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19/09/2020

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Grade 8 ABRSM Piano Teaching Notes 2021 2022

Jingo - Christopher Norton

Grade 8 ABRSM Piano 2021 2022 C2




The direction “Marcato” at the beginning should set the tone as to how you should approach this piece. Accents abound and should be observed strictly. For example at the very beginning, notice the off-beat accents in bar 2. In bars 7 and 8, these accents are applied independently to the right hand, so be careful here that the left hand is kept a little lighter.

Take care also with the lengths of notes. The section from bars 12-14 is heavily pedalled, but be sure to pick out the odd staccato note that is not pedalled. Again in the second half of bar 15, the staccato applies to the right hand ONLY, so watch that the last left hand octave chord is longer than the notes above.

If you find the page turn problematic, try memorising the last three bars before the turn although from the video performance above it can be seen that a page turn at the very end of the page is just about possible.

Bar 21 requires a lighter touch and watch carefully here the exactly notation of the slurs. Some very precise pedalling will be needed in bars 27 and 28, being careful again to observe the isolated staccato notes.

Probably the most difficult part of this piece is the last two notes, with the very fast jumps of varying distances in each hand. As with most of the piece, metronome practice will be very useful here as you build up muscle memory, not only in the fingers but also the arm movements for the jumps. The same might be said for the jumps throughout the piece, where it IS POSSIBLE to build a good sense of “piano geography” without having to look down at your hands.

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30/08/2020

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NEW Online ABRSM Theory Exams

NEW Online ABRSM Theory Exams

Everything you need to know


ABRSM are gradually transitioning their theory exams from the old paper based exams to online ones, starting with the online Grade 5 pilot on 26 August 2020 in the UK and rolling out to all countries during 2021. There will be another online session in November  for UK, India, Singapore, Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta, Russia and Slovakia. 

What is changing: Exam Format.


  • There are new question types including more multiple-choice.

  • The requirement to demonstrate accurate copying of music has been removed. 

  • There will be a total of 75 marks available rather than 100 marks. Candidates will need 50 marks for a Pass, 60 marks for a Merit and 65 marks for a Distinction.

What is changing: Syllabus

  • Grade 2: candidates currently have a choice of the harmonic or melodic form of minor scales. This is changing to harmonic.

  • Grade 3: questions about phrase structure are no longer included.

  • Grade 5: identifying the progression 6/4 5/3 (Ic-V) on the dominant note in any of the keys set for this grade is no longer be required.

  • Grade 5: the requirement that candidates can recognise and name perfect, plagal and imperfect cadences has been added. Currently candidates have to indicate suitable chord progressions for two cadences – now they have to name those cadences.

  • The number of terms and signs has been reduced.
A list of the new terms needed for grades 1-5 ABRSM Theory
A list of the Theory signs needed for Grades 1 and 2 ABRSM Theory from 2020

You can find downloadable PDF of this table  as well as  some sample papers for the new style exams HERE

09/07/2020

New ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2021 2022 - What has changed?

The New ABRSM Piano Syllabus is out today and here I want to just point out some of the major differences between the old and the new.

First of all the list structure is different. Rather than being based on the old style of List A being usually baroque / classical, List B invariably Romantic and List C the more modern pieces, now

  • List A pieces are generally faster moving and require technical agility
  • List B pieces are more lyrical and invite expressive playing
  • List C pieces reflect a wide variety of musical traditions, styles and characters.
At Grades Initial–3, there are opportunities to play duets. 

The biggest changes however are in the scales as I have outlined below

Grade 1
SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
C major 1 oct. hands together
G, F majors 2 oct. hands separately
A, D minors (natural or harmonic or melodic, at candidate’s
choice)

C major contrary motion

ARPEGGIOS
C major / A minor 1 oct. hands separately

Main differences: broken chords have gone and have been replaced with a one octave arpeggio.

New one octave hands together scale of C major has been added

D major has disappeared


Grade 2

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
G, F majors / A, D minors 2 oct. hands together
D, A, majors / E and G minors 2 oct. hands separately
Note : minor scales can be natural or harmonic or melodic, at candidate’s choice.

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE

C major 2 oct. hands beginning on the tonic in unison

CHROMATIC SCALE
beginning on D 1 oct. hands separately

ARPEGGIOS
D, A, majors / E and G minors 2 oct. hands separately

Main differences: again no broken chords and only some of the easier scales are hands together

Grade 3

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
D, A, majors / E, G minors 2 oct. hands together
Bb, Eb majors / B, C minors 2 oct. hands separately
(minors - harmonic or melodic, at candidate’s choice)

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
E major 2 oct. hands beginning on the tonic in unison

CHROMATIC SCALE (SIMILAR MOTION)
beginning on Ab 2 oct. hands separately

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE
beginning on D 1 oct.

ARPEGGIOS
D, A, majors / E, G minors 2 oct. hands together
Bb, Eb majors / B, C minors 2 oct. hands separately

Main differences: As before the easier scales, i.e. those that were the harder ones in grade 2 and hands separately are hands together, and the new harder scales for this grade are hands separately. 

