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In 1887 a program of music examinations was initiated in Australia by the Universities of Adelaide and Melbourne. Subsequently the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) emerged in 1918 as a national body with the purpose of providing graded assessments of the achievements of music students. Later, examinations were also provided for students of speech and drama.

The Board provides syllabuses across a wide range of musical instruments, as well as in singing, theory of music, musicianship, and speech and drama. It has become the most widely-used assessment system in these fields of study in Australia. The success and high regard for Australian musicians at an international level has been partly due to the encouragement of young performers in this country through their participation in AMEB activities.

While one of the chief functions of the Board is to set examination standards of a high order, more importantly it strives to offer all students access to some of the best repertoire for study purposes, whether they subsequently sit for the examinations or not. Through its publications the Board strives for the highest editorial standards of presentation together with advice on interpretation from some of the leading practitioners in the country. The Board has a commitment to including compositions by Australian and New Zealand composers in its publications and syllabuses.

Overall direction of these activities is the responsibility of a Federal Board consisting of representatives of educational institutions which are signatories to the AMEB constitution, namely the Universities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Western Australia, the Minister for Education, New South Wales, the Minister for Education, Queensland, and the Minister for Education and Training, Tasmania, through the University of Tasmania.

The success of the AMEB's role in developing standards of performance and scholarship has been achieved through the support of teachers in all States. A collaborative approach is used in the development of syllabuses, and views are sought from teachers in all areas of the Board's work. With the assistance of its examiners and specialist panels, the Board will continue to work in association with teachers to provide encouragement for students and the sense of achievement that is an outcome of participation in its syllabuses and examinations. The Board believes that its activities ultimately lead to the enhancement of the cultural life of the community.

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