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New Photo ID Requirement for UK Exams

According to a recent notification sent out to teachers in the UK, the ABRSM are introducing a new "Candidate Identification Policy" from January 2020. 

This will be required for those taking many of the higher level exams i.e:
Practical Exams - Grades 6-8
Jazz exams - Grade 5
Theory Exams Grades 5-8
ARSM diploma
 I assume the thinking behind this is to combat cheating. It is possible, for example to get someone else to do an exam for you, although the value of this seems to be illogical. Maybe the reason for using it in just the higher grades is that they are used for UCAS points for university entry and some less scrupulous students might try to cheat the system that way. 

By the way, the unusual inclusion of the Grade 5 Jazz exam would seem to be that it is an alternative to Grade 5 Theory as a prerequisite to doing Grades 6-8 Practical.

So, because of the unethical actions of a very small minority, there will an extra burden placed on the vast majority, not only with an extra layer of red tape, but also financially. 

From my own teaching experience, the majority of my students are under 18 and many do not have any form of photo ID. There will be many of course with passports, but that seems to discriminate against those who don't. There are optional ID cards available such as from, but this service costs an extra £15 on top of the already expensive exam fees.

Additionally, this process is not as easy as it sounds as they require two documents, one of which should  confirm your name and address, ie utility bill/bank statement/government issued letter such as HMRC or DWP/NHS letter. 
How many 12 year olds have a gas bill or tax letter in their name???
From my research, I note that this requirement is already in place in a few countries that offer ABRSM exams, such as Hong Kong and Malaysia, but there, minors already need to carry some form of photo id from the age of 12. 

At this moment in time, the exact form of ID has not been specified by the ABRSM and they will be publishing more details later in the year. Rest assured that I will keep you up to date on any developments and so that you don't miss the news you can subscribe to future posts on this blog with the form below

So what your your thoughts on this new requirement? An unnecessary layer of bureaucracy or a necessary step to stop a minority of those who would cheat the system? Please leave a comment below.


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Allegro Moderato - Schubert - Grade 8 ABRSM Piano B3 - MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes

Sonata in E - D. 459 -1st movement - Allegro Moderato

Franz Schubert

Grade 8 Piano 
ABRSM 2019/2020 B3 / AMEB  Series 17  B4

Teaching Notes

One of the first things to notice is the tempo marking - Allegro Moderato. There are many performances available on YouTube for example which seem to miss the second word in this direction. There needs to be enough space to explore Schubert's beautiful melodies which is not possible at a "break-neck" speed.

He is also very specific and detailed in his notation of dynamics and articulation. Every marking is there for a purpose so take time to understand why each is there.

The following are some details that might easily be missed:
Bars 2, 4, 6 etc - Observe the crotchet rest in the LH.

Bars 7 - Lift the last note of each triplet group.

In general, it would be correct to pedal much of this movement, but be careful to not blur harmonies, for example bar 6 would need a change of pedal every beat.

The section starting at bar 21 uses many "four note slurs" which need separation one from another, so if you are using pedal here, make sure it releases on the last note of each slurred group.

When the alberti bass semiquavers start at bar 33, always keep them as light as possible, never obscuring the RH melody.

For the big cadence in bars 43 & 47, although the general dynamic is quite loud, be sure to lean more on the first chord and slightly lighten the second chord.

In the development section (bar 54 onwards), keep the repeated notes as soft as possible. If the melody is marked pp then this accompaniment should be ppp.

At bar 62, although there are block ff chords, try to bring out the melody by leaning on the 1st, 3rd and 4th beats.

Another "hidden" melody to bring out is the rising middle parts in bars 72-77, alternating between LH and RH.

Much of what has been mentioned above applies to the recapitulation from bar 80, the music being basically a repeat of the opening "exposition" but in different keys.


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Weekly Aural Training for ABRSM exams from MusicOnline UK

E Aural Trainer has become a very popular method of training for the Aural Tests of the ABRSM exams, but obviously the more practice you can get, the more you will feel prepared. With this in mind, Patrons of MusicOnline UK can get a weekly Audio Track to practice their Aural Skills which will cover all grades and a different aspect of the Aural Tests every week.

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Weekly Aural Tests for ABRSM from MusicOnline UK

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YouTube's content ID system gone CRAZY

So in the continuing saga of copyright issues, I recently received the following message on a video of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata on my other channel:
Copyrighted content was found in your video.
The claimant is allowing their content to be used in your YouTube video. However, ads might appear on it.
...which is obviously ridiculous. The work is in the public domain being 70 years after the composer's death and if you compare the two videos below, apart from being the same piece, the audio nowhere near matches (see if you can play them both simultaneously). The basic tempo is similar, but with rubato touches in different places, articulation variations as well as a completely different tone. Oh, and did I mention that my video was published over two years before the one I am supposed to have copied. Maybe I have a time machine.......

So dispute filed against the misidentification with YouTube - lets see if the automated system can learn from its mistakes.


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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