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The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 3

I’m currently in the process of producing an extensive collection of resources for the syllabus on my Online Academy. These include detailed video walk-throughs providing practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation and other ideas for each of the main pieces (from initial to Grade 8), and a selection of alternative pieces.

Continuing my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus, this week I am having a look at the pieces in the main book for Grade 3 (click here to view my previous post featuring Grade 2). But first here is a preview where I highlight one piece from each list (A, B, and C), as a taster of the type of content you’ll find in the Online Academy’s ABRSM resources:

The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos for my ABRSM resources on the Online Academy is available here):

LIST A

Beethoven: Ecossaise in E (No. 4 from Six Ecossaises, WoO 83) 

A lively dance in 2/4 time, an ecossaise is actually the French word for “Scottish”! Flexibility in the right hand is necessary to avoid tension, and flexibility in the pulse (while not indicated in the score) is essential to bring grace and elegance at the start, and then some forward movement in the forte ending.

Burgmüller: Innocence (No. 5 from 25 études faciles et progressives, Op.100) 

A study in delicacy of touch and articulation, tonal balance between the hands and control of scale patterns in the upper register, Innocence gives plenty of scope for developing an understanding of harmony. The beauty of Burgmüller’s études is that they develop musical as well as technical skills. 

Handel: Gavotte in G, HWV 491 

A model of symmetry and tightly organised musical structure, Handel’s Gavotte in G gives the player scope for developing sensitivity of touch and articulation in both hands. 

LIST B

Elgar: Salut d’amour, Op.12, arr. Jones 

Elgar’s famous violin melody is transcribed for piano by Richard Jones in a setting that requires careful balance between the two hands, as well as control of tone in the left hand. Use of the pedal is essential. 

Haydn: Andante (2nd movt from Trumpet Concerto in E-, Hob. VIIe:1), arr. White 

This arrangement by Martin White of the slow movement from Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto contains few notes, giving the player the opportunity to feel the symmetry of the music and to shape the right hand phrases melodically. 

Ailbhe McDonagh: Anastasia (from It’s a Piano Thing, Book 2) 

This beautiful chromatic waltz calls for a legato cantabile touch in the right hand, and control of balance between the bass line and accompanimental chords in the left hand.  The player will need to listen for accuracy in the pedalling.

LIST C

Alan Bullard: Disco Baroque

Based on the circle of fifths harmonic progression, this ingenious disco-style setting is both entertaining and educational. The player will need a keen eye – and an even keener ear – to bring out the difference each time the progression recurs. 

Grechaninov: Riding the Hobby-Horse (No. 5 from Children’s Album, Op. 98) 

This delightful piece describes a ride on a child’s hobby horse, with some written commentary from the composer. An opportunity to develop forearm staccato, the music contains both marcato and tenuto accents in a variety of different dynamics. An effective pedal texture towards the end adds colour. 

Sarah Watts: Scary Stuff (from Razzamajazz Repertoire Piano

This excellent character piece calls for an active imagination as you tell a spooky story in sound. Have this story in mind as you play, savouring the tremolo at the end of the B section (a musical scream). 

***

The complete collection of video walk-throughs for ABRSM Grade 3 is now available on the Online Academy. Please click here to view if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

You can get further updates on resources for the ABRSM syllabus by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews. 

Existing resources for the Trinity and previous ABRSM syllabi can be viewed on the Online Academy here.

judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 4

Continuing my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus, this week I am having a look at the pieces in the main book for Grade 4 (click here to view my previous post featuring Grade 3, and click here to view Grade 2). The following video is a preview where I highlight one piece from each list (A, B, and C) for the grade:

The complete collection of video walk-throughs for ABRSM Grade 4 is now available on the Online Academy and includes detailed video walk-throughs with practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation. Please click here to view if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

You can get further updates on my resources for the ABRSM syllabus by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews. 

The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos on the Online Academy is available here):

LIST A

J. S. Bach: Prelude in C minor, BWV 999 

Built from a harmonic progression and originally written for lute we can recreate some of the resonance of that instrument either by short touches of pedal, or by overholding some notes of the broken chords. 

Kabalevsky: Etude in A minor (No. 3 from 30 Children’s Pieces, Op. 27) 

A valuable étude for the lower intermediate player that will accelerate technical development, this piece is built from familiar scale patterns in right hand against a simpler left hand featuring slurred quaver pairs. It makes an excellent recital piece. 

