Search This Site

20/04/2019

10,000 SUBS (nearly), FREE Skype Lesson and more.....

So it's the Easter break here in the UK and despite the fact that school's out, there are 3 exciting things happening here on MusicOnline UK

1. Many of you may well have recently taken an exam. On our MusicOnline UK WhatsApp group, there have been many happy students sharing their results and by the way, just in case you were unaware, we are holding a "High Scorer's Top Ten" competition and the results of this will be announced next Sunday. There is still time until this Wednesday, 24th April,  if you would like to participate just upload a scan of your marksheet to the group HERE.



2. The title of this post mentions a FREE Skype Lesson and this is another competition I'm offering to celebrate the fact that in the next week or so, the MusicOnline UK YouTube Channel will pass 10,000 subscribers. To be in with a chance of winning you will need to take a screenshot of the live subscriber counter shown below when it shows exactly 10,000 subscribers and then email me at musiconlineuk@gmail.com with your screenshot to arrange a FREE 30 minute Skype lesson on Piano, Aural or Music Theory.



3. MusicOnline UK has nearly reached 50 Patrons, 46 to be precise and my pledge is to run a private monthly livestream which will be a Q and A on any music related topic, just for Patrons. This is in addition to all the Premium Content, such as the E Aural Trainer Videos, FREE eBooks like the full version of "How to get a Distinction at ABRSM" and access to our Members only WhatsApp Group which is separate from the public group I mentioned earlier. This is normally only $2 / month but the next four new Patrons can get it for only $1 / month... and this will be at the same discounted rate for the life of your patronage, but you'll need to hurry as at the time of posting there are only four of these places left.
Become a Patron!

12/04/2019

Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl

ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 3 C2 - MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes

Diversion.
Richard Rodney Bennett.
Grade 3 Piano ABRSM 2019/2020 C2.



Teaching Notes


First of all, note the composer's marking "Giocoso". The tempo must be lively enough to convey the joyful mood of this piece. Although Richard Rodney Bennett prescribes a metronome mark of crotchet = 80, note that in the footnote of the ABRSM edition, it mentions that crotchet = 72 would be suitable for examination purposes.

One of the main things that will bring out the character of this piece is careful articulation. Notice precisely where notes are marked slurred or staccato, remembering that the last note of any slurred group, should always be lifted. It might be tempting to make certain notes staccato where they are not written, for example the first quaver of bars 6, 15 and 31.

Also make sure the bass A of bars 15 and 18 is a light staccato, in what is otherwise a more legato section.

You will need to be careful of the timing in bars 24-25. It would be very easy here to chop the long note a bar short.

The legato 3rds in the LH of bar 37 will need extra care especially since the first top A, is repeated immediately in the RH and so will need to be lifted a fraction earlier without losing the legato effect.

Pay attention to the dynamic shaping, especially the subtle up and down waves from bars 17-22.

Finally, a really polished performance will require you to be aware of the phrasing. So, for example, there should be a breath between bars 11 and 12, it should not be a legato join between these two bars and in general a slight lean on the first quaver of each bar will help this delightful piece dance along as the composer intended.

28/03/2019

Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl

ABRSM Piano 2019/20 Grade 6 B3 - MusicOnline UK Teaching Notes

Scherzo in B flat, (No.1 from Two Scherzos, D593).
Franz Schubert.
Grade 6 Piano ABRSM 2019/2020 B3.





Teaching Notes


The first thing to note in order to achieve a good performance, is the title itself. "Scherzo" implies something playful and you need to explore the humorous moments of this piece. Generally, the dynamic level is soft and will require a light touch, but there are some dramatic contrasts, such as the fortissimo of bar 13. 

Grace notes should be played  on the beat with a cheeky little bite to accentuate their discordant nature. Likewise, lean a little heavier (always in the context of piano) on the dissonances such as the first beats of bars 4, 8 and 12 etc.

A touch of pedal on the first two beats of bar 14 (and later in bar 48), will not only make the legato easier on the descending arpeggio, but will add richness to the bolder texture at this point.

Notice the fortepiano of bar 17, is NOT repeated in the following bar, which should be treated as an echo of the previous.

In bars 21-23, be extra careful which notes are legato and which are detached as it frequently swaps between the two.

Aim for a dramatic crescendo up to ffz  in bar 31, possibly easing off the dynamic a little earlier than the marked "decresc".

There should be no problem with the page turn, due to the pause in bar 36, so take time to change gear back into the opening playful mood after the drama of the preceding bars.

