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ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 8 A2 - MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes

Sonata in D - Kp 214

Domenico Scarlatti

Grade 8 Piano ABRSM 2019/2020 A2

Teaching Notes

One of the first things you may notice with this piece, is that (at least in the ABRSM edition), there are no dynamic markings. However, the examiner will be looking out for your creativity by adding some dynamics to your performance. The music itself, suggests quite obviously at times, where these should be. Bars 4 and 5 for example are an exact repeat of bars 2 and 3 and so an "echo effect" here would be stylish. Be careful however, that the phrases in this piece often start on the third quaver of the beat and so your changes in dynamics should reflect this. If you need inspiration, listen to the above performance and pencil in your copy any dynamic changes you hear. These are open to interpretation, so also feel free to experiment, noting that changes from this period of music tend to be "stepped" or "terraced", i.e. sudden not gradual.

The next thing to consider is the articulation. Very few "slur markings" are to be found. Indeed, even the ones shown in the ABRSM edition are editorial suggestions only and the performance above on occasions varies from these. In general a note that is a discord on the beat that then resolves in the 3rd quaver of that beat, should be slurred onto that 3rd quaver. For example, those slurs marked in bars 6-9. However, later on there are similarly printed slurs that are not  resolved discords (e.g. bars 37-40) and you will notice that the above performance omits these slurs in general. In order to give a forward momentum and dance like feel, you will notice, that apart from those discords just mentioned - there is a slur of the first two quavers of the beat with the 3rd quaver separated from its adjacent notes. Again, this is not gospel - the above video is just one interpretation and your inner creativity may feel it differently.

Regarding the ornaments, at speed the suggested triplet works well, but make sure that this is  on  the beat, not before and also that they flow without hesitation onto the next note. Some slow metronome practice in the sections where both hands play ornaments together (e.g. bars 6-9), may be beneficial.

Finally, you may have noticed in the above performance, some re-assignment of the hands to what is written in the ABRSM edition. The slurred resolution of discords mentioned earlier are written one note in each hand. This works fine for the first one in bar 6, but becomes slightly clumsy and awkward for the next two in bar 7 where it is suggested to slide your thumb from one note to the next. Far easier and equally acceptable would be to take both these notes in the RH in each case.

Aternative fingering to ABRSM edition


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Pot calling the kettle black.

Alan Chan YouTube Channel plagiarizes other users content

So, a little aside from my usual type of post, today excuse me for ranting a little about a certain channel which has become nothing less than a nuisance to serious music students on YouTube.

A little while ago, you may remember a copyright dispute that I had with Alan Chan, (without going into detail here you find out more HERE)

Anyway, moving on....

I recently came across another of 
Alan Chan's videos, 
ABRSM Violin 2020-2023 Grade 7 C1 Bridge Moto Perpetuo Three Dances H.4 No.3 Sheet Music
...which I found surprisingly well played. I say surprisingly, because it was way beyond his standard of violin playing.

Then I dug a little further to find that he had simply copied the audio from someone else's video and added sheet music. 

Have a listen to these two examples and let me know if you think they are one and the same audio.

Alan Chan's Video

Duo Deconet's Video

Having contacted the original channel "Duo Deconet", their reply was as follows,

Hi , Duo Deconet has not authorized any download of our videos to anyone. Alan Chan does not have permission or any concession to use our audios in his websites. This has been reported to head office. Duo Deconet is based in the Hills District in Sydney too... He would need to delete his video if he wants to keep his account open and learn how to play it himself.
The crazy thing about this is that Alan Chan, himself tried to make a Copyright claim against myself, even though the source that I used in the alleged claim was marked at the time "Creative Commons - Re-use allowed"

OK - rant over. Thanks for taking the time to read and let's concentrate on producing quality content in the hope that it eventually will overcome the mass produced, sub-standard monopoly that currently is offered to music students on YouTube.

UPDATE: Alan Chan's video has been removed since this post was originally written. 

If you spot any other plagiarized content, let's clean up the platform and leave a comment below and we'll investigate. 


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ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 5 C1 - MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes


Witold Lutoslawski

Grade 5 Piano ABRSM 2019/2020 C1

Teaching Notes

The best place to start learning this piece is the final vivace. This brilliant finish will need extra practice, so if you start learning this first you can confident of secure finish, rather than leaving the hardest part to the end, thus giving it the least practice.