Schubert: Minuet and Trio, D. 41 No. 21 

An elegant minuet and trio with some pleasing chromatic touches, this pair of dances is full of interest as well as challenges in touch and articulation. 

LIST B

Arens: Moonbeams (No.1 from Rendezvous with Midnight)

Barbara Arens’ imaginative and beautifully-written nocturne needs a flexible approach and generous pedalling to bring out its many expressive possibilities. It is certain to be a popular choice.

Bridge: Miniature Pastoral (No. 2 from Three Miniature Pastorals, Set 1) 

This delightful piece brings as many rewards as it poses challenges to the lower intermediate player, and will certainly help develop sensitivity to touch and responsiveness to mood and character.

Schumann: Erster Verlust (No.16 from Album für die Jugend, Op. 68) 

Describing the tender feelings evoked by a child’s first experience of loss, Schumann’s gorgeous miniature would not be out of place as a calming recital encore. It demands great sensitivity to mood and phrasing; light touches of pedal (not marked in the score) add colour. 

LIST C

Bartók: Teasing Song (No.18 from For Children, Vol. 2) 

A folk melody, presented in different keys, is passed from left hand to right and back again – with an off-beat chordal accompaniment in the other hand. The mood is light, with plenty of touches of humour. The player will need to attend to varieties of touch, articulation and dynamics.

Ben Crosland: I Hear What You Say (No. 4 from Cool Beans!, Vol. 1) 

A beautifully atmospheric piece in which melodic lines are woven together over a steady left hand accompaniment in crotchets. This piece requires careful attention to dynamics, pedalling and tone colour.

Sam Wedgwood: Shark Soup (from Sam Wedgwood’s Project, Book 2) 

This entertaining contemporary jazz-style piece presents challenges in rhythm and articulationIt will take a keen eye and a measure of concentration to play this piece as precisely as the composer has indicated. 

 

judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 5

Continuing my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus, this week I am having a look at the pieces in the main book for Grade 5 (click here to view my previous post featuring Grade 4, click here for Grade 3, and click here to view Grade 2). The following video is a preview where I pick out a selection of pieces from each main list (A, B, and C) for the grade:

The complete collection of video walk-throughs for ABRSM Grade 5 is now available on the Online Academy and includes detailed video walk-throughs with practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation. Please click here to view if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

You can get further updates on my resources for the ABRSM syllabus by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews. 

The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos on the Online Academy is available here):

LIST A

J.F.F. Burgmüller: La chevaleresque (No. 25 from 25 études faciles et progressives, Op.100) 

The last étude from Burgmüller’s evergreen op. 100 set, La chevaleresque. We can see the little horse trotting – maybe in a circus or maybe showing off at a dressage event. Either way the moves are highly organised, elegant and controlled. Sometimes translated as “The Spirit of Chivalry” the title has connotations of gallantry (courtesy between men and women).

T. A. Arne: Presto (2nd movt from Sonata No. 6

A lively and joyous English jig from the composer of Rule, Brittania!, there are plenty of opportunities to explore various different touches, textures and articulations. Don’t let the ornaments put you off – trills placed on quavers may be played as acciacaturas (crushed notes). 

Handel: Toccata in G minor, HWV 586 

From the verb toccare (to touch), this Toccata offers vast scope for clarity in the ornamentation, phrasing and subtle articulation. Depending on the player’s choice, it may be played expressively and on the slow side, or faster and sprightlier. 

LIST B

A. Beach: Arctic Night (No.1 from Eskimos, Op. 64)

This descriptive piece by American composer Amy Beach is full of colour and expressive possibilities. The player will need to respond to the changes in the bleak landscape, using the pedal sensitively. 

Nevada: Starry Dome (No.15 from Piano Meditation

This meditation for piano is rather hypnotic and will be a popular choice because of its technical accessibility and the calming mood it creates. There is a rhythmic challenge with the syncopations in the 5/4 bars, and pedalling will need some care. 

Tchaikovsky: Douce rêverie (No. 21 from Album pour enfants, Op. 39) 

From Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young, this beautiful piece requires sensitivity of touch, careful balance between the hands and attention to phrasing and pedalling to bring out its many expressive qualities.

