Children who do not attend specialist instrumental lessons should still be able to achieve top grades in GCSE music, according to new exam criteria.
Music teachers have said they support the requirement, but warned that it could cause problems for those setting and marking the exams. There are concerns that boards might be tempted to water down the exams to give children who do not receive specialist tuition a chance at the top grades.
Hilary Meyer,Jof the National Association of Music Educators, said it would be a "tall order" for non-specialists to achieve top grades.
"It's not fair and it's not right, but the reality is that the children who do the best have extra lessons.
"The exam boards need to be careful in the standards that they set."