As you work through the piece, pay careful attention to the exact dynamics and articulation. Often the dynamics are sudden changes for just one bar (bars 16-18) and other times involve a very quick crescendo (bar 24). Making good contrasts will give this piece character and earn you credit in the exam. Regarding the articulation, apart from the fact that very often a staccato in one hand is against a longer note in the other hand, make sure the tenuto notes are long, but NOT legato.Also notice that a lot of these tenuto notes have accents on them, a characteristic of this piece where the emphasis is frequently on the 2nd beat rather than the first.

In the meno mosso section, note the staccato dots under a slur in the RH. These should be "semi-staccato", separated, but note too short. The LH could afford a legato line here, but for a perfect legato, you'll need a different fingering to the one in the book (see video above). Also this section could benefit from an extra ritardando (not printed ) up to the pause. Then notice the little comma after the pause before the Tempo I. There should be a brief moment of silence here, a breath if you like.

Overall, the strictness and accuracy of the details mentioned above should convey that discipline and attention to detail expected by the inspiration for this piece, a stern old style schoolmaster who demands nothing but perfection. 


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ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 8 C5 - MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes


Serge Rachmaninoff

Grade 8 Piano ABRSM 2019/2020 C5

The above video and following teaching notes are done in collaboration with Nourskean1039 (Check out their channel HERE)

Teaching Notes

First I think it is very important to  be conscious  that Rachmaninov is not Chopin, so not to be played in the style of Chopin. 

The 3 first bars have a different signification each one. 
  • The first bar is to introduce the piece. 
  • The second bar is to confirm the first, like an " echo".. so a little less louder. 
  • The 3rd bar is for preparing the first note in the right hand.. so the melody line opens at the end ..
One has to be aware that the dramatic character in the left hand is not necessarily expressed by a slow tempo, but through the way one conveys the score as it is written, by making the melody in the left hand swell and unswell . The left hand has to be most " legato" possible

At 1:58, the melody in the left hand has to be heard clearly, as well as the melody in the middle section in the right hand at 4:11 

And do not forget to prepare the last bars !

Finally I would say that the pedal work has to breathe in harmony with the interpretation..

Additional Notes by MusicOnline UK
You'll need a lot of lateral freedom, which will be aided by  good feeling for the geography of the keyboard using 2nd and 3rd fingers as pivots as you travel from left to right and back again. 

Being aware of the different layers and voicing the tune is essential for a musical performance such as the opening RH melody and that of the LH in the piu vivo section.

In the appassionato climax of bars 70-82, there are actually 3 layers, leading with the RH melody, then the "bell like" lower octaves in the LH and finally the supporting quaver chords. Note they are supporting - not overpowering.

Note also that the full dynamic range is used in this piece, from ppp - fff.


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Happy Day - Grade 1 ABRSM Piano - Student Appraisal

The video below is a Student Appraisal of "Happy Day" for Grade 1 ABRSM Piano, by Dennis, one of the members of our MusicOnline UK community. But before I give my comments, have a listen and see how many marks out of 30 YOU think it is worth.


You set off at a lively tempo (perhaps a shade faster than the suggested metronome mark) but all the, you captured the “Happy” mood of this piece and swing rhythms were well controlled.

There was an effective use of dynamics which gave a nice contrast on the 3rd line, but here, try to make the difference between the LH crotchets that have no staccato marking and those that do. For example, the first chord of bars 9, 10 and 11 should release exactly on the 2nd beat, but the last chord in each case could have a slightly more bouncy staccato.

There was a slight rhythmic inaccuracy in bars 11 and 12. The last RH note (tied A) needs to start before the beat (you played it on the beat) and then the LH comes in on the exact beginning of the next bar (12) - you made it a quaver coming in half way through the 1st beat.

On the 4th line the similar chords from the 3rd line suddenly became much longer, almost a full three beats, maybe because this section is louder, so effectively you lost the LH rests on this line completely.

Finally a well observed long middle G in the last bar, maybe you could afford to slow down a little more.
Expected mark for this performance 26 marks.