LIST C

Gillock: Mister Trumpet Man (from New Orleans Jazz Styles

In this effective recital piece we hear a jazz trumpeter in dialogue with the band. The main melodic line requires a degree of freedom within the swung style (triplet quavers). Pay close attention to the dynamic changes, and the accents. 

Heather Hammond: Changing Times (from Cool Piano 5)

We find two time signatures – 4/4, featuring an expressive RH melody with a flowing LH accompaniment in quavers, and then a contrasting jazz waltz in 3/4, faster and with zingy syncopations. 

Prokoviev: Tarantella (No. 4 from Musiques d’enfants, Op. 65) 

Prokoviev’s Music for Children was composed in 1935 and contains 12 pieces with descriptive titles. The Tarantella is one of the best examples of this type of dance piece, featuring spinning patterns in both hands and plenty of quirky harmonic and rhythmic features that make Prokoviev’s style so engaging. 

judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 6

The next installment in my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus features the main pieces in the Grade 6 list. In the following video I provide some highlights and tips for a selection of pieces from each of the three lists (A, B, and C) for the grade:

The complete collection of video walk-throughs for ABRSM Grade 6 is now available on the Online Academy and includes detailed video walk-throughs with practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation. Please click here to view if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

You can get further updates on my resources for the ABRSM syllabus by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews. 

The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos on the Online Academy is available here):

LIST A

Pescetti: Allegro (4th movt from Sonata No. 8 in C

There is plenty of scope for experimentation with dynamics and articulation in this lively Allegro by Pescetti. It requires considerable agility in the right hand and solid, rhythmical support from the left.

Mozart: Allegro (3rd movt from Sonata in E -, K. 282) 

Composed when Mozart was just 19, this challenging and brilliant sonata form movement requires precision and clarity in touch, and imagination in characterising the different themes. We find just two dynamic markings (and f), leaving room for the player to add more shadings in between.

C. Nielsen: Snurretoppen (No. 2 from Humoreske- Bagateller, Op.11) 

This witty character piece is based on spinning patterns in the right hand that require a high level of technical control. Once mastered, this piece is great fun to play. Pay attention to details of phrasing and dynamics, carefully indicated by the composer, and enjoy the left hand glissando at the end. 

LIST B

Chopin: Mazurka in G minor, Op. 67 No. 2 

The mazurka is based on the Polish folk dance that originated in Mazovia, near Warsaw. Chopin wrote more than 50 mazurkas and listening to a variety of them will help develop a sense of the characteristic style. This example, in G minor, was written in the last year of Chopin’s life (1849). 

Debussy: Page d’album 

Debussy’s exquisitely crafted late miniature calls for delicacy of touch and sensitivity to the frequent changes in tempo (effectively written-out rubato)The player who chooses this piece will find the piece growing on them as they finesse it – an eye and an ear for detail are absolute requirements. 

Senfter: Erster Schmerz (from Sechs kleine Stücke für Anfänger

We might imagine an oboe solo, with gentle support from strings. Later on, a middle voice joins in and the harmony gets a whole lot more interesting. The rhythmic challenge is to match the tempo of the A section with the B section, bringing flexibility and nuanced phrasing and tonal balance to the outer sections and dignified tautness to the middle. Compare Johanna Senfter’s Erster Schmerz (First Sorrow) with Robert Schumann’s and Sergei Bortkiewicz’s pieces of the same name. 

LIST C

Martha Mier: Opening Night Jazz (from Jazz, Rags & Blues, Book 5) 

This rousing jazz piece is guaranteed to please, and to impress. With relatively few notes, Martha Mier empowers the player to sound amazing.

M. Arnold: The Buccaneer (from Eight Children’s Pieces, Op. 36) 

The Buccanneer is a highly effective show piece. Our slightly inebriated swashbuckling hero is painted in glorious technicolour by Malcolm Arnold. The player will need to be comfortable with fast repeated notes and be able to play melody and accompaniment in one hand.