The Trio section needs a complete change of mood, it is much more legato and calm. Turns should always be graceful and elegant, never sounding rushed. Also be very attentive to the lengths of notes which frequently overlap. For example, in bar 51, the three LH notes should all be sounding by the end of the bar, but in bar 52, the top D of the LH releases on the third beat. Similarly, make sure to observe the rest of the RH in bar 54.

Another point of interest, is the incessant B flat note in the LH, on the 2nd beat of the majority of bars in this trio section. It seems this was by design, rather than by accident, as Schubert even puts an accent on it, wanting this menacing repeated note (amongst the contrasting calm) to stand out.

Besure to do the page turn back to the Da Capo  in your practice, (even if just for the first few bars) as it is not unknown in an exam for students to stop at the end of the Trio, just out of habit, because they never bother going back in their practice.

17/03/2019

Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl
Textual description of firstImageUrl

ABRSM Piano Scales are changing - for the better or the worse?

According to the ABRSM’s official website there will soon be new scale requirements for piano exams of all grade. This post will discuss the proposed changes and when they are happening.

After reading about the proposed changes, I would be interested to see what you think, so please leave a comment below.

Just over a year ago the ABRSM published a consultation with experts and teachers and they are proposing to change the scale requirements for all grades from 2021. This consultation is still ongoing but I recently came across a PDF of the proposals. Please note that these are not in their final form, only a proposal, but I will keep you updated as things become clearer, so subscribe to blog posts, with this form, if you want to stay informed

Never miss a post from MusicOnline UK
* indicates required





Grade 1 proposals

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)

ARPEGGIOS
C major / A minor  1 oct. hands separately

BROKEN CHORDS
F major / D minor  hands separately, as current Grade 1 pattern

• A one-octave similar-motion scale has been introduced, in place of the contrary-motion.• One octave hands-separately arpeggios have been included.
• The D major scale has been removed and the number of
broken chords has been reduced.


Grade 2 proposals

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
G, F majors / A, D minors  2 oct. hands together
D, A, E 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
C major / 
A minor  2 oct. hands separately

BROKEN CHORDS
G major / 
E minor hands separately, same pattern as for Grade 1 (in 6/8) 

• This establishes the principle where scales that were introduced hands separately in Grade 1 that is G and F major and A and D minor become hands together
while the new scale keys D, A, E major and E and G minor are introduced hands separately.• C major, having already been covered hands together at Grade 1, becomes a contrary-motion scale here.
• Arpeggios introduced in Grade 1 are extended to two octaves here but still hands separately and there will be less of them than currently.• Broken chords continue with the Grade 1 pattern (in 6/8). Not the four note patterns currently used.

Grade 3 Proposals

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)

D, A, F majors / 
E, G minors   2 oct. hands together B, 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
F major / 
A, D minors  2 oct. hands together
D, E, B, Eb majors / 
G, C minors  2 oct. hands separately
  • As before, the scales that were introduced hands separately in the previous grade become hands together while the new scale keys are introduced hands separately.
  • A contrary-motion chromatic scale is introduced, a grade earlier than in the current syllabus.


Grade 4 Proposals

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)  LEGATO 
G, D, A, B, Bb, Eb majors / A, B, D, G, C minors  2 oct.  hands together. 
Ab, Db majors / F#, C#, 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

RUSSIAN SCALES (See video below)
C, E majors  2 oct.   

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

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE     
beginning on Ab  2 oct. 

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

DOMINANT SEVENTH (resolving on tonic - See video below)     
in the key of C  2 oct.  hands separately 
• A hands-separately staccato scale is introduced (three grades earlier than in the current syllabus).

• The ‘Russian pattern’, combining similar and contrary motion is also introduced.

• A hands-separately dominant seventh is introduced, which will resolve on the tonic to encourage greater understanding of the harmonic function of the chord.
• More keys are featured than on the current Grade 4 syllabus; this better prepares for the appearance of all keys in Grade 5.



Grade 5 Proposals

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

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

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
A, D harmonic minors 2 oct.

RUSSIAN SCALES
D, B, Eb majors 2 oct. (see example for Grade 4)

CHROMATIC SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
beginning on A, F#, Eb:  2 oct.  hands together

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE
beginning on C:  2 oct.

