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13/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - B1

The Reef (No. 5 from in Southern Seas)

Walter Carroll.

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.





Teaching Notes


One of the things an examiner will award marks for, is when your performance conveys the style and character of the piece. "The Reef" is a very dramatic composition, so will need big contrast of dynamics. To achieve a strong fortissimo, try to use the weight of your arm, not being afraid to come away from the keys a little in the opening chords. As you leap off each chord, land ahead of time on the following chord, thus making the big changes of position easier. However, not only the fortissimo but also, the quieter sections need noting. The crescendo/decrescendo patterns in bars 5-8 & 15-18, need to be very wide ranging to imitate the crashing of the ocean waves against the Reef.

There are many staccato markings in this piece, which strangely are at the same time as pedal markings, which effectively "neutralizes" any staccato effect. Therefore, the purpose of these markings is to indicate the type of touch needed, rather than the acoustic effect achieved. However, be careful at the end of bar 10, the last beat is not pedalled and so these notes will sound staccato. You may also have noticed in the above video performance a slight ritardando in this bar.

In bars 19 & 20, there is yet another kind of articulation, that is slurs with staccato dots and these should be played separated but not too short.

Finally, notice that the last 4 bars should be a little slower.



07/08/2018

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06/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - A3

Petit Jeu

Georg Philipp Telemann.

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.



Teaching Notes


First of all, notice the title of this piece. It translates as "Little Game" and so your aim should be to make this piece sound playful.


LH quavers are lightly detached throughout, in keeping with the style of music from this period. Also notice, that all dynamics and articulation marks are editorial. Feel free to be creative with dynamics, but as you do so, remember that music from this period uses stepped or terraced dynamics. It might be an idea to make  any changes on the half bar, that is after three quavers, which is where phrases start and finish. Play this video again and see if you can notice any variations from the ABRSM edition.


Talking of the starts of phrases, notice that this piece starts with a three quaver upbeat. Try not to make the notes in this "part bar" too heavy, (despite the editorial forte marking), but rather lead them into the first beat of the first complete bar, which is where the  natural accent should lie.


03/08/2018

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MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes - ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 4 - A1

Bagatelle in C

Ludwig van Beethoven.

ABRSM Grade 4 Piano 2019/2020.



Teaching Notes

The major section of this Bagatelle, poses a challenge in achieving a good legato. The official ABRSM Teaching Notes  for this piece suggest, pedalling between each quaver beat may help maintain the legato, but the tempo for this section is quite fast and especially at Grade 4 level it might cause more messiness than help. In any case, it would be a good idea to practice a good legato fingering initially WITHOUT pedal to start. Some notes are impossible to make legato between successive chords, such as when there are repeated notes, but the technique is to lift those notes which are repeated and make the rest of the chord legato.


This page will be a resource for students and teachers taking the ABRSM Piano Exams 2019-2020, including audio samples, teaching notes and video tutorials.

Get the Official ABRSM Teaching Notes HERE

Another thing to bear in mind is that the dynamics are editorial suggestions only. You may have noticed that the video performance above uses different dynamics to those printed in the ABRSM Grade 4 book. Have a listen again if you didn't catch this the first time. For example, I played bars 5 and 6 piano returning to a mezzo forte in bar 9. Feel free to experiment, the examiner will give credit for creativity that is in keeping with the style and character of the piece.
In the minor, middle section, always be sure to keep the LH quieter than and just supporting the RH. This tonal control will also help achieve a good mark in the exam.

Finally, notice again in the performance above, that the tempo is not always strict. There is often an easing of the tempo towards the ends of phrases. As before, listen again and see if you can spot this.



30/06/2018

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ABRSM Misprint?

If you are learning Blues in the Attic from the ABRSM Grade 3 2019/2020 Syllabus then read this.


Do you see what I see? The triplet quavers at the end of the bar would mean that the RH part of this bar has only three and a half beats (the piece is in 4/4 time). When I first noticed this, I decided to phone the ABRSM to let them know it was a misprint, or so I thought. Within a few hours they got back to me stating that the part was in fact, correct. The digit "3" under the group of quavers was actually a fingering, not a triplet marking. Well the notation here is at least ambiguous, so much so, that I'm sure many would read it as a triplet, indeed the number one result in a YouTube search for this piece, at the time of posting this, (a channel I would not recommend by the way, for students looking for good example performances), plays this three quaver group as a triplet. 

However, we now have it on good authority that they are just three normal quavers and so in fact there is no misprint. As a guide for the future, I decided to look through other pieces from the syllabus and found that all other triplet markings are in fact in a different type face, that is italicised. So if you ever want to know if a digit is a fingering or some kind of tuplet, fingerings are always in normal type face, tuplets are always in an italic type face.

Please share this article with anyone either teaching or studying this piece as I am sure it will be a common area for ambiguity.

For a hear how this piece should be performed and a fuller tutorial please watch the video below.


             

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