Karen Tanaka: Lavender Field 

Lavender Field is a gently flowing piece where the composer invites us to “imagine weaving colour and scent with sounds”. Washed with pedal, there are some delicate moments and beautiful harmonic touches. 

judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 7

The next installment in my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus features the main pieces in the Grade 7 list. In the following video I provide some highlights and tips for a selection of pieces from each of the three lists (A, B, and C) for the grade (click here for links to previews for other grades):

The complete video walk-throughs for a selection of four of the ABRSM Grade 7 pieces are now available on the Online Academy. These include detailed video walk-throughs with practice suggestions, tips on style and interpretation. Please click here to view if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

You can get further updates on my resources for the ABRSM syllabus by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews. 

New workshop series!

As a complement to my Online Academy resources, I am also running a series of online workshops. These workshops will cover repertoire in addition to topics such as scales, sight-reading and preparation. The format will be interactive with opportunities for questions and answers. Please click here further information.  

Grade 7 Repertoire Overview

The following are brief overviews of each of the main pieces (an index with links to the full videos on the Online Academy is available here):

List A

A1 

J. S. Bach: Sinfonia No.15 in B minor, BWV 801 

Bach’s aims for the Inventions and Sinfonias were to encourage composition (an understanding and appreciation of musical structure), to foster good playing in two and three parts (or voices), and above all “to arrive at a cantabile style of playing”. Apart from good tone, a singing style relies on phrase shaping, an appropriate range of dynamics and colour, as well as articulation.

A2 

Beethoven: Bagatelle in Eb (No.1 from Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33) 

Beethoven wrote short pieces (which he called “trifles”) throughout his creative life, which he published in three collections. This piece is the first from the earliest set, op. 33. In rondo form (ABACABA with a generous coda), Beethoven brings variety to the main theme whenever it comes back. Graceful throughout with touches of humour, the player will need to respond imaginatively when phrases repeat. 

A3 Telemann: Vivace

Georg Philipp Telemann was an exact contemporary of J. S. Bach, and in his day the more famous of the two. This energetic Vivace, from a set of Fantasias for the harpsichord, is in Italian concerto style, where we feel the effect of tutti and solo sections in alternation. There is plenty of scope for a wide dynamic range, at the discretion of the performer.  

List B

B1

Fauré: Andante moderato (No. 5 from Pièces brèves, Op. 84) 

Originally written as a sight-reading test for the students of the Paris Conservatoire, this piece requires a sensitive ear for tone, colour and layering of sound as well as considerable delicacy with the pedalling. The pedal markings given in the score are by no means comprehensive but serve as a starting point. I recommend some hand redistributions for the rising arpeggio figures, allowing the left hand to take some of the notes. 

B2

Grieg: Sarabande (No. 2 from Holberg Suite, Op. 40)

Grieg’s Holberg Suite is neo-baroque in style. It is as though the composer was looking for inspiration from Baroque forms and elements of Baroque style (contrapuntal lines, ornaments, clear cadences into related keys, and so on). The Sarabande still has all the hallmarks of Grieg’s style – inventive melodic lines, generous pianistic textures and Romantic harmonies. Plenty of pedal is required to bring this piece off; timing the pedal to avoid blurring the ornaments will require practice.

B3

Ni Hongjin: Cradle Song (No. 3 from Suite of the Zhuang People’s Village)

Chinese pianist and composer, Ni Hongjin composed her suite in 1979, giving a musical account of the village life of the Zhuang people from southern China. Do not be put off by the six sharps in the key signature of Cradle Song; pieces with lots of black notes lie very nicely under the hand, and the feel of F# major is actually very comfortable. The left hand contributes much to this piece, and there are a variety of different pedalling possibilities depending on the player’s good taste.

List C

C1

Madeleine Dring: Pink Minor (No. 1 from Colour Suite)

Pink Minor comes from Madeleine Dring’s Colour Suite, composed in 1963. A study in rhythm, this jazz-style piece is in rondo form, the main theme varied each time it returns. Even though there is no comment in the score, the dotted rhythms work best when they are not too sharp but realised as triplets.

C2

Ibert: Le petit âne blanc (No. 2 from Histoires

This charming character piece is full of colour and contrasts, inviting the performer to come up with their own imagery, or a story line from the imagination. Make this as vibrant and detailed as you can! The mood is happy at the start, but after a while the little donkey’s delicate trotting (and occasional contented braying) is disturbed by a dark, chromatic inner voice that leads to a middle section that is much livelier and more exuberant. The player will need to develop control over light, bouncy staccato notes, and repeated chords. 

