make up the jury and group responsible for organising the exam. 14 days in advance of the exam, a list of standard works that the jury wishes to hear excerpts from is provided to students. The duration of the exam is 20 minutes. An exam evaluation is given orally to the student directly after the Exam Concert. A final assessment in the course will only be given to students who have passed the exam.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be fulfilled and approved before the student is given a final assessment.

The final assessment will be given as a letter mark, which will be determined on the basis of an Exam Concert at the end of the academic year.

Assessments will be carried out by a panel consisting of at least three examiners, of which one must be external and two may be members of staff. Examiners judge the performance in relation to the course learning objectives. The panel issues a collective oral statement of evaluation of the Exam Concert.

In the case of re-assessment, the same procedures as for an ordinary assessment will be followed.

Exam Concert Programme

The student performs an exam programme with an approximate duration of 45 minutes (maximum 50 minutes). Chamber music compositions should be included in the programme repertoire.

The exam programme is determined by the student and her/his principal instrument instructor. In case of disagreement about the programme, the instructor makes final decisions.

Students of brass instruments must perform at least one composition without notation. Chamber music repertoire may comprise up to 10 minutes of the programme. The candidate is allowed a break of up to 20 minutes.

Study component

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: Mar 4, 2021