ARPEGGIOS
C, G, D, A, E, B, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db majors / 
A, E, B, F#, C#, D, G, C, F minors  2 oct.  hands together
F#/Gb major / 
G#, Bb, Eb minors  2 oct.  hands separately

DOMINANT SEVENTHS (resolving on tonic)
in the keys of G, F 2 oct.  hands separately

DIMINISHED SEVENTH
beginning on G:  2 oct.  hands separately

• Notice that all scales are 2 octaves as opposed 3 required in the current syllabus.
• The complete cycle of fifths for scales is no longer required as is presently

• A hands-separately diminished seventh is introduced (a grade earlier than in the current syllabus).
• The first minor-key contrary-motion is set here as opposed to Grade 3 currently.

Grade 6 Proposals

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION) LEGATO
G, A, E, F#/Gb, F, Bb, Ab, Db majors / 
E, F#, C#, G#, G, Bb, Eb minors 4 oct.  hands together 
(Minors now need to be harmonic and melodic) 

STACCATO SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
C, D, B, Eb majors / 
A, B, D, C, F minors  
4 oct staccato, hands together 
(harmonic and melodic)

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
E, G harmonic minors 2 oct. legato

RUSSIAN SCALES
G, A, F, Db majors 2 oct. legato: see example for Grade 4

CHROMATIC SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
beginning on G, B, Bb, Db 4 oct. legato, hands together

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
beginning on D# (LH) and F# (RH) / 
E (LH) and G (RH)
2 oct. legato

WHOLE-TONE SCALE
beginning on E 2 oct. legato, hands separately

ARPEGGIOS
C, D, B, F#/Gb, Bb, Db majors / 
A, B, G#, C, Bb, Eb minors  
4 oct. hands together

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

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

• Notice that not every key is covered in the similar motion scales but as currently, they now extended to 4 octaves and minors are required in both harmonic and melodic forms.

• There are more staccato scales than currently but less contrary motion scales and easier ones

• A hands-separately whole-tone scale is introduced at this grade which is currently at Grade 8

• The staccato scale in thirds from the current syllabus is removed.

Grade 7 Proposals

LEGATO SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
G, D, E, B, F, Eb majors 
A, E, C#, D, G, C, Bb minors
(harmonic and melodic) 
4 oct. hands together and separately

STACCATO SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
A, F#/Gb, Bb, Ab, Db majors / 
F#, G#, Eb minors
(harmonic and melodic) 
4 oct.  hands together and separately

SCALES A 3RD APART
G, D, E, B, Db majors / 
A, C#, D, G, Bb harmonic minors   
4 oct.  legato

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
B, F harmonic minors 2 oct. legato

RUSSIAN SCALES
F#/Gb, Bb, Ab majors 2 oct. legato: see example for Grade 4


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

CHROMATIC SCALES A MINOR 3RD APART
beginning on 

C (LH) and Eb (RH)
C# (LH) and E (RH)
D (LH) and F (RH)
4 oct. legato

CHROMATIC CONTRARY-MOTION SCALES
beginning on F (LH) and Ab (RH) / 
G# (LH) and B (RH)
2 oct. legato

WHOLE-TONE SCALE
beginning on G 4 oct. legato, hands separately

ARPEGGIOS
E, B, F#/Gb, F, Bb, Eb majors / 
B, F#, D, F, Bb, Eb minors 
4 oct. legato, hands together in root position and in 1st inversion 

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

DIMINISHED SEVENTHS
beginning on F#, G, G#, A, A#, B 
4 oct. legato, hands together
• Chromatic scales a minor 3rd apart are included (a grade earlier than in the current syllabus).

• The staccato scale in sixths from the current syllabus is removed.

• The option to choose group 1 or group 2 scales no longer exists and many of the scales that are not in the legato set are tested in the staccato set, thus covering most keys

Grade 8 Proposals

SCALES (SIMILAR MOTION)
A, F#/Gb, F, Eb, Ab majors / 
E, B, F#, C, F, Eb minors
4 oct. legato and staccato; hands together and separately
(Minors - harmonic and melodic)

SCALES A 3RD APART
F#/Gb, F, Ab majors / 
B, F#, F harmonic minors   
4 oct. legato and staccato

SCALES A 6TH APART
G, D, E, B, Bb, Db majors / 
C#, D, G, Bb harmonic minors
4 oct. legato and staccato

CONTRARY-MOTION SCALE
G# harmonic minor 2 oct legato

RUSSIAN SCALES
Eb major / A harmonic minor 
 4 oct legato (see example below)

C major 4 octaves Russian Scale for Grade 8 Piano
 

TWOS AGAINST THREES SCALE
C major 4 oct legato; duplets in RH, triplets in LH 
and vice versa 

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

CHROMATIC SCALES A MAJOR 6TH APART
Beginning on 
Eb (LH) and C (RH)
E (LH) and C# (RH) 
F (LH) and D (RH)  
F# (LH) and D# (RH)
4 oct. legato and staccato

WHOLE-TONE SCALES
beginning on C, A 
4 oct. legato, hands together

ARPEGGIOS
G, A, B, F#, Bb, Ab majors / 
E, B, C#, G, Bb, Eb minors
4 oct. legato, hands together in root position, 1st and 2nd inversion.