C3

Rhian Samuel: The Therapy of Moonlight (No. 1 from A Garland for Anne)

The title of Welsh composer Rhian Samuel’s piece comes from a poem by Anglo-American poet Anne Stevenson, describing the winter landscape of her home in Snowdonia. This beautifully constructed, atmospheric piece makes full use of the different registers of the piano, exploring a dynamic range from ppp to fff. 

judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Grade 8


The next installment in my exploration of the new ABRSM syllabus features some of the main pieces in the Grade 8 list, along with some from the alternative syllabus.

In this post I provide an overview with notes on a selection of pieces from the list and a video preview of some highlights and tips for works by Bach, Haydn, Brahms and Bartok (click here for links to previews for other grades):

The complete video walk-throughs for the pieces featured in this video are now available on the Online Academy with further works by Schubert, Schumann and Khachaturian to follow.

Please click here to view the index of available walk-throughs if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

Online Workshops

As a complement to my Online Academy resources on the ABRSM syllabus, I am also running a series of online workshops. These workshops will cover repertoire in addition to topics such as scales, sight-reading and preparation. 

Next workshops

  • Part 4 (Grade 7) – Thurs 12th Nov @ 15:00 – 16:30 GMT (includes 4 videos) – Click here to purchase tickets
  • Part 5 (Grade 8) – Tues 17th Nov @ 19:00 – 20:30 GMT (includes 7 videos) – Click here to purchase tickets

Tickets can be purchased for individual sessions using the links provided above or you can save 20% by purchasing a combined ticket here!

If you’ve missed a session then you can still purchase tickets for a past session (or a combined ticket) to obtain access to the event recording and included resources.

Grade 8 Repertoire Overview

LIST A1

J. S. Bach: Fantasia in C minor, BWV 906 

This highly chromatic and brilliant piece featuring hand crossings and running triplets shows Bach trying his hand at the new galant and expressive styles of composition that his sons were writing in. The contrasting second theme in the relative major returns in the home key after a development of the main themes, predicting Classical sonata form. Do not be intimidated by the array of ornaments, these can be organised rhythmically based on the realisations presented in the edition. Click here to view the full video walk-through on the Online Academy.

LIST A2

Haydn: Allegro moderato (1st movt from Sonata in Ab, Hob. XVI:46) 

This sonata movement offers plenty of scope for the player to explore different dynamics, touches and expressive characterisation in the wide variety of ideas Haydn presents. There are delicate ornaments and sighing appoggiaturas in the outer sections, along with shapely scale patterns. The development section, featuring exhilarating toccata-like figuration, takes us through an unusually adventurous range of keys. Light, judicious pedalling will enhance the performance. Click here to view the full video walk-through on the Online Academy.

LIST B1

Brahms: Intermezzo in E (No. 6 from Fantasies, Op.116) 

Brahms’ late piano pieces are among his most personal and intimate music. This bittersweet, nostalgic Intermezzo is from the set of Fantasies, op. 116, completed in 1892. 

Within the progression of harmonies in the outer sections we discover interweaving melodic lines; imagine a dialogue between a violin and a viola and the different tone colours this implies. Even though the texture changes in the middle section and in the coda, this conversation continues throughout.  Click here to view the full video walk-through on the Online Academy.

LIST B (Alternative)

Chopin: Mazurka in A minor, Op.17 No. 4 

A ravishing melody floats in the air above the left hand’s meandering harmonies, creating a haunting, melancholy atmosphere. The second section invites us to a rustic dance but even though the music has now moved to the major key the colour remains dark, the bass drone keeping us grounded. The piece finishes with the same progression of chords that we heard at the start, and because Chopin does not resolve it onto the tonic chord we are left hanging in the air. Click here to view the full video walk-through on the Online Academy.

LIST B (Alternative)

Schubert: Impromptu in Ab (No. 2 from Four Impromptus, Op.142, D. 935) 

The Ab Impromptu, written the year before Schubert’s death, contrasts outer sections where we find a simple chordal texture and a gentle melody on the top with a central trio of flowing arpeggiated triplets over a rocking bass. The music explores the colour possibilities of the different registers of the piano, the stately mood of the A section leading to an impassioned climax in the trio. Chord balance and voicing, as well as control of the pedal, are necessary ingredients of a beautiful performance. 