The E major contrary motion that was Grade 2 is now Grade 3, and the contrary motion chromatic that was Grade 5 has now moved to this Grade

Grade 4
SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION) LEGATO
Bb, Eb majors / B, C minors 2 oct. hands together.
B, F#, Ab majors / F#, F minors 2 oct. hands separately
(Minors - harmonic or melodic, at candidate’s choice)

STACCATO SCALE (SIMILAR MOTION)
C major 2 oct staccato, hands separately

CHROMATIC SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
beginning on F# 2 oct. hands together

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
Eb major / C minor 2 oct.

ARPEGGIOS
Bb, Eb majors / B, C minors 2 oct. hands together.
B, F#, Ab majors / F#, F minors 2 oct. hands separately

DOMINANT SEVENTH (resolving on tonic - See video below)

Main differences: The principle of the harder separate hands scales from the previous grade becoming the easier hands together scales in this grade continues but also now extends to the arpeggios. Also Db major has been replaced with F sharp major, a grade earlier than the old syllabus.

Grade 5
SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION) - LEGATO
A, E, B, F#, Db majors / F#, C#, G#, Eb, Bb minors
2 oct. hands together (Minors - harmonic or melodic, at candidate’s choice)

STACCATO SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
Ab majors / F minors 2 oct staccato, hands separately

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
Db major / C# harmonic minors 2 oct.

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE
beginning on F# LH and A# RH: 2 oct.

ARPEGGIOS
A, E, B, F#, Db majors / F#, C#, G#, Eb, Bb minors

DIMINISHED SEVENTH
beginning on B: 2 oct. hands separately

Main differences: You no longer need to prepare the complete cycle of fifths major and minor, there are only five majors and five minors. Staccato scales are introduced a grade earlier than currently as is a diminished 7th and all scales are now 2 octaves instead of the three in the old syllabus
Grade 6
SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION) LEGATO or STACCATO
D, F, Ab, B majors / D, F, G#, B minors 4 oct. hands together
(Minors now need to be harmonic and melodic)

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
D, F, Ab, B majors / D, F, G#, B minors 2 oct. legato

CHROMATIC SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION) LEGATO or STACCATO
beginning on G#, B, 4 oct. hands together

ARPEGGIOS
D, F, Ab, B majors / D, F, G#, B minors 4 oct. hands together

DOMINANT SEVENTHS (resolving on tonic)
in the keys of D, F, Ab, B 4 oct. hands together

DIMINISHED SEVENTHS
beginning on G#, B 4 oct. hands separately

Main differences: all similar motion scales major / minor and chromatic now can be legato or staccato. Dominant 7ths resolving on the tonic
Grade 7
SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION) - Legato or staccato
Db, E, G, Bb majors C#, E, G, Bb minors
(harmonic and melodic)
4 oct. hands together

SCALES A 3RD APART - Legato or staccato
Db, E, G, Bb majors C#, E, G, Bb minors
4 oct. legato

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES - Legato or staccatoDb, E, G, Bb majors C#, E, G, Bb minors

LEGATO SCALE IN 3RDS
G major 2 oct legato, hands separately

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
beginning on C# (LH) and E (RH) 2 oct. legato

ARPEGGIOS
Db, E, G, Bb majors C#, E, G, Bb minors
4 oct. legato, hands together 1st inversion only

DOMINANT SEVENTHS (resolving on tonic)
Db, E, G, Bb majors C#, E, G, Bb minors
4 oct. legato, hands together

DIMINISHED SEVENTHS
beginning on Bb, E 4 oct. legato, hands together

Main differences: There are a lot less keys involved, there is a new single hand legato scale in 3rds and all arpeggios are 1st inversion only
Grade 8
SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
C, E, F#, A majors and minors
4 oct. legato and staccato; hands together and separately
(Minors - harmonic and melodic)

SCALES A 6TH APART
C, E, F#, A majors and minors
4 oct. legato and staccato

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE
C, E, F#, A majors and minors
2 oct. legato and staccato

LEGATO SCALES IN 3RDS
Eb majors 2 oct legato, hands separately

STACCATO SCALES IN 6THS
C major

CHROMATIC SCALES A MAJOR 6TH APART
Beginning on Eb (LH) and C (RH) legato and staccato

WHOLE-TONE SCALES
beginning on Eb and C
4 oct. legato or staccato, hands together

ARPEGGIOS
C, E, F#, A majors and minors 4 oct. legato, hands together 2nd inversion only.

DOMINANT SEVENTHS (resolving on tonic)
in the keys of C, E, F#, A 4 oct. legato, hands together

DIMINISHED SEVENTHS
beginning on Eb and C 4 oct. legato, hands together

Main differences: Again a lot less keys involved, a new chromatic scale in 6ths an extra whole tone scale and the arpeggios are in 2nd inversion only