DOMINANT SEVENTHS (resolving on tonic)
in the keys of B, F#/Gb, Eb, Ab, Db 
4 oct. legato, hands together

DIMINISHED SEVENTHS
beginning on C, C#, D, D#, E, F 
4 oct. legato, hands together
• The ‘Russian pattern’ is extended to 4 octaves. This is similar to the example I demonstrated earlier except now you play two octaves ascending in similar motion, then two octaves in contrary motion (out and in again), then another two octaves ascending together, followed by an exact reverse of what I’ve just described
• There are two completely new scales in this grade – a twos against threes scale where one hand plays triplets against the duplets of the other hand and chromatic scales a major 6th apart.

• The chromatic scale in minor thirds from the current syllabus is removed.


If you want to view the PDF of the proposed changes for yourself, Click HERE

16/03/2019

Sight Reading Trainer with Audio - Grade 1 : Suitable for Grade 1 ABRSM Sight Reading and Trinity College Music Exams

A New Fun and Interactive Way to Practice Sight Reading

Sight reading is one of the most dreaded parts of an ABRSM or Trinity Music exam. It is also arguably one of the most neglected parts of exam preparation.

That is why today, I am pleased to announce the publication of my new ebook Sight Reading Trainer with Audio - Grade 1.

This book will help you to make sight reading, not only part of your daily practice routine, but also in a fun way to improve this skill. They are arranged progressively so that they train you rather than give numerous specimen examples.

As well as many written sight reading examples, there will be tips on how to use the 30 second preparation time you get in the exam. Also, each example in this book comes with audio tracks which help you play in time - essential for getting a good mark.





US Users click HERE


Also available in PDF version with Audio Files HERE

Or get it FREE as a member of MusicOnline UK HERE

This is just the first in a series which I will be releasing over the coming months covering the higher grades. I will be posting on the main Sight Reading Page the new books as they are released HERE

Most students focus primarily on getting the notes the correct pitch at the expense of keeping the beat going. However, if you look at the ABRSM marking criteria for a sight reading test, the FIRST thing that is mentioned for a distinction is, “Fluent, rhythmically accurate” (followed by “accurate notes/pitch/key”).

As mentioned already, in an exam you are given up to half a minute to prepare. At this point most people will tentatively start to try and work out the pitches of the first few bars. This is a waste of your 30 seconds. Instead - Try and get the rhythm in your head, without touching your instrument.

As you go through this book you will notice dynamics and articulation marks are added in the later examples. Again the marking criteria for a distinction mentions “Attention to Musical detail.”

Once you have a sense of the music as a whole, you should get a sense of what key you are in. The Key Signatures that you should know from memory in this book, are those of one sharp (F sharp) and one flat (B flat). You don’t want to be wasting time in the exam counting up lines and spaces to work out the accidentals in the key signature.

Grade 1 ABRSM sight reading tests may be in any of the keys C, G or F major and A or D minor. Trinity College Grade 1 only uses C and G major and A minor.

Once you have established the key signature, then after placing the suggested finger on the first note of the test, play a 5 note micro-scale in that hand position.

The last thing mentioned in the marking criteria for a distinction is “Confident presentation”. A sight reading test is an assessment on how well you can convey the music as a whole performance, NOT if you can recognise the pitches A, B, C etc - that is a theory exam!!

Finally - a word on mistakes. If you miss a note, DON’T go back and correct it, you’ll only upset the flow and rhythm of the music and this effectively then counts as a 2nd mistake. You can’t erase the first mistake, and the examiner is not interested if you can improve on your wrong note, he wants to hear a performance of the music as a whole which conveys as best you can, the character of the piece.

For more tips on how to get the best out of all the aspects of the exam, Sight Reading, Scales, Aural and of course the Pieces, check out my other E-book, “How to get a Distinction at ABRSM”