LIST B (Alternative)

Schumann: Romanze in F# (No. 2 from Drei Romanzen, Op. 28) 

Robert Schumann’s Romance in F sharp major, op 28 no 2remains one of the composer’s best-loved short pieces for the piano. In ternary form, the mood is contemplative, serene and tender in the outer sections, somewhat turbulent and dark in the middle section. It is an ideal repertoire piece for the intermediate student. 

LIST C1

Bartók: Rondo (No.1 from Three Rondos on Folk Tunes

With his compatriot Kodály, Bartók collected folksongs from his native Hungary as well as surrounding east-European countries, introducing them into his compositions. The first Rondo contains three Slovak folksongs, the first acting as the rondo theme and the other two as episodes. This vibrant piece is full of contrasts in texture and mood, singing wistfully one moment and dancing wildly the next. Do not be a slave to the strict-looking metronome marks (Bartók was not in his own performances). Click here to view the full video walk-through on the Online Academy.

LIST C (Alternative)

Khachaturian: Toccata

Aram Khachaturian’s Toccata is surely one of the most effective showpieces for the advancing pianist. Although it looks and sounds very difficult it is actually much more approachable than you might think, with patterns that are always highly pianistic and often surprisingly simple to memorise. There is plenty of scope for narrative and imagery in this piece, the pedal bringing textures together to create a soundscape that is at times savage and barbaric, then scintillating and brooding. 

Further resources

  • Click here for more information on our ABRSM project and for links to preview videos for other grades
  • Click here for an index of available resources for the 2021 & 2022 ABRSM syllabus
  • Click here for a listing of resources for other examination boards and previous syllabi on the Online Academy
judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus Workshop & Grade 1

The next instalment in my exploration of the new ABRSM piano syllabus features video walk-throughs of all of the main pieces from the Grade 1 syllabus. The following video provides a brief preview of the type of content featured in these walk-throughs:

With this new instalment, the Online Academy’s resources for the new ABRSM syllabus now features over seventy video walk-throughs for grades 1 – 8 (with a set of videos for the Initial grade to follow very soon!).

The videos offer guidance and demonstrations for players and for teachers on style and interpretation, technique, practice method, fingering, pedalling and more (click here for links to previews for other grades).

Please click here to view the index of available walk-throughs if you are an Online Academy subscriber or click here if you’d like to to subscribe.

ABRSM syllabus - grade 1

Full Day ABRSM Workshop

Sunday, December 6th (9:00 – 5:00 GMT)

We’re delighted to be bringing you a new interactive online workshop this coming Sunday on all aspects of exam preparation from Grade 1 though to Grade 8.

The first session explores ways to keep scale and arpeggio practice creative and vibrant, offering technical suggestions as well as practice ideas. We move to a session on the aural and sight-reading tests, looking at ways to improve our results and incorporate these into lessons and the routine practice.

After a coffee break we move on to the repertoire. In two 90-minute sessions (the first featuring Grades 1-5, the second Grades 6-8) we will look at how to begin a new piece step by step, with plenty of advice on effective practice, problem solving, interpretation and creating teaching.

The last session of the day covers strategies for exam preparation, including practising a performance, the psychology of performance anxiety and how to foster a positive mental attitude. We’ll also look at how to present oneself in the exam, and how to deal with slips and errors that inevitably occur.

Throughout the day, I will respond to any questions you have about the material we are covering as well as any other exam-related issues. Included in the ticket price is access to the Online Academy’s resources for the new syllabus (70+ videos) and recordings for the sessions. Therefore you will be able to watch the recordings in your own time after the event even if you can’t make a particular session.

If you are a piano teacher, a candidate for an exam or you just want to discover more about piano practice and learning new pieces, this workshop is for you!

Click here for further information and to book your place.

judi

The New ABRSM Syllabus – Initial Grade

The final instalment in my exploration of the pieces from the new ABRSM piano syllabus is now available on the Online Academy. This features video walk-throughs for each of the main pieces for the Initial Grade, an important exam on the path to Grade 1 (where a large number of technical and musical skills are already a requirement for success).

In each of the videos, I stress the importance of developing a strong technical foundation that needs to get laid down right from the word go, at the most elementary level of piano instruction. These videos demonstrate the movements involved in the Initial grade, some of the pitfalls to avoid, and how to stimulate the imagination so that we might play with a sense of narrative. There are plenty of tips that will be helpful to the teacher and player.

The following video provides a brief preview of the type of content featured in these walk-throughs (click here for links to previews for other grades):

How to access?

Please click here to view the full videos for the Initial Grade or click here for an index of other grades if you are an Online Academy subscriber (further information about the Online Academy is available here).

The complete set of video-walkthroughs for all ABRSM grades can also be purchased separately along with recordings from our recent workshop day on the syllabus. Please click here for more information or if you have already purchased a ticket then you can access the videos by signing in to your account.

What’s next?

With the addition of the Initial Grade, I have now covered repertoire from all of the grades (over seventy pieces!) in the new syllabus. These will now be followed by:

  • General videos on scales, aural tests and exam and recital preparation
  • More walk-through videos on repertoire from other examination boards

Please be sure to sign-up for my mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for further updates and previews.

judi

Trinity Syllabus Grade 7 – Practising the Piano

The next set of videos in our guide to the Trinity College London 2021 – 23 piano examination syllabus feature six new pieces from the Trinity Grade 7 Syllabus. These complement thirteen existing videos for the intermediate grades (Grades 4-6) as well as twenty videos for works from the foundation grades (Initial – Grade 3).

Trinity Syllabus Grade 7 videos

Video Walkthroughs

In these excerpts from the full videos, I discuss pedalling, managing trills, deconstruction techniques for practising the left hand and articulation. Each video walkthrough offers plenty of tips for practice, as well as suggestions for piano teachers, and guidance on matters relating to style and interpretation. As with the previous selection, many of the works are in the public domain with links to free scores where available.

Bach – Invention 12 in A Major, BWV 783

The Two-Part Inventions of Bach were written for his son, Wilhelm Friedmann, and are as much models of compositional technique as they are studies for equal development of both hands at the keyboard. In this video excerpt, I give some tips to manage trills, mordents, and other ornaments:

Handel – Capriccio in G minor, HWV 483

This showpiece offers plenty of scope for bringing Handel’s design features to life with dynamic shaping and imaginative articulation. Have a look at this video excerpt for some ideas on how to add dynamics and articulation to this piece:

Haydn – Sonata in D Major, Hob.XVI:24 (Finale)  

This light-hearted presto is full of witty turns of phrase, not least the string of interrupted cadences toward the end. In order for a pianist not to trip up, make sure you can sustain the tempo you choose for the beginning throughout. A variety of different touches and sabs of pedal here and there will add colour and interest. In this video excerpt I show how to get the maximum effect from Haydn’s interrupted cadences:

Martinez – Sonata in E Major (1st mvt, Allegro)

This Classical period binary form movement lies comfortably under the hands. If organised rhythmically against the left hand, the ornaments will not trouble the pianist. In this video excerpt, I demonstrate a choreography that will work for many of the trills:

Hensel – Mélodie, Op. 4 No. 2

In this song without words in all but name, we find a beautiful top melody in the right hand, supported by a bass line with broken chords shared between the two hands as a harmonic filler. In this video I explore the different textures that can be found throughout the piece as well as demonstrating how to use the pedal:

Fibich – Lento (Op. 41 No. 139 from Moods, Impressions and Souvenirs)

In this gorgeous character piece by the unjustly neglected Czech composer, Fibich, it is important to be able to understand and carefully consider the different textures of the piece and how to bring them to life. The player will need to carefully consider the pedalling and accommodate the spread chords so as to catch the basses in the pedal while keeping continuity. In this video excerpt, I demonstrate some deconstruction techniques for practising the left hand:

The full videos for the repertoire selections for this and all other grades are available here via the series index on the Online Academy.

More excerpts from other grades are available on our YouTube channel or click here for videos and information for Grade 8, click here for the intermediate grades (Grades 4 – 6) or here for the foundation grades (Initial – Grade 3). Existing resources for the Trinity and previous ABRSM syllabuses can be viewed on the Online Academy here.

You can get further updates on new resources for examination syllabuses by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews.

Guide to the Trinity College Piano Syllabus

Our guide to the Trinity 2021 – 2023 piano examination features 50+ video walk-throughs of selected repertoire from Initial to Grade 8. It also includes a collection of videos on preparing for an examination offering general tips and suggestions for preparing or a piano examination, covering topics including sight-reading, aural, technical tests (scales & arpeggios), general preparation and practice strategies.

These videos form part of the Online Academy’s extensive library of over 1,000 videos and are included with a subscription from as little as £13.99 per month or £119.99 per year. The collection is also available for a separate, once-off purchase via our store for £80. Please click here to find out more about the Online Academy or click here to purchase these videos from our store.

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Trinity Syllabus Grade 8 – Practising the Piano

The final set of videos in our guide to the Trinity College London 2021 – 23 piano examination syllabus features four new pieces from the Trinity Grade 8 Syllabus. These complement two existing videos for Grade 8 with a total of over fifty works now covered for works from the initial grade up to Grade 8.

 Trinity Syllabus Grade 8 resources added

Video Walkthroughs

In these excerpts from the full videos, I discuss jumps in Joplin, pedalling in Bach, left-hand repeated chords in Czerny and share a neat practice tip for mastering the irregular rhythms in a work by Bartók! Each of the full video walkthroughs offers plenty of tips for practice, as well as suggestions for piano teachers, and guidance on matters relating to style and interpretation. As with the previous selection, many of the works are in the public domain with links to free scores where available.

Bach – Prelude & Fugue in E Major, BWV 854 (No. 9 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)

Many players are confused by the subject of pedalling in Bach. Should we use it, or should we avoid it? While it is certainly true that none of Bach’s keyboard instruments had any type of device to sustain the sound after the finger left the key, piano sound without pedal can also sound dry and academic sounding. Learning the piece with no pedal at first until we have found the best sound is suggested. After this, add short, shallow dabs of pedal in those places where we feel the need for some extra resonance or colour.

In this excerpt, I demonstrate how to use pedal in Bach’s music and looks at some possibilities for articulation in the E Major Prelude from Book 1 of the Well Tempered Klavier:

Bartok – No. 2 from Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm

The 2nd piece in Béla Bartók’s Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm, from Mikrokosmos, Book 6, features an unusual time signature – 2+2+3/8 (effectively 7/8). In this excerpt, I demonstrate how you can use scales to get the feeling for this irregular meter and enliven your scale practice at the same time!

Czerny – Feodora (from Album élégant des dames pianistes, Op. 804)

How can the perfect singing style and creating magic from our percussion instrument be achieved? A clingy legato at the bottoms of the keys goes some way to describing the mechanics involved, but we need to start off by actually singing the line until we have found its shape and meaning.

In this excerpt, I show how to create a beautiful singing line in the right hand as well as how to play repeated chords and notes both accurately and freely in this fun piece by Czerny:

Joplin – The Cascades

Scott Joplin insisted his rags should not be played too fast. Even at a moderate tempo, the stride left hand parts pose the challenge of how to move from the lower octaves to the higher chords accurately. Fortunately, there are proven ways to practise this technique so that we can automate the motions involved, which then become second nature.

In this excerpt, I discuss a practice tool I like to call “springboarding” which can be applied to any jump. Once mastered, it is much easier to move effortlessly and accurately from one position on the keyboard to another:

The full videos for the repertoire selections for this and all other grades are available here via the series index on the Online Academy.

More excerpts from other grades are available on our YouTube channel or click here for videos and information for Grade 7, click here for the intermediate grades (Grades 4 – 6) or here for the foundation grades (Initial – Grade 3). Existing resources for the Trinity and previous ABRSM syllabuses can be viewed on the Online Academy here.

You can get further updates on new resources for examination syllabuses by signing up for our mailing list here and subscribing to our YouTube channel for additional video previews.

Guide to the Trinity College Piano Syllabus

Our guide to the Trinity 2021 – 2023 piano examination features 50+ video walk-throughs of selected repertoire from Initial to Grade 8. It also includes a collection of videos on preparing for an examination offering general tips and suggestions for preparing or a piano examination, covering topics including sight-reading, aural, technical tests (scales & arpeggios), general preparation and practice strategies.

These videos form part of the Online Academy’s extensive library of over 1,000 videos and are included with a subscription from as little as £13.99 per month or £119.99 per year. The collection is also available for a separate, once-off purchase via our store for £80. Please click here to find out more about the Online Academy or click here to purchase these